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The Kittel is back!

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After a long dry season plagued with injury and troubles getting back to form Marcel Kittel returned to his winning ways on stage 1 of the Tour of Poland. In a thrilling duel he beat young Caleb Ewan to th line to take his first win since September last year.

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Not much to say about a long eventless stage to Warsaw.  A three man break of Mohoric, Pawel Bernas and Adrian Kurek was reeled in well in time to set up a big sprint on the circuits in downtown Warsaw.

Most confident for the sprint were Movistar and Orica who took control going into the last few kilometers. Movistar were to get little to show for it with their man JJ Lobato totally out of the action while the confidence in Ewan proved well founded. In the twisty final kilometer Giant-Alpecin had appeared at the front with Kittel in tow and they delivered him perfectly and he launched from the front perfectly timed. Ewan was not giving up without a fight though and dove in on the inside of the turn with 300m to go. He and Kittel touched shoulders and it looked a little bit hairy for a second before Ewan zoomed past on the inside. The daring line forced him wide on the extít of the curve though and Kittel used his tighter arc to accelerate out of the curve and come past a Ewan who was desperately fighting to get his speed back up. It was in vain though as Kittel was carrying the superior speed and could celebrate on the line.

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Hopefully this is a sign that the big man is on his way to finding his old self again, which could only be good news for all of us wanting to see high caliber sprints. For guys like Cav and Greipel it is slightly ominous of course but even they will be happy to see Kittel back I would wager.

The Tour of Poland continues with two more easier stages that look set to be for the sprinters before we see three hillier stages, culminating in the stage to Bukowina Tatrzánska on Friday. This is the one that has seen some timegaps in the last few editions and that along with the 25 km timetrial on Saturday is where the race is likely to be decided. No real mountain stage or significant uphill finish in this edition so it should come down to a tight race where timebonuses might even prove decisive.

The field of overall contenders is a bit hazy still with a hard to judge field of riders coming off a long rest and some using the, probably fading, form they came out of the TdF with. Polish World Champ Kwiatkowski looks like an obvious and popular contender given his allround skills that look taylor fitted to this course. Question is if he can get his body back in gear and if his form is good enough. He'll likely have to contend with guys like Diego Ulissi, Ion Izairre, Robert Gesink, Robert Kiserlovski and maybe even the man-of-the-spring Ilnur Zakharin for the win. There isn't really a standout favorite here though. We'll likely have to wait until Wednesday-Thursday to see who is really here to contest this race, there is a lot of room for an in-form outsider to grab a big win in a race like this.