Tour de France: Rafal Majka climbs to solo win on stage 14 as Vincenzo Nibali extends lead
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 19/07/14 6:42pm
Breakaway rider Rafal Majka climbed to a solo victory on stage 14 of the Tour de France as Vincenzo Nibali extended his overall lead by another minute.
Majka formed part of a strong 17-man breakaway early in the day but moved into lone lead with an acceleration 8.4km from the summit finish in Risoul and held on to win by 24 seconds.
Nibali was the next man over the line after dropping all of his rivals for overall victory with an attack 3.6km out, while Jean-Christophe Peraud finished two seconds later in third after being the only rider able to follow the Italian's surge.
Nibali’s lead at the top of the general classification is now 4min 37sec after second-placed Alejandro Valverde wilted badly on the final climb and lost 60 seconds to the yellow jersey holder.
Valverde was also distanced by the riders immediately behind him in the standings and consequently sees his advantage over third-placed Romain Bardet cut to just 13 seconds, with Thibaut Pinot a further 16 seconds adrift in fourth.
Majka said: “This is the first professional victory of my career. I am always second or third, but today I knew I needed to attack on the climb. I needed to win some big stage at the Tour de France."
Stage 14 took the riders over the huge Alpine climbs of the Col du Lautaret and Col d’Izoard, before ending with a second successive summit finish.
A 17-man breakaway containing Team Sky duo Geraint Thomas and Mikel Nieve, Englishman Simon Yates, Joaquim Rodriguez, Peter Sagan and Ireland's Nicolas Roche was allowed to move clear and build up a lead of over four minutes early in the day, but when that was cut to less than three minutes on the Izoard and then to just over a minute leading on to the final climb, it looked certain that all of the escapees would be caught well before the finish.
Nibali drops rivals
Majka had other ideas, though, and after chasing down an attack from Alessandro De Marchi, he left the Italian behind with an acceleration of his own on the lower slopes of the road up to Risoul.
He was able to stretch his lead from around 40 seconds to more than a minute, and that cushion proved enough to ensure the 24-year-old becomes only the second Polish rider in history to win a stage of the Tour.
Back down the road, the peloton was whittled down to just a small group made up mainly of general classification contenders, but with no one committing to an attack, Nibali took matters into his own hands with a ferocious burst of speed. He quickly halved his deficit to Majka, but was unable to make the catch and subsequently missed out on a fourth stage win of the race.
Valverde, meanwhile, was by now struggling badly and fell away following an attack 2km out from Tejay van Garderen, who himself then lost ground when Pinot and Bardet began sprinting for the finish line.
Stage 14 result
1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo, 5:08:27
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +0:24
3 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +0:26
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +0:50
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, same time
6 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC, +0:54
7 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racin, +1:01
8 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin, +1:07
9 Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp-Endura. +1:20
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +1:24
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 61:52:54
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +4:37
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +4:50
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +5:06
5 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC, +5:49
6 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +6:08
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +8:33
8 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura, +9:32
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin, +10:01
10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar, +10:48