A week is a lifetime in politics, as the saying goes, and for professional cyclist Dylan Teuns, seven days is all it has taken to see a massive upturn in his career, with four victories in that period crowned with a win on Monday in the Tour de Pologne.
A third year professional with the BMC Racing Team, Teuns' first win of his career arrived last week on home soil, in the Ardennes town of Houffalize in Belgium's Tour de Wallonie. Already in the lead of the race, that victory in some of Belgium's hilliest territory was followed by both a repeat stage win two days later, as well as the top spot in the overall classification.
Much more was to come in the Tour de Pologne's stage 3 summit finish above the hill town of Szczyrk on Monday, at the top of a wooded, narrow and steep 1.5-kilometre ascent. A lanky climber, Teuns powered out of the shattered peloton behind Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) to claim his fourth victory in a week, his first in the WorldTour and a valuable second place, too, on the overall classification. He also had the strength to fend off a challenger as formidable as an in-form Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), something few riders are capable of doing.
"This has been an amazing week already, four wins in seven days," Teuns said before reeling off the list of his victories to a huddled mass of Polish reporters.
After Wallonie, the BMC Racing Team had gambled on Teuns making an impact on the final climb on this stage, with teammate Rohan Dennis doing a lot of hard work to bring back late attacker Jack Haig (Orica-Scott). But when Yates made his move on the final ascent, it had to be an out-and-out climber like Teuns – third in Fleche Wallonne this spring, on a far steeper final ascent – who shot after the Briton
"We didn't take responsibility early on, but the team worked really hard in the final part to get the victory, that was the plan," Teuns recounted. "They did a really good job to bring me in the perfect position."
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An impressively strong climbing performance in the Tour de Pologne on its first uphill finish by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has placed the Slovak back in the lead and underlined his status as a top favourite for the outright victory.
No matter how many riders were shed on each the ferocious series of steady climbs through the hills of southern Poland on Monday's stage, Sagan's figure was constantly popping in and out of the TV cameras' field of vision, always sitting somewhere between 10th and 15th place behind the lead rider. Whilst BMC Racing Team, Sky and Katusha-Alpecin were far more active close to the front, Sagan was clearly waiting for his moment to come.
The searing two-headed attack by Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) and Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing Team) during the crunch moments of the final ascent seemed to have foiled any plans Sagan might have of winning. Instead, as Yates faded, Sagan began a relentless late acceleration through the flailing survivors in the front group, finally rising all the way to second behind stage winner Teuns.
A second stage win was not possible, but for now, Sagan is back in the lead. "Today was much harder than I expected," Sagan told reporters afterwards "and in the end, our tactic was if I could get over the four classified climbs I would try to go for the win."
"We decided in the last climb we would see if [teammate] Rafal Majka would be better than me or the other way round, so we tried to go for the stage win. But afterwards we slipped a little bit in the last 400 metres, the guy from BMC [Teuns] just got away from us.
"We almost got him, but the finish came too soon. It's very important, though, to get the yellow jersey back. We'll take it day by day but for sure we'll go for GC with Rafal."
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