Florian Lipowitz of the Bora-Hansgrohe team won the 167-kilometre second stage of the Czech Tour, which went from Olomouc to Pustevny. The German rider did the best he could on a rainy day, during which the competitors climbed 2,840 metres and climbed up Pustevny twice. In doing so he claimed the first professional victory of his career.
Lipowitz reached the finish line two seconds ahead of Norwegian Per Strand Hagenes of the Jumbo-Visma team. Another Norwegian rider, Andreas Halla Johannessen, was third, 23 seconds behind. The best of the Czechs was fourth-placed Adam Ťoupalík (Elkov-Kasper), who crossed the finish line 25 seconds behind the winner. The biggest name at the start, Chris Froome, is in 126th position on the leaderboard, more than 22 minutes down on the winner. The leader going into the stage, Itamar Einhorn, failed to finish the stage after a minor fall.
The peloton faced its first mountain challenge today, and right from the start a few riders tried to get away. However, it was at around the 50-kilometre mark that four riders mounted a successful break-away. Matěj Zahálka of the Czech Elkov-Kasper team was among them, just as in the first stage, together with Slovakian Matúš Štoček of ATT Investments, Belgian Ruben Apers and Toby Perry of Britain. The group built up a lead of more than seven minutes, and during the first visit to Pustevny, Zahálka won the first climb bonus and, as a result, wore the polka dot jersey.
However, the lead of the four started to decrease, and before the second and final climb back to Pustevny, it was already less than a minute. Zahálka attacked again just before the finish line and keep the lead for a while, but he too was swallowed up by the chasing pack. The Czechs did well today, in addition to fourth place for Adam Ťoupalík, eighth was Jakub Otruba, thirteenth Karel Vacek and twenty-second Karel Camrda.
"Today was really good, I've been feeling good for the past few weeks, and when you have good legs, you can power up a hill as hard as this one to the finish line," said winner Lipowitz. After the first climb of Pustevny, he lost a bit on the descent, but managed to get back to the front. "I was lucky a few times on the downhill, it was wet, so I had to change my plan to ride at a decent pace up the hill to a very fast climb. Luckily it worked out and the whole team is very happy that we have the yellow jersey," he added.
Adam Ťoupalík did not expect to finish so high in today's demanding stage. "I didn't know how I would do, this year has not been great for me, but when I went up Pustevny for the second time, I felt I had something in reserve. Ahead of the finish line, a couple of rivals took it, so there was a lot of jostling and tactics, but the last kilometre was already a sprint for position," explained Ťoupalík. "Maybe I should have tried earlier, a podium is a podium. I will try to improve it tomorrow. The first metres will tell, but it will be a long day, there are more hills, the final three are the biggest, but I want to fight again for the best possible position," he added.