Tour de Pologne

Swift is poles apart

Team Sky rider sprints to victory on stage two in Poland

Last updated: 15th July 2012

Ben Swift claimed victory on stage two of the Tour de Pologne in a sprint finish in Opole.

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The Brit outpaced Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale), leading from the front in the bunch kick after the 239.4 kilometres from Walbrzych to Opole.

After Ian Stannard and Mathew Hayman had put him in the right position arriving at the final corner, Swift held off the challenge of Viviani for his first win on the road this year.

Viviani finished a wheel-length back, with Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) completing the podium in third.

The undulating terrain in the early part of the longest stage of this year's race provided the setting for a breakaway and the trio of Diego Caccia (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Damian Walcazk (Reprezentacja Polski) and Adrian Kurek (Utensilnord-Named) took their chance.

They still had a lead of more than three minutes when Caccia made a solo bid for glory from 20 kilometres out.

But the Italian was caught by the peloton on the last of three circuits, each of six kilometres, around the southern city of Opole.

That cleared the way for a sprint finish with Stannard, resplendent in his new national champion's jersey, moving up on the left before Hayman took over and Swift lived up to his name.

His victory moves him up to third in the points classification, one point behind leader Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Sharp).

Superb victory

After the stage a happy Swift said: "It was brilliant. We made the call to save our legs for the lead out - if we needed to we were going to put someone on the front but the guys did a perfect job looking after me and got me right into position.

"It was unbelievable at the end; Flecha did a hell of a lot of work to move us all into position around that circuit and then [Ian] Stannard just went for it - I think the cobbles excited him! And then Mat Hayman did a massive turn to get me almost right to the line."

The Yorkshireman was happy to bounce back from some bad luck on stage one, adding: "I was quite disappointed yesterday because I'd done all the work to get over the last climb and then right at the very top I punctured; it's always hard to look at those results when you know you should have been in with a good chance of winning.

"I've had quite a bit of bad luck this year so it's pretty special to get that first win of the season.

"We'll keep pushing on now for further wins; I'm really happy with how my legs are feeling on the climbs so am looking forward to a few of the harder days as well."

When asked how the Tour de France was inspiring him and the team, Swift, who competed in the race last year, admitted: "The boys are riding absolutely unbelievably out at the Tour de France and it's inspiring all of us 100% - it was such a long stage today and there was quite a lot of 'downtime' during it so we were getting feedback [over the radio] on how they were doing and it's great for the whole team."

Sprint finish

Moreno Moser (Liquigas-Cannondale), winner of stage one, finished safely in the bunch to retain the overall race lead. He has a four-second advantage over Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), with Lars Boom (Rabobank) a further two seconds behind in third.

A trio of Team Sky riders are well placed to challenge in the coming days of the week-long race, headed by Sergio Henao in seventh.

Lars-Petter Nordhaug (23rd) and Rigoberto Urán (26th) are also among the group of 25 riders 10 seconds behind Moser.

The race continues on Thursday with a 201.7 kilometres route from Kedzierzyn-Kozle to Cieszyn, which includes the category one Kubalonka climb twice.

After the stage Sports Director Nicolas Portal was understandably thrilled with how the stage had panned out.

The Frenchman said: "I am very happy with how the day turned out and we managed to produce a really good lead-out.

"It was a long, long stage. The breakaway which finally went was very good for us and then Liquigas took control which you would expect. The plan was to save Flecha, Ian and Mat for the lead-out with Swifty.

"Every year in Poland we have these finishing circuits and sometimes they are very technical. There are also a lot of teams here and some good sprinters. You need to fight to be at the front and we knew that with the team we had here we would be able to do that.

"We planned to save our legs and then put the lead-out together at the end. It worked out perfect. Alex also did a lot of good work and our three GC guys fought back well after they got caught behind a crash with two laps to go."

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