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Re: Tour de Pologne
« on: July 29, 2017, 09:33 »
I feel forced to post on this thread for a reminder of Tim Wellens’ incredible achievement in 2016! :) AG stamped me a fanboy, so I need to feed my reputation. And this race is where it all started for me. ;)

Of course by the year end the Tour of Poland was not considered Tim’s greatest achievement of the year because of the Tour of Poland’s relatively depleted field – though Michal Kwiatkowski (2016 being one of the worst years of his career thus far), Enrico Battaglin, Philippe Gilbert, Zdenek Stybar, Primoz Roglic or Bob Jungels were at the start. Both journalists and Tim himself rated his stage win at Paris-Nice higher as he outsprinted Contador and Porte over the Col d’Eze but the way he won that Tour of Poland and the 6th stage Wieliczka – Zakopane (225km) had something unique or at least unseen for long.

3’48” was his lead on the 2nd (Davide Formolo), 4’37” on the 3rd his own teammate Tiesj Benoot after an at least 61km long breakaway, including the last 45 of them solo (Alberto Bettiol was the last to keep up with him, future 2nd to Oliver Naesen at Plouay). Such gaps in a single day are gaps of another era, back to Bernard Hinault’s era and even back then it was hard to create such big gaps in one day on a race of such standard. Of course the extreme stormy and cold weather helped discriminating between the good and the very best riders but still it was an incredible achievement.

That weather also added to the epic aspect of the race, epic in the primary sense of the word! (a word that has been sullied in recent years but I really think it’s fitting here). 85 riders called it quit! I watched a replay of it later on Youtube, a video clip that has since been suppressed. At some point the video was recorded in my “resume watching” videos. I made a print screen of it because the picture I found so “epic” (sorry for repeating the word).

I don’t know if you can see the “retro” aspect in that picture. The waterlogged road, Tim’s black short, the beautiful Lotto-Soudal with hardly any sponsors on it and most of all this impression of loneliness! The champion, all alone, heading towards his destiny! The “Lonesome Cowboy”! No spectator on the roadside, no motorbikes around him and of course no opponents, all far behind!

This really was when Tim Wellens’ reputation as a “rainman” was firmly established, given that a fortnight later he would suffer martyrdom in the heat of the Rio Olympics and never recovered his form of the Tour of Poland before the 2017 season start. It’s now known that he cannot race at his best under heat. A bit like Charly Gaul in the good old days made his greatest solo raid under rain or snow storms while not getting forward under extreme heat.

Credit to Search for this last picture and tweet ;)


By the way I'm very interested in this Polish national team. It seems like this trend is getting back. Probably the team mainly consists of young prospects or are there experienced pros in it? I didn't realise that at the Elfstedenronde there was a Dutch national team beside the Belgian one but no real stars were in, with all respect to these riders.

Also the drop of the ITT is really demoting the race in my opinion. I know that it's hard to organise such an event but the ITT is the ultimate test in pro cycling. A race in which you can hardly cheat. You cannot draft wheels. It's for the very best riders. When you have none, it's hard to reward a complete rider. Of course races such as the Tour of Wallonia or the Four Days of Dunkirk do not have any ITT either, which I deplore but they are not suppose to be high standard stage races. Just some build-ups. No ITT for a so-called World Tour stage race is a real shame. Just like very short ITT's for supposed GT are demoting the said GT's.  ;)
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