Gradek’s breakaway went clear early on stage three and quickly opened up an advantage on the first of three different circuits that would each be raced multiple times and soon they had opened up an advantage of more than four minutes.
At this point, the peloton regained some control over the race and pulled the gap back to around three minutes where it hovered for most of the stage before eventually, the chase started to pick up inside the final 50 kilometers but by this point, all of the categorized climbs were complete and after racing aggressively on all of them, Gradek had already put himself into the King of the Mountains jersey.
The Polish rider didn’t stop pushing hard at the front of the race but eventually, as the breakaway started to split, he slipped back and rejoined the peloton before the final rider was ultimately caught before the start of the three final 7.2-kilometer laps around Bielsko-Biała
In the end, despite a brave solo attacker trying to distance themselves from the reduced peloton, the stage came down to an uphill drag race to the line and after the intensity of the day’s climbs and the speed in the closing kilometers, it was a reduced group including most of the General Classification favorites that were racing for the day’s honors.
CCC Team trio of Attila Valter, who was the team’s best-placed rider in 14th place, Simon Geschke and Ilnur Zakarin all finished in this group and they all sit ten seconds behind the new leader and stage winner, Richard Carapaz (Team INEOS), going into another crucial day of climbing on stage four tomorrow.
Kamil Małecki also crossed the line in the reduced main bunch and as a result, he remains third overall, four seconds back on the Ecuadorian.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“The plan was for me to be in the breakaway and to race for points to take the King of the Mountain jersey. I was able to get into the right move with four other riders and I tried to do my best all day. It wasn’t easy because there was a rider from the Polish national team in the group and he was quite an explosive rider on the climbs so I was fighting with him all day but eventually he was dropped on the last climb and I was able to take second on that and secure the KOM jersey at the end of the day. I feel really hapy to have done that because I think it’s improved my confidence a little bit at the start of this new season. Tomorrow is another ‘mountain’ stage and I would like to try to defend this jersey if possible right to the end.”
“Today was probably the queen stage of this year’s Tour de Pologne and, like many of the other riders, I was curious about what it would bring. I love this type of racing much more, with all the climbs rather than the flatter stages and I can say that I still have a lot to learn about positioning in the bunch but I think I was racing well during the stage and even better in the last circuit. I had the legs for the sprint but I was a little bit boxed in but still I’m happy with my performance at the first WorldTour race of my career. I am now looking forward to tomorrow for even more climbing. Finally, I want to say congratulations to my mate Kamil Gradek for a huge day in the breakaway and thanks to all of the team for support during the race.”
Tour de Pologne
Stage 3: Wadowice > Bielsko-Biała (203.1k)
Top 3: 1. Richard Carapaz (Team INEOS), 2. Diego Ulissi (UAE-Team Emirates) 3. Rudy Molard (Groupama – FDJ)
CCC Team Top 3: 14. Attila Valter, 19. Simon Geschke 29. Ilnur Zakarin