Yauheni Hutarovich of Belarus claimed one of the biggest wins of his career after surging to victory in the hardest fought of three successive bunch sprints in the Tour of Poland on Tuesday.
In a downhill charge for the finish line in Katowice, where riders reached speeds of nearly 80kph, the FDJ rider pipped Argentine Lucas Sebastian Haedo by less than a half a wheel to win the third stage.
Australia’s Allan Davis was third, retaining the overall lead ahead of stage two winner Andre Greipel of Germany by a mere three seconds.
Tuesday’s sprint was so close that Haedo raised his arm in victory but Hutarovich said he knew he had the first ProTour win of his career safely in his saddlebag.
“When you’re a sprinter you always know if you’re first across the line, even if it’s by 2cm,” Hutarovich told reporters.
“It was a really, really fast sprint, I think I hit 77kph at one point, but it’s the chaotic, dangerous ones like today’s where I seem to do the best,” he said.
“Whatever, it’s a huge win for me, one of the biggest of my career, although taking Belarus’ national road-race title twice was equally important,” he said.
Race leader Davis told reporters the downhill dash for the line was “one of the fastest I’ve ever done. Sprinting on such a steep descent made it really hectic and crazy.”
“In fact it was so fast you couldn’t follow anybody’s wheel in the last kilometer. When I crossed the line I thought I was second, but I couldn’t be sure,” he said.
“Still, I’ve had three top three places in three days and the leader’s jersey so I can’t complain,” Davis said.
The shortest stage of the Tour was preceded by a minute’s silence in honor of Italy team trainer and double Paris-Roubaix winner Franco Ballerini who died in a car accident in February.
Olympic and double world champion Paolo Bettini, who took over as national team coach after Ballerini’s death, flew in specially to be present at the ceremony.
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