SAN DIEGO, July 23, 2014 – Polish rider Rafal Majka of TInkoff-Saxo winked at the television camera following him up the mountain to victory on Stage 17 at the 2014 Tour de France. That’s how much energy and swagger he had as he blew away the rest of the field for the win. It is the second win for Majka, making him the first Polish rider to win two stages of the Tour.
Majka placed sixth in the Giro d’Italia and wasn’t even supposed to compete at the Tour for Tinkoff. Then he was supposed to support team leader Alberto Contador, but Contador went out after breaking his leg. Majka surged ahead to win two stages, the second day in a row for Tinkoff-Saxo and the third stage overall. Majka, who is just 24 years old, will be a force in cycling for many years to come.
“When I heard we had two minutes lead at the top of the second last climb, I’ve believed I could win the stage. I was feeling good,” said Majka.
“This is my first Tour de France and I already have two stage victories. I really like the Tour de France now. Maybe, it’s the best Grand Tour for me because the weather is good, unlike at the Giro… We didn’t win one but three stages, and now with the polka dot jersey, I feel good. But there’s still one hard stage to go, I will fight more because this jersey is really important for the team.”
Vicenzo Nibali put the hammer down on his rivals just to make a point, placing third on the stage and gaining a few additional seconds in the lead. Barring a crash, illness or horrible failure at the time trial Friday, the Tour victory is in Nibali’s hands.
“My condition is very good,” said Nibali. “I’ve looked at pushing on my pedals until the very end but also thinking of the day after. Had riders like Froome and Contador still been here racing, I might have been forced to push more and race in a more conservative way. When those riders attack, they are very explosive.
Nibali has an invitation waiting for him following his expected victory. “It’s true that I received a text message from [Italian Prime Minister] Matteo Renzi who invited me to the Chigi Palace to celebrate my victory. I’ve replied that only after winning, if I do so, I’ll be able to say that I’ll be present. I was pleased by his message. It means he’s interested in sport.”
Alejandro Valverde of Movistar stays in second place, but just by seconds over Thibaut Pinot of FDJ in third. With a great ride today, Jean-Christophe Peraud of AG2R moved into fourth place. Pinot’s rival for the young rider’s white jersey, Romain Bardet of AG2R, is now in fifth. American Tejay Van Garderen did what he needed to do to remain in sixth place. Van Garderen is running out of chances to gain enough time to make it to the podium in Paris. See the entire classification here.
Stage winner Majka solidfied his leaad in the King of the Mountains competition. Pinot wears the white jersey. Peter Sagan retains the green sprinter’s jersey. Romain Bardet gets to wear the red number as the most combative rider.
One more stage in the Pyrenees and one more chance for the overall contenders to try and gain time on the leaders. Competitors must focus and be certain they don’t lose time to anyone who poses a threat. This stage includes one of the most famous climbs of the Tour, the Col du Tourmalet.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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