25 July, 2014
Stage 17 : Saint-Gaudens - Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d'Adet, 125 km
'Cheeky' Majka claims second stage win.
Rafal Majka's confidence in the closing kilometres of the short but exhausting stage to Pla d'Adet was matched by his cheekiness when he slung shot off the back of a camera motorbike then winked at the camera a short while later. The Polish rider then winked again as he reached the final few hundred more before crossing the line for a solo win.
Speaking after Majka said, "I didn't go for the first GPM with Rodriguez because Bjarne [Riis] told me wait, wait Rafal, we need to win the stage. When we win the stage, we have the jersey. I won the stage and now I have the jersey."
22 riders in the lead after the col du Portillon
Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff), Blel Kadri (AG2R), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin), Yukiya Arashiro and Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Jens Voigt (Trek), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Martin Elmiger (IAM) attacked in the second kilometer of racing.
Despite covering the first 50km in uner an hour the break was picked up at the foort of the col du Portillon. Six riders rode away at the initiative of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) whose focus was on the polka dot jersey. Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre), Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff), Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and David Lopez (Sky) accompanied him.
After Rodriguez took ten points at the Portillon, 16 riders bridged the gap on the descent: Vassil Kiriyenka (Sky), Jesus Herrada, Jon Izagirre and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Blel Kadri (AG2R), Tom Dumoulin (Giant), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto), Amaël Moinard and Peter Velits (BMC), Pierre Rolland, Yukiya Arashiro and Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Fränck Schleck (Trek) and Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis).
Kiriyenka: 34km alone in the mountains
Kiriyenka attacked at the city limit of Bagnères-de-Luchon with 56km to go. He bought himlsef a lead of five minutes managing to ride solo over the col de Peyresourde and Val Louron while the peloton was cruising behind. The Belarus rider was finally reined in the last kilometre of the penultimate climb, where Rodriguez outsprinted Majka. Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) attacked from the yellow jersey group in the downhill.
Majka follows in the wheel tracks of Jaskula
At the foot of the day's final test to Pla d’Adet four men, Rolland, Roche, Moinard and Viscont, made a bid ofr glory. The Sicilian Visconti went solo with 9km to go., but Majka in search of mountain points and a second stage win came across to him with 4.2km to go.
Nibali who, like Mount Etna on his native Sicily, is never really dormant exploded into action and accelerated away. Jean-Christophe Péraud was teh only man to stay wth him. Up the road Majka dropped Visconti with 2.5km to go. Majka was no doubt aware that 21 years before Zenon Jaskula became the first Polish rider to win a stage of the Tour de France on this very spot at Saint-Lary.
The Tinkoff-Saxo climber now has another stage win to go with his victory on stage 14 at Risoul.
Alejandro Valverde saved his second place on GC despite slipping further behind Nibali who was a brilliant third finisher. Péraud, the only rider able to accompany the yellow jersey, closed in on third place Thibaut Pinot to bolster the chances of a Frenchman on final podium in Paris.