Ag2R’s Christophe Riblon, in everybody’s mind since his fantastic win on the Double d’Huez Stage 18 of the Tour de France, showed that he hasn’t lost his form by winning Stage Two of the Tour de Pologne with another long attack to a summit finish.
Riblon attacked one-fifth of the way up the Cat One Passo Pordoi and soloed eight kilometers to the finish, where he crossed the line a minute ahead of second placed Thomas Rohregger of RadioShack. Riblon nearly won the race leader’s yellow jersey as well, finishing just six seconds out of first in General Classification.
Stage Two, 206.5 km from Marilleva Val di Sole to Passo Pordoi Val di Fassa, featured three Cat One climbs in the final 70 km, including her summit finish on Passo Pordoi. With a rest day following, this was a great opportunity for potential GC contenders to gain some time.
The stage started with 16 riders escaping and splitting in half in the first fifty kilometers. The lead group included Vincenzo Nibali (Canondale,) Serge Pauwels and Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quickstep,) Danny Pate (Sky,) Bruno Pires (Saxo-Tinkoff,) Maciej Paterski (Cannondale,) and Thomas Rohregger.
The second group contained Riblon, Georg Priedler (Argos-Shimano,) Thomas Marczyński (Vacansoleil,) Angel Madrazo and Bertjan Lindeman (Movistar,) Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Enduro,) Sandy Casar and Arnaud Courteille (FDJ,) and Nikolay Mihaylov of local team CCC Polsat Polkowice.
The second group caught the first and the combined escape opened a gap of over five minutes by the halfway point of the stage, but at that point all of the climbs were yet to come.
Three riders, Huzarski, Madrazo, and Pauwels attacked at the third intermediate sprint point, 120 km into the stage, and opened half-a-minute’s gap, but were hunted down buy the rest, led by Vincenzo Nibali.
Nibali and Marczyński then attacked, to be joined soon by Rohregger. Stybar, Riblon, and Myhalov also bridged across, so Nibali attacked again, followed by Rohregger.
Rohregger pulled away from the Astana rider on the first climb, capturing the Mountain points, but Nibali rode him down. Riblon and Stybar caught this pair and four riders headed up the second climb with about four minutes’ lead on the peloton.
Thomas Marczyński, Georg Priedler, and Maciej Paterski caught the leading four on the lower slopes of the second climb, expanding the lead group.
Vincenzo Nibali hadn’t yet regained the form which allowed him to win the Giro; the Italian rider began dropping back on the second climb of the day. Preidler and Paterski were next to drop off, leaving Riblon, Rohregger, Stybar, and Marczyński in the lead, but the pair fought back to the first four before the summit of the climb.
The leaders had three-and-a-half minutes on the peloton as they crested the second climb, with 32 km left to race. Colombia led the peloton, planning to attack on the final climb.
When the leaders hit the final climb, Maciej Paterski and Thomas Marczyński attacked. Marczyński started the attack, but Paterski overtook and dropped him. Riblon and Rhregger set off in pursuit, catching Paterski after 1500 meters. Riblon rested for a couple hundred meters to catch his breath, then launched another attack, leaving Rohregger behind.
Saxo-Tinkoff’s Rafal Majka took over the race leader’s yellow jersey with an advantage of four seconds over Sky’s Sergio Hano. Riblon lies third, a further two seconds back.