A total of 85 riders failed to finish stage five of the 2016 Tour of Poland on Saturday, as torrential rain and a climb-filled route took its toll.
When added to previous abandons, only 100 riders now remain in the race, exactly half of the original tally of 200 riders that started the seven-day WorldTour race on Tuesday.
Aside from the challenge of the wet, cold conditions, the day included seven categorised climbs along its 225 kilometres.
Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) won the stage in six hours from a solo move, and inherited the overall race lead. The Belgian now leads Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac) by four minutes and five seconds overall. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) is third at 4-50.
Simon Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) is the top-placed British rider in the race, in 20th place and 13 minutes behind Wellens. Yates made his return to racing in Poland after serving a four-month suspension for an anti-doping violation.
British team One Pro Cycling is making its WorldTour debut in the event, but is now down to just two riders – Yanto Barker and Dion Smith. They aren’t alone in having a decimated squad. Etixx-QuickStep, Astana, Dimension Data and IAM Cycling are all also down to just two riders apiece.
The bad weather is forecast to continue on Sunday, when the race hits its penultimate stage. The remaining 100 riders will face more climbing – there are no less than 16 categorised climbs as the stage loops five times on a circuit from the Bukovina Resort.
Watch: Alex Dowsett – My Toughest Day
The race concludes on Monday with a final, decisive individual time trial over 25km in Kraków. British national TT champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) is still in the race and is one of the front runners for the final stage win.
If 25-year-old Wellens can maintain his overall race lead through both of the final two stages, it will add to his stage wins at the Giro d’Italia and Paris-Nice this season.