Rafal Majka (POL) wins stage 14 of the Tour de France. Photo by Graham Watson
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.
Majka, 24, had been brought to the Tour to work for GC favorite Alberto Contador. But when the former yellow jersey winner crashed out, the young Polish rider was given the chance to ride for himself. He slipped into the early breakaway that included 17 riders, then was last man standing at the finish of another dramatic day at the Tour.
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.
STAGE 14 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 14
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Astana Pro Team
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (SVK), Cannondale
Polka Dot Jersey: Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP), Team Katusha
White Jersey: Romain Bardet (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale