The Czech survived a hard stage and will go into the final day of the Tour of Slovakia with a three-second gap.
Friday afternoon the peloton spent another day in the hills, taking on seven classified climbs that whittled down the group before the arrival in Spisska Nova Ves. Aside from the fight for the stage victory, those going for a good result in the general classification also went for the intermediate sprint which brought valuable bonifications. One of these was won by Mauri Vansevenant, after another perfect lead-out of Michael Mørkøv, the three bonus seconds scored there elevating the Belgian in the standings just behind his teammate Josef Cerny.
Numerous attacks tried to split the field on the last climb, but the peloton – despite counting only 30-odd riders – went after all these moves and kept things together for the final kilometer. The absence of the sprinters opened opportunities for other riders, and Josef got involved in the reduced sprint, coming close to a podium which would have netted him three bonus seconds.
Despite missing out on these for the smallest of margins, the yellow jersey remained on the shoulders of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s 29-year-old Czech, who will try to defend his three-second lead on the undulating last stage to Kosice.
Photo credit: ©Igor Stancik