Tour de Pologne

Narrow second for Swifty

Kwiatkowski assumes race lead

Last updated: 15th July 2012

Ben Swift came tantalisingly close to a second stage victory at the Tour de Pologne on stage four.

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The stage two winner was brought to the head of the pack inside the final kilometre as British national champion Ian Stannard put the power down, sweeping into the last corner first before Mathew Hayman completed the lead-out.

Aidis Kruopis (Orica-GreenEDGE) pulled out from the wheel of Swift to just edge out the Brit in a close finish into Katowice.

The Lithuanian was able to just nip past along the barrier to win by a bike-length on the line while Theo Bos (Rabobank) rounded out the podium.

Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) inherited a slender two-second race lead on the day after overhauling Moreno Moser (Liquigas-Cannondale), the yellow jersey holder since the start of the race, by winning the first intermediate sprint.

Swift still made the end-of-stage podium courtesy of a three-point lead in the red and white points jersey standings while Sergio Henao, Lars-Petter Nordhaug and Rigoberto Urán all remained within 12 seconds of the race lead.

Close sprint

"I'm disappointed to not win after the team did such a fantastic job," said Swift after the stage.

"[Kruopis] is a very good rider. He did a brave move coming up very close to the barrier. I saw him on the inside and I wanted to close the gap but I knew it wasn't the right thing to do.

"We still have the last sprint stage in Krakow so we'll look forward to that one."

Earlier in the stage Kwiatkowski had signalled his intent in his home race, taking three valuable bonus seconds at the sprint prime.

After that the race settled into a more conventional rhythm, a four-man break heading clear despite the seemingly inevitable bunch sprint.

Team Sky hit the front in the closing stages, Juan Antonio Flecha and Alex Dowsett lining out the bunch before dropping back, driving again through Stannard as a couple of late escape attempts were shut down and Kruopis took the spoils.

After the stage Sports Director Nicolas Portal could not fault the work of the team which again so nearly resulted in a WorldTour stage win.

He said: "It was very close with Swifty in the sprint. The team worked well again. It was obvious it was going to end in a bunch sprint so we made the plan to give Swifty the best lead-out possible.

"Alex did a brilliant job to control pace on the front and Flecha helped the team with pulls in the last two laps. We kept our GC guys in a good position and we came very close to the win at the end.

"But the team are working well and they are reading the race well. They are intelligent guys and we also have some really strong guys in this team. Mat Hayman is very quick as the last man in the lead-out and Swifty can be confident on his wheel."

Tomorrow the focus moves back towards the general classification and Portal insists that vigilance will be key for the contenders.

"We need to keep an eye on the breakaway," he added. "There is a hard climb after the start and then after that our three GC guys need to stay aware. The finish is on a small climb and it is important not to lose a few seconds if gaps open up. We will see what happens in the stage."

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