Rafal Majka of the Tinkoff-Saxo team brought up his second win in Tour de France 2014 in Stage 17 on Wednesday. Giovanni Visconti of the Movistar team stood second while yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali of Astana came third.
Stage 17, between Saint Gaudens and Saint- Lary Pla'd Adet, was said to be the most exacting of this edition as it comprised of four mountain climbs in only 124.5 kilometres. It lived up to its billing. One of the climbs was a hors categorie one.
Majka took his time as it wasn't until the last climb that he mounted an attack. He surged past many contestants and then scripted a brilliant finish in the form of a solo ride in the final 2.4 kilometres of Stage 17.
The Pole's joy knew no bounds after he picked up the victory with Tinkoff-Saxo placing first thrice in the previous four races. "I'm just so happy about this result and these results that we have accomplished in the last couple of days," he was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.
Tinkoff-Saxo have done really well to not get bogged down after a crash forced Alberto Contandor out of the tournament .
Majka expressed his gratitude toward his team for guiding him very well. He also reserved praise for teammate Nicholas Roche who he felt was a very good team man.
"My teammates really worked hard for me and especially Nico was digging hard to set me up on the final climb," he pointed out.
Tinkoff-Saxo's manager Bjarne Riis spurred on the Stage 17 winner after Majka had doubts as to whether he'd triumph.
"I wasn't so sure about managing the stage at first but Bjarne told me to go for the stage and if we take the stage, we will have the jersey and here we are," he revealed.
As the last climb commenced four riders-- Roche, Visconti, Pierre Rolland of Europcar and Amael Moinard of BMC Racing— were ahead of the rest. Visconti then, in a burst of speed, raced past them. This nearly brought him the stage victory. Majka, however, in a quicker burst, thwarted him at the end.
"I tried so hard today. I really was thinking I could win, but unfortunately, Majka was looking for a win. He just dug deeper and had more than me, but I'm happy. It's ok to finish second," Visconti was quoted as saying by Velonews.com.
The greatly testing nature of this stage was driven home by overall leader Nibali. "The four climbs in a row really hurt. The team did an amazing job. I'm a bit relieved. I feared this stage a little bit. With such an intense stage, you never know what can happen," the Astana said.
Stage 17 results
1. Rafal Majka [Pol/Tinkoff-Saxo] 3hrs 35mins 23secs
2. Giovanni Visconti [Ita/Movistar]
3. Vincenzo Nibali [Ita/Astana]
4. Jean-Christophe Peraud [Fra/AG2R]
5. Alessandro De Marchi [Italy / Cannondale]
General classification standings
1. Vincenzo Nibali [Ita/Astana] 76hrs 41mins 28secs
2. Alejandro Valverde [Spa/Movistar] +5:26
3. Thibaut Pinot [Fra/FDJ.fr] +6:00
4. Jean-Christophe Peraud [Fra/AG2R]+6:08
5. Romain Bardet [Fra/AG2R] +7:34