British road race champion Ian Stannard (Sky) gave it everything during stage six of the Tour of Poland on Sunday, spending all day in an escape group, getting caught and then attacking again in the race’s dying kilometres.
Stannard’s Sky team-mate Sergio Henao put in a late bid for the stage win and yellow jersey after Stannard was caught for the second time, but the Colombian himself was caught and passed just metres from the line by Moreno Moser (Liquigas-Cannondale). With his second stage win of the race, Moser put himself in the overall lead thanks to the winner’s time bonuses.
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Henao finished second, with former race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in third.
Moser leads Kwiatkowski overall by just five seconds.
Stannard’s feat of endurance was made all the more remarkable by the day’s stage, which had a saw-tooth profile of relentlessly steep downhills and technical descents. He also featured in an escape group at the end of the previous day’s stage, which was eventually won by British team-mate Ben Swift.
Stannard’s performance shows that he is in top condition to be a key player for Great Britain in the Olympic Games road race, which features nine laps of the punishing Box Hill circuit in Surrey. All four of the Essex man’s Olympic road race team-mates – Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, David Mlilar and Mark Cavendish – have just won stages in the Tour de France.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders Tom Boonen and Niki Terpstra both withdrew after crashing earlier in the race. Belgian Boonen fractured a rib, which may hinder his London 2012 preparations, and Dutchman Terpstra has injured his shoulder and knee casting some doubt on his Olympic participation. Norwegian Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing) is also out after suffering lingering illness from earlier in the season.
The WorldTour-level Tour of Poland concludes on Monday with a 131.4km circuit-based stage around Krakow.
Tour of Poland 2012, stage six: Bukovina Terma Hotel Spa to Bukowina Tatrzanska, 191.8 km
1. Moreno Moser (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale in 5-16-32
2. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at same time
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 3 secs
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-ISD at 4 secs
6. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha at same time
7. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale at 7 secs
8. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan
9. Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan at same time
Overall classification after stage six
1. Moreno Moser (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale in 27-25-17
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 5 secs
3. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 16 secs
4. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha at 26 secs
5. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan at 28 secs
6. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale at 29 secs
7. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan at 29 secs
8. Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 29 secs
9. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Argos-Shimano at 29 secs
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at 29 secs