The third stage of the Szlakiem Walk Majora Hubala was 172.2km taking in two and a half laps of the countryside followed by five local laps around a frantic 4.4km course in the town of Opoczno.
The team had two goals for the stage as they rolled out of the start town in Poswietne, the first being to control any breakaway that left the peloton in order to protect Karol Domagalski’s 3rd place on the General classification and secondly, to deliver Australian sprinter Steele Von Hoff to the finishing line.
As the early flourishes took place the team were active on the radio’s, keeping a close eye on the riders that tried to establish a break before the peloton decided to bring when they weren’t happy with the combination.
When a group of six riders finally broke clear and the combination didn’t prove to be a threat to the GC, the peloton were able to sit up and relax while CCC Sprandi Polokwice took the lead at the head of the bunch, keeping the break within 3 minutes and protecting their yellow jersey.
The kilometres ticked by and there was no real change at the front until 60km to go when one rider decided to attack his fellow riders in the breakaway and put some pressure on to the peloton. Pressing on, the lone leader opened up a 1 minute advantage over his rivals and it was Team Wibatech 7R Fuji and Team Huron who took to the front of the bunch and increased the pace, bringing the bunch all back together as they hit the finishing circuits with just 20km to go.
The team began to position themselves together with Steele Von Hoff in the wheels taking maximum protection from his team mates. With six kilometres to go the ONE Pro Cycling train hit the front of the peloton with all 8 riders in a line. In an impressive turn of speed and strength, they immediately strung out the peloton in one long line as Tom Baylis and Tom Stewart dealt the first blows.
Keeping the tempo high, Pete Williams hit the front quickly followed by James Oram as the team surged into the final 3km. Under the 1km to go banner it was Polish powerhouse Kamil Gradek driving the pace into the final right hander before handing over to Kiwi Hayden McCormick.
Karol Domagalski was the penultimate rider in the string and began to deliver his sprint, at this point the rush from behind came and Steele Von Hoff quickly jumped trains to keep himself in position for the finish. Von Hoff unleashed his trademark sprint just as another sprinter cut across him, causing him to stall and restart before settling for 4th across the line.
A disappointing result following a fantastic lead out from the team. However, tomorrow’s stage (stage 4) will provide another sprint opportunity where the team will once again look to improve on their performance.