Darwin Atapuma (Colombia) won the sixth stage of the Tour of Poland on Friday.
He finished just ahead of Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale), on whose wheel he stayed over the final 2 kilometers of the 192km course. Atapuma made his move in the final few hundred meters, launching himself ahead of Riblon and across the finish line.
Leopold Konig (Netapp-Endura) was third, 22 seconds behind Atapuma.
Riblon, who broke away from the peloton with 12km left, is the new race leader entering Saturday’s finale. He took the yellow jersey from Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who now trails Riblon by 19 seconds. Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) is third in the GC, 20 seconds behind Riblon.
Friday’s route consisted of five laps of 38.4km. Each circuit contained two Cat. 1 climbs that spread out the field. The finish was a 5km, unrated climb into the town of Bukowina Tatrzańska.
Much of the race was chaotic because of the climbs, with different groups with various riders strung out along the road. The final 13km, however, featured the best bike racing of the day.
A six-man lead group had a 38-second advantage over a smaller chase group as the riders hit the final Cat. 1 climb. The break disintegrated on the ascent and two riders — Atapuma and Sergei Chernetski (Katusha) — attacked. With 12km left, they started working together out front in an effort to win the stage.
Back in the peloton, Riblon’s attack proved to be decisive. He reached the chase group on the ascent and immediately took position at the front, trying to pull the riders toward the leaders.
With the riders hitting speeds of more than 70 kph on the subsequent descent, the Riblon group made up time on the leaders. Halfway up the finishing climb, the group was just seconds away from the front pair.
At that point, Riblon — who clearly had his sights set on the yellow jersey — moved ahead and joined Atapuma and Chernetski. Atapuma then attacked, dropping Chernetski. Riblon joined him and the duo began riding the final 2km together.
Atapuma refused to take the lead, forcing Riblon to do all of the work as they approached the finish line. Riblon appeared to ask for help numerous times but each plea was unsuccessful.
With a few hundred meters to go, Atapuma’s expected move came. He launched forward and then out-sprinted the Frenchman to the line by two seconds to claim the victory.
A number of breakaways formed in the first half of the race. Four riders jumped ahead of the peloton early in the course. Later, with around 60km left, the lead group increased to 26 riders.
Fifteen kilometers later, the tough ascents took a toll on the group, which was reduced to nine. At the start of the final lap, an eight-man pack found itself ahead of the main field.
Five men attacked the peloton early in the bell lap, bumping the lead pack to 13.
The attacks continued as the leaders made their way over the two climbs — and the subsequent descents — during the final loop. From that point, the race was on.
The race concludes with Saturday’s 37km time trial from Wieliczka to Kraków.