WARSAW, Poland (AFP) — Czech Petr Vakoc (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the second stage of the Tour of Poland on Monday to move into the overall lead.
Enduring hot weather, the 22-year-old, winner of the Tour of Slovakia last year, ditched his two Polish breakaway companions in the last 20km and soloed to victory on the 226-kilometer stage from Torun to Warsaw. By the finish, he’d been away for about 200 kilometers
After his first career WorldTour victory, Vakoc said, “Being UCI WorldTour this is a big race, so to win solo like this is unbelievable. The toughest moment was when we started the finishing circuit. The gap was falling fast and my legs started to tire a bit. Then with five kilometers to go it started to get really hard, but I just gave it everything for those last five kilometers. I didn’t think about anything other than use every ounce of energy that I had. It’s a beautiful moment for me. I didn’t expect it, and it seems neither did the peloton. When the three of us went away and had a gap at first I wasn’t so sure about my decision, but then I thought maybe if the gap kept going up and I save enough energy in the final kilometers, I can try to go alone. I was thinking about it, to try and have some energy left to win a stage.
“It’s a great feeling to have this effort pay off and earn my first UCI WorldTour victory of my career here in Poland. It seems Poland brings me luck as both of my university championship victories also happened here a few weeks ago. I like racing in Poland. Now, I’d like to fight to keep the jersey as long as I can. It will be hard, but I will fight, and I know my teammates will fight with me. We will see in the coming days. I’m a young student on and off and the bike and this will be an opportunity to learn in the best way possible. I’d like to thank OPQS for giving me a chance today, and at Tour of Poland, in this jersey that I am so proud to wear.”
Australian Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) took second in a sprint finish, 21 seconds back with Belgian Boris Vallée (Lotto-Belisol) third.
Vakoc’s win left him 27 seconds ahead of Belarussian Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ.fr), who started the day in yellow having won Sunday’s opening stage, in the overall standings with Russian Roman Maikin (RusVelo) third at 31 seconds.