Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) won stage 14 of the Tour de France Saturday, holding off a late charge from race leader Vincenzo Nibali at the end of the testing day that concluded atop the cat. 1 Risoul ascent. Though Nibali missed out on another stage win (he already has three), the Italian further padded his lead in the overall standings, putting nearly 30 seconds or more into his closest rivals.
The Astana captain is now a gaping 4:37 ahead of Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who had a tough final few kilometers, losing touch with a second chase group that included fellow podium challengers Romain Bardet (Ag2R), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) and American Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
Valverde’s hold on the second podium spot is now tenuous, with just 13 seconds separating him from young French sensation Bardet, who also sits atop the best young rider standings. Pinot is another 16 seconds behind Bardet, with van Garderen 5th overall, at 5:49.
Tomorrow, the GC men should have an easier go of things. Unless wind or other inclement weather blows the race apart, look for this long and flat transitional stage from Tallard to Nimes to be one for the sprinters. The almost dead flat 222km stage finishes in front of an ancient Roman amphitheater in Nimes. See stage 14 results here.
The long ride from Grenoble to Risoul summit included no shortage of amazing alpine scenery. Photo by Graham Watson
Love or loathe, you cant miss the unique POC shades being worn by Garmin-Sharp’s Jack Bauer and the rest of his team. Photo by Graham Watson
The day’s second climb was to the 2014’s Tour’s highpoint atop the Col d’Izoard, with it’s amazing and inspiring rock formations. Photo by Graham Watson
Despite being isolated late in the race, yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali showed no signs of weakness, and instead further expanded his lead. Photo by Graham Watson
Young Frenchman Romain Bardet has a solid hold on the white jersey, and is looking good for a place on the final podium in Paris. Photo by Graham Watson
Did we mention the scenery. Photo by Graham Watson
American Tejay van Garderen launched an attack that unhitched second-placed Alejandro Valverde, helping the BMC rider gain precious time in his quest to finish on the final podium in Paris. Photo by Graham Watson
Nibali was joined late by Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2R), who jumped to sixth in the overall standings. Photo by Graham Watson
Stage winner Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) wears both the pain and glory of the day. Photo by Graham Watson
Van Garderen breaks down what was one of his best days at this year’s Tour. Photo by Graham Watson
Not a bad place to ride a bike. Photo by Graham Watson