Sport Cycling Polish rider Majka takes tour stage win

Polish rider Majka takes tour stage win

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Young Polish rider Rafal Majka made up for the disappointment of finishing second on Friday by winning Saturday’s 14th stage of the Tour de France.

Majka joined a group of 17 escapees early on in the 177km Alpine stage from Grenoble to Risoul and was able to hold on all the way to the finish.

Race leader Vincenzo Nibali came home in second place to extended his overall advantage in the yellow jersey competition while 37-year-old Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud took third on the stage.

It was a welcome relief for Majka having been reeled in and passed by Nibali on Friday’s first stage in the Alps, but also for his Tinkoff-Saxo team after losing leader Alberto Contador to injury.

“This morning I spoke with my teammates because yesterday I was second and I spoke also with the team and (manager) Bjarne (Riise) and I said if I get in the breakaway I will win the stage,” said the 24-year-old Majka.

“At the bottom of the final climb we had an advantage of 1min 10sec over the peloton and I attacked and I dropped everyone, (Joaquim) Rodriguez and the Cannondale rider (Alessandro De Marchi) and I tried to win alone.

“When the gap was 35sec with 2km left to the finish I kept my motivation and fought for the stage win.”

Majka held on to win by 24sec to Nibali with Peraud another two seconds behind.

Nibali had attacked his rivals in the overall standings inside the final 4km and as he rode away the true battle for the podium places really started to hot up.

Second placed Alejandro Valverde started to struggle around 2km from home, allowing young French pair Thibaut Pinto and Romain Bardet, as well as American Tejay Van Garderen, to gain time as they came in fifth through seventh.

Valverde finished tenth and he now trails Nibali by 4min 37sec in the general classification with Bardet at 4:50.

The best-placed Australian remains Richie Porte, who actually improved one spot to 15th overall.

But the Sky team leader was 27th across the line, more than five minutes down, and now trails Nibali by 16:03.

Nibali had won the three previous uphill finishes and when he started to close in on Majka, it looked like he might maintain a 100 per cent record on the summits.

But he said that wasn’t his aim.

“When I attacked I tried to gain time, I saw that with a 50-second lead it would be difficult to catch Majka for the victory,” said the 29-year-old from Sicily.

“I tried to manage the situation and just put some time into Valverde and the other rivals.

“I felt good so I could try something and things went well.”