BMC's Thor Hushovd won stage 3 of 70th Tour de Pologne, claiming his 4th victory of this season. Norwegian champion did a brilliant job, using his longtime experience and outsprinting Mark Renshaw and Steele von Hoff on the roads of Rzeszów.
It was good to see Michał Gołaś finishing 7th but when I saw the bunch taking the final corner, I already knew the rider I'll be talking to. Polish National Team is participating in the race and they have only one man who is capable of fighting in the sprint.
21-year-old Paweł Franczak finished 16th in a bunch sprint. Many people will say: "Oh, 16th, really? Nothing to talk about. "Mostly true - the place is not impresive, there aren't many top sprinters here butI think he deserves to be mentioned.
Franczak has never competed in such a race. He is currently racing for Polish Continental team Wibatech Brzeg, taking part in races on Polish roads. This year he won the last stage of Carpathian Couriers Race, finishing this international U-23 event with powerful sprint and beautiful victory in Tarnów. In June he took 4th in Polish Nationals in U-23 road race, participating in the action of the race along with Łukasz Wiśniowski.
Considering his lack of experience and to such races, he did pretty well. His first reaction: The weather has really put us through the wringer. I was feeling good, I even managed to get involved in one of the early breakaways - together with Łukasz Bodnar we bridged to attacking riders but the peleton didn't want to let us go.
Franczak, who has never participated in such a race, at such a high level, tried to save a much energy as possible during first two stages. Mountain roads of Dolomites are not the terrain for him, as he prefers to focus on classics or hilly stages. 21-year-old spent some time in grupetto and finished the first part of the race unscratched. Polish roads and two flat stage seemed to be much more suitable for him. Unfortunately, the crash ended his plans of a good position in the final sprint. When I called him after the stage, he was waiting for the tests results in the hospital.
I wasn't lucky - slippery roads and nervous moves in the peleton caused a crash. I went down, got a lot of bruises. My hands were in terrible condition, really. I was even thinking of abandoning the stage - it looked awful and hurt so much that I thought several fingers are broken - Franczak told me.
I really wanted to get to the finish - participating in this race is a dream come true for many Polish riders. I managed to get to Rzeszów. The pace was very high, the rounds technical and dangerous. I tried to stay at the front and despite pain take part in the sprint. I finished 16th. Well, truth to tell, I'm disappointed. I know I had the legs to be in top10 but after the crash I was felling really bad, as I had problems with handling my bike.
Franczak recovered well and even took part in a breakaway on the next stage. When we talked in Nowy Targ yesterday, he seemed much more optimistic and the hand injuries turned out not to be that serious.