Mathew Hayman and Ben Swift sprinted to second and third places respectively on the final stage of the Tour de Pologne after John Degenkolb had snatched a hard-fought win.
Hayman had been tasked with leading Swift out as the 131.4km stage into Krakow reached its conclusion in stormy conditions, but found he had enough left in the tank to mount a last-gasp push of his own and pipped his team-mate by the narrowest of margins after Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) had triumphed by half a bike length at the line.
Swift’s performance was enough to wrap up the points classification in the process, while Sergio Henao finished in third place overall, 16 seconds back on race winner Moreno Moser (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Flecha makes the break
Team Sky had been active right from the start with Juan Antonio Flecha being one of 12 riders who formed the day’s main breakaway.
The group’s advantage was never allowed to stretch much over two minutes though, as teams like Garmin-Sharp, FDJ-Big Mat and Argos-Shimano worked together to keep the move in check.
That lead had dropped under a minute as they passed the 7km to go banner, and it was Flecha who split the group in two when he made a stinging attack as the race returned to the city centre.
Flecha was the only one to initially respond as well when Jaroslaw Marycz (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) made his bid for glory soon after, but the group did come back together and an ill-timed game of cat and mouse meant they were all hauled back with 3km to go.
It was then that the heavens opened and the streets were quickly transformed into something more resembling a river. That didn’t stop the marauding bunch though, and Argos-Shimano executed a well-timed lead out down the long closing straight which saw Degenkolb seal his sixth win of the season and deny Hayman and Swift a perfect finish for Team Sky.
All the main GC contenders were present in that sizeable front bunch which ensured Moser secured the yellow jersey with a five-second cushion over Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step).
We caught up with Swift shortly after he stepped off the podium, and he told us: "We tried our best at the finish but just got a little boxed in. Mat was trying everything he could to get us a good line and once we'd managed that we had a lot of speed, but we couldn't quite overhaul Degenkolb at the end. He deserved his win and congratulations to him.
"It was close for second place but neither Mat nor I wanted to take any chances on anyone else sneaking through so we both lunged for the line. Mat's got longer arms than me and that's what made the difference at the end (laughs).
"It was great for me to wrap up the points classification and a nice way to finish the week off. Sergio finishing third was fantastic for him and we also won the team classification - which was a nice bonus as well.
"The team's been great all week. We've had a good group of guys here and been up there every day and for me personally, I'm happy with the form I've shown and to get two stage wins is very pleasing."