Warsaw (AFP) - Belarussian champion Yauheni Hutarovich won the first stage of the Tour of Poland after 226km from Gdansk to Bydgoszcz on Sunday in a sprint finish.
The AG2R rider edged out Russian Roman Maikin and Italy's Manuele Mori in the dash to the line.
Favourites including Poland's Rafal Majka, Dutchman Pieter Weening and Frenchman Warren Barguil finished safely in the pack.
A five-man breakaway had enjoyed a large lead over the peloton but they were held up by a hailstorm with around 50km left.
Fallen branches in the road also caused crashes in the main bunch as the chase briefly stalled.
Pole Maciej Paterski broke clear of his escape companions when all four others went down on a slippery corner.
Although two managed to catch the 27-year-old, he attacked again and led until around 1km to go when the peloton reeled him in.
Thereafter it was set up for a bunch sprint and Hutarovich proved the strongest.