Luka Mezgec capitalised on perfect positioning in the sprint finish to take a second victory on stage five of the Tour of Poland.
The Slovenian planted himself on the wheel of the Team Ineos lead-out in the final uphill drag to the line, waiting for their train to slow before launching his move in the closing 100 metres and pulling well clear of his rivals.
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Lumpy terrain defined the day’s racing after an emotional hiatus to commemorate Bjorg Lambrecht on stage four.
The day’s three-rider breakaway were denied victory by a reduced peloton and a handful of last-ditch attacks failed, setting up a bunch kick for the line.
Ineos were the dominant team in the final 5km, massing numbers at the front to set up British champion Ben Swift, but their lead-out stalled on the last climb, with Mezgec capitalising to take the win.
Movistar’s Eduard Prades surged from behind to take second at the line, with Swift fading and forced to settle for third.
Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) held on over a challenging day for the sprinters to maintain his overall race lead.
How it happened
Stage five marked a return to racing after an emotional few days at the Tour of Poland, with stage four being held as a memorial to Lotto-Soudal’s Bjorg Lambrecht.
The continuation of the race was a 153.8km run from Wieliczka to Bielsko-Biała in the south of the country near the Czech border.
After an opening 80km of undulating and testing terrain, riders then faced the first of three categorised climbs – a 0.9km, 6.8 per cent average category two ascent.
The next climb came 16km later, the second category Rychwald climb (1.6km at 7.3 per cent) before the decisive point of the day.
At the 114km mark, the peloton took on a first category climb, 4.2km-long at 6.3 per cent average, which carried the race onto the final finishing circuit and four ascents of the climb to the line.
After a flurry of initial attacks that were closed down, the three-rider breakaway formed in the opening 20km, consisting of Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk) Kamil Gradek (CCC Team) and Szymon Rekita from the Polish national team.
Lotto-Soudal’s Jelle Wallays also bridged across to the break early on, having decided to continue the race after the death of his team-mate.
The peloton were content to let the quad escape as the break build up a 3-30 advantage at the maximum.
Bora-Hansgrohe continued to control the race, as they had done over the opening three race days for their sprinter Pascal Ackermann, pulling the breakaway to within a two-minute advantage.
The break were caught on the cat one climb, which sparked off more attacks from the peloton.
Another late breakaway then formed as the race hit the finishing circuit, with Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Merida) triggering the move and being joined by Simon Geschke (CCC Team) and Mitchelton-Scott’s Tsgabu Grmay.
The trio were caught inside 5km as Team Ineos then hit the front with a huge surge of pace on the run to the final climb.
Miguel Ángel López (Astana) then fired a speculative solo attack with just over a kilometre to ride, with Italian champion Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) joining him.
The general classification hopefuls were swept up quickly, setting up the sprint for a reduced bunch.
Ineos continued to the lead the peloton, with Owain Doull handing over to Tao Geoghegan Hart at the head of the train, with Swift poised and Mezgec on his wheel.
The Ineos lead-out train stalled on the final climb, leaving Swift without enough momentum to kick clear, while Mezgec fired straight past and pulled away to take the win.
Swift tried to hold on for second but faded and was overtaken by Prades, who took second with Swift finishing third.
Tour of Poland 2019, stage five: Wieliczka to Bielsko-Biała (153.8km)
1. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott, in 3-49-55
2. Eduard Prades (Esp) Movistar
3. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Ineos
4. Petr Vakoč (Cze) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
5. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
6. Rafał (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Katusha-Alpecin
8. Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
9. Chris Hamilton (Aus) Sunweb
10. Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo, all at same time
General classification after stage five
1. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 18-06-30
2. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott, at 4 seconds
3. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Ineos, at 16s
4. Eduard Prades (Esp) Movistar, at 18s
5. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain-Merida, at 20s
6. Quentin Jauregui (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 22s
7. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 23s
8. Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 24s
9. Clément Venturini (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
10 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time