Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) won on the summit finish of Strbse Pleso to move to within one second of the overall lead of the Tour of Poland on stage five.
The Tour de France King of the Mountains winner was well protected by his team, who did much of the pace-setting as the race encountered the final category one climb, before a perfectly-timed attack to take victory on the line.
Previous leader Petr Vakoc (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) was dropped by the bunch on the final climb, but sprinted hard into the final few hundred metres in a desperate bid to keep his gold jersey.
His effort was initially adjudged to have fallen just short by mere milliseconds as Majka moved into pole position overall, but the general classification was later corrected as Vakoc was awarded a one-second lead.
The first mountainous stage of this year’s race saw a strong breakaway group go clear early on, with eight teams represented up the road.
Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Sebastian Lander (BMC Racing) and Jimmy Engoulvent (Team Europcar) were all part of the eight-man move.
Joined by Marco Haller (Katusha), Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Pawel Bernas (Poland) and King of the Mountains Maciej Paterski (CCC Polsat Polkowice), the group held a decent, but not overly concerning, lead over the bunch.
With little freedom afforded to them, Paterski and Lander attacked as the former sought more King of the Mountains points.
Omega Pharma-Quickstep led the initial chase, though with the break splintered by a lack of cohesion several riders made digs off the front.
Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEDGE) chased down the leaders to go clear on his own, with Adriano Malori (Movistar) and Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing) among the chasers but the peloton, now led by Garmin-Sharp, set a fast pace behind.
Attempting to set something up for Ryder Hesjedal, the American team took charge of the bunch as they swallowed up all of the chasers – allowing Hesjedal the chance to try and bridge to his compatriot.
He was brought back by Tinkoff-Saxo on the final descent however – though it did not deter the Canadian from making further moves.
Short-lived attacks off the front from Kanstantin Siutsou (Team Sky) and Ilnur Zakarin (RusVelo) on the category-one summit finish failed to come to anything, before Hesjedal took charge again on the front.
The Canadian hit the front with Weening on his wheel as the leading group was whittled down on the brutal climb.
Hesjedal’s injection of pace had the effect of dropping race leader Petr Vakoc, who had been doing well to stick with the likes of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the front group.
The Czech rider fell a few lengths behind at the back, but looked to be safe in yellow until Weening burst clear of Hesjedal on the front.
Weening led solo under the flamme rouge but with the gradients showing no sign of letting up his attack was finally brought back into check as Benat Inxausti (Movistar) caught and passed him on the front.
Intxausti and Gianluca Brambilla (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) looked to be contesting the stage but Majka dug deep.
Sticking in the slipstream of Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) for as long as possible, the Pole timed his attack to perfection to take the stage win, punching the air in delight as his rich vein of form continued.
Behind, all eyes turned to Vakoc who launched a furious attack in the final kilometre, and despite the clock initially being ruled against him by the narrowest of margins, he will wear the gold jersey ahead of the mountainous stage six.
Tour of Poland 2014: stage five – result
1) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo – 4.30.38hrs
2) Benat Intxausti (ESP) – Movistar – ST
3) Jon Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar
4) Gianluca Brambilla (ITA) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
5) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Giant-Shimano
6) Samuel Sanchez (ESP) – BMC Racing
7) Davide Formolo (ITA) – Cannondale
8) Lars-Petter Nordhaug (NOR) – Belkin Pro Cycling
9) Andrey Amador (CRC) – Movistar
10) Przemyslaw Niemiec (POL) – Lampre-Merida
1) Petr Vakoc (CZE) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 25.05.29hrs
2) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo +1″
3) Benat Intxausti (ESP) – Movistar +5”
4) Jon Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar +7”
5) Davide Formolo (ITA) – Cannondale +11”
6) Giampaolo Caruso (ITA) – Katusha – ST
7) Marek Rutkiewicz (POL) – CCC Polsat Polkowice
8) Peter Velits (SVK) – BMC Racing
9) Andrey Amador (CRC) – Movistar
10) Robert Gesink (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling