El Puma de Tuquerres signed his name to the reigning stage in the 2013 Tour de Pologne. On the finish line at Bukowina Tatrzanska Darwin Atapuma (Colombia Coldeportes) prevailed in a two man sprint sprint over Frenchman Christophe Riblon (Ag2r La Mondiale). It was a victory strongly desired by Atapuma, who had already been second at Campiglio and was often seen in the breaks and on the attack.
The group of the best had a 22 second lead, regulated by Czech Leopold Konig (NettApp) with Jon Izaguirre (Euskaltel) who had to give up the yellow Skandia jersey to Riblon. Now Riblon, already the winner of the super Dolomite stage on Passo Pordoi, on the eve of the final time trial in Krakow is the new leader of the GC, with 19 seconds of advantage over the Spaniard and 20 over Poland's Rafal Majka, who fell today about 8km from the finish line, in a classification that's still wide open with the first 10 riders bunched into less than a minute.
The Bukowina Tatrzanska stage, with its 38.4 km circuit to repeat 5 times for a total of 192 km with 10 gpm, as always turned out to be compelling and hard fought, with a continuous series of breaks and attacks. But it was in the final two laps that the race really started heating up. The couple formed by Atapuma with Russian Sergei Chernetski (Katusha) Were commanding in the last turn after breaking out from the group of fugitives made up of Italian champion Ivan Santaromita (BMC Racing), Robert Kiserlovski (Radioshak), Leopold Konig (NettApp), Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp), Polish champion Michal Golas (Omega Pharma) and Italian Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida).
It was in this phase that Riblon took off out of nowhere just at the right time, catching up with the first group of fugitives and from here all alone to catch Atapuma who in the meanwhile had remained alone at the head, with the two riders keeping it up all the way to the finish line, Atapuma with the goal of winning the stage and Riblon with his eye on the yellow jersey.
"The entire day was difficult in the circuit, I was always in the lead positions in the peloton to try and save Energy” explains Riblon. “Even in the final lap I was at the head of the group. On the second climb of the last lap I knew at my legs were good. Majka and Henao attacked but I saw they weren't exactly super so I counter attacked and nobody managed to keep up with me. For me it was a good chance to gain some seconds in the general classification. I thought I had some allies in the lead group. I was afraid they would attack but everyone was really tired. When I ended up with Atapuma the circumstances of the race made it so that he won the stage and I gained seconds for the GC. I would have liked to have had a couple of changes from him to earn a few extra seconds, but that's ok. I'm satisfied, it's always better to have a few seconds' advantage than to be late. I really like time trials as a specialty, I have good legs and I hope I can actually win the Tour de Pologne."
"I'm very happy, it's a very special victory for me because it was the first one of the year and the team's first World Tour” says Atapuma. “We've been going for it since day one. Yesterday I gave it a go, today I felt good and with the work of the team we did well and I kept my strength to pull through the final. When Riblon came up from behind he was very strong. I had legs to bust the sprint, I knew that he could take the leadership and I could have the stage. In the final I didn't help him because I was really tired but I went for the sprint and I won. I'm happy because we fought hard all year; it's been really hard but we haven't managed to win. At the Giro we didn't win one stage and I'm happy to have finally done so in this great race."
If we have to wait for tomorrow's time trial to see who gets to take home the yellow Skandia jersey, the Bukowina stage has however decreed Poland's own Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil) winner of the cyclamen Tauron jersey for the gpm and his fellow countryman Bartosz Huzarski (NettApp) winner of the red jersey as the most active rider in the group. Riblon also took the white-red Lang Team jersey for the points' classification. Radioshack is still ahead in the team classification.
Special guest at Bukowina Tatrzanska was the number one in Polish cycling Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma), second at the tour de Pologne in 2012 behind Moreno Moser and recently returned home after figuring as a major player in the Tour de France.
See and download the photos: