Great Britain’s Robert Donaldson won the fourth stage of the ORLEN Nations Grand Prix ahead of his team-mate Lukas Nerurkar in second place and Italy’s Francesco Busatto, yesterday’s winner.
“The goal was to defend the general classification and win the stage. I made a mistake on a descent about 50km from the finish and crashed in a hairpin, which made the stage a bit tricky because I had to use some guys from the team to get me back into the bunch and they did a great job. The pace was very high and I was a long way behind. It was a very hard comeback, about 20km at full throttle,” said a delighted Robert Donaldson. “When we got back we knew we had a good chance. Callum set the pace on the climb, a few guys dropped out and in the end, although it was a bit chaotic, we did our job and moved at the right time. I’m happy that it went the way it did. I feel great, it’s my first win and I couldn’t be happier. The track was fantastic in a beautiful country. My team worked hard and I repaid them! Wonderful.”
Today’s stage, the first on Polish soil, covered 129km from Bukovina Resort to Nowy Sącz with several short but tough climbs, the last of which ended with just over 10km to go.
The Bukovina Resort GPM came 5km into the race, and it was Polish rider Mateusz Gajdulewicz who was the first to break away from the peloton immediately after the start.
He was then joined by two other riders, Lithuanian Mikutis and Swiss Schönenberger, and the three of them rode together until they had gained almost 5′ on the peloton with around 60km to go.
Despite some difficulties due to two crashes involving several riders, the peloton did not sit back and with the work of first Portugal and then Great Britain, Gajdulewicz, the last to give up, was caught with 15km to go.
On the final climb, the Italian Giulio Pellizzari and the Slovenian Gal Glivar tried to take advantage, but their attack was also neutralised by the British, who knew they had a great chance of winning today.
Indeed, the Brits did a great job of setting up Robert Donaldson, who sprinted to win the stage, followed by compatriot Lukas Nerurkar and Italian Francesco Busatto, who had to settle for third place today after yesterday’s victory.
“It was a tough stage,” said Lukas Nerurkar. “I struggled a bit on some of the climbs, but I was able to keep my pace and recover on the descents, and I had some fantastic teammates who helped me throughout the day, so I’m really happy. Unfortunately one of our strongest guys, who would have been crucial in the finale, crashed on one of the descents, but we managed to stay with the group and not lose any time. The team got some bonuses today, so tomorrow we will do our best to take the jersey,” he concluded.
Nikolaj Mengel was also able to defend the leader’s jersey in the general classification today. The battle for the general classification will be postponed until tomorrow’s final and decisive stage, which will see the riders battle it out over 145km from Sanok to the Hotel Arłamów.