Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky) won stage five of the Tour of Poland as he sprinted clear of Luka Mezgec (Orica-Scott) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) while crashes and wet conditions disrupted the finale.
Despite a lumpy parcours, a bunch sprint looked likely on the approach to the finish in Rzeszow, but wet conditions caused a crash with little more than a kilometre to go, meaning a group of just ten or so riders remained to contest the stage win.
Van Poppel was locked in the wheel of team-mate Lukasz Wisniowski who produced a textbook lead-out effort to put the Dutchman in a perfect position to take his first stage win of the race.
Meanwhile Peter Sagan’s third place meant that he was able to pick up bonus seconds to extend his lead at the top of the general classification ahead of two tough stages in the mountains on Thursday and Friday.
The short 130km stage from Olimp Nagawczyna to Rzeszow saw a strong five-rider break go clear from the gun: Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Soudal), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors), and Moreno Moser (Astana).
With such a strong group out in front on such a short stage, the peloton didn’t allow the gap to grow to any more than three minutes, beginning to bring the gap down for the lumpy second half of the day.
With 30km remaining the heavens opened making for slippery conditions that saw Schachmann hit the ground as he followed Moser and Tolhoek in taking the wrong line through a corner.
The downpour was brief, with Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Drapac) the only other rider to suffer a fall, and the peloton’s chase was unaffected, bringing the gap down below 30 seconds with 15km remaining at the start of the final climb.
This last ascent gave a chance for Van Garderen to spring clear, dispatching his breakaway companions on the 15 per cent gradients.
The American crossed the top of the climb alone, but his gap was down to little more than 15 seconds over a whittled down peloton including race leader Peter Sagan who had successfully made it over the climb.
With Danny Van Poppel also in the group Team Sky led the chase, but Van Garderen was putting up a fight, holding his advantage to five kilometres to go.
However it was not to be, with the catch being made with three kilometres remaining, meaning that the stage would be decided in a sprint.
Wout Poels led the race under the two kilometres to go banner, followed by three other Team Sky riders, the last of whom was Danny Van Poppel with Sagan locked in his wheel.
It looked like it would be a bunch sprint, but with a kilometre remaining a crash near the front of the peloton caused a split in the group, leaving around ten riders at the front to contest the stage win
Lukasz Wisniowski was forced to do a long lead-out for Van Poppel, including chasing down an opportunistic late attack from Youcef Reguigui (Dimension Data), but was able to put the Dutchman in the perfect position to sprint from the front and take the win ahead of Mezgec and Sagan.
Tour of Poland 2017, stage five: Olimp Nagawczyna to Rzeszow, 130km
1. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky, in 2-59-44
2. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-Scott
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNl-Jumbo
6. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing
8. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
9. Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal
10. Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky, all at same time
General classification after stage five
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 18-41-27
2. Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing, at 14 secs
3. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 20 secs
4. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 24 secs
5. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) FDJ, at 31 secs
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 32 secs
7. Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, at 33 secs
8. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 33 secs
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 39 secs
10. Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 39 secs