In His Own Words: Mitch Docker on Tour of Poland – Stage 2
Ben Swift (Sky Procycling) won stage two of the Tour of Poland. Daniel Teklehaimanot who climbed into the mountains classification lead yesterday – and stepped onto his first WorldTour podium to received the leader’s jersey as a result – maintained his lead on the relatively flat day of racing. Mitch Docker checked in following the Polish Tour’s longest stage to tell us about ORICA-GreenEDGE's day.
The stage began with a ten kilometer neutral section. It was a relaxed rolling start ahead of our 240 kilometer day. I think we were all thinking about the long day ahead, so the break went quickly and everyone stayed pretty relaxed. We had the idea to stay fresh for the finish, so we weren’t interested in being in the break. The relaxed pace suited us well.
Everyone rolled along and chatted during the first 150 kilometers. I haven’t had a chance to chill in the bunch like that because the few races I’ve done this season have all been full on or in bad weather or something like that. So, we took it easy, and we stayed calm and fresh – well, I certainly did, anyway.
With 50 kilometers left to race, the team started to come together a bit more as we began to prepare for the final sprint. Twenty kilometers from the finish, we came onto the final circuit for three laps to end the stage. It had been a flat day, and really there was nothing eventful to report until we hit the circuits.
Things became eventful quickly on the circuits. We worked hard to stick together. Fumy Beppu and Daniel Teklehaimanot ran in the front before the laps. They assumed responsibility for pulling us all up to the front of the bunch. My objective was to ride on the front before our sprint train took over. When I pulled off, I was hoping Leigh Howard and Tomas Vaitkus would be there to lead out Aidis Kruopis.
As it went, Tomas got lost in the shuffle. Because I was on the front, I wasn’t fully aware of everything that had happened behind, and it wasn’t until after the race that I learned there had been a crash. I swung off the front and saw that there were only about 50 riders left in the bunch. I had no idea why. Tomas wasn’t there. Jens Mouris wasn’t there. I looked back, and I only saw Leigh and Aidis. Three kilometers from the finish, I pulled off and we had only two riders left – and that was my race.
I’m rooming with Leigh, and we’ve had a chance to talk about the finish. He told me he did what he could to protect Aidis in the finish, but they somehow got separated from one another. The last lap on the circuit was really dangerous. It was a nervous bunch from the moment we hit the circuit, and it was even more nervous as the kilometers ticked down.
Lacking a lead out, Aidis tried to find his own way, but he didn’t have the legs today. While it was an easy day, it was a really long day. He said his legs were lacking power in the end.
We had high hopes for a good effort in the sprint. Everyone was certainly up there until the crash divided the field. We fell short in part because we were lacking numbers. When I pulled off, I thought I would see two or three extra guys than we we had.
We’re certainly looking forward to giving it another go tomorrow. I feel a bit more warmed up to the race now after that sprint stage. Yesterday was a bit of a shock to the system. Today felt like the opener I needed.