21 July, 2014
Stage 14 : Grenoble - Risoul, 177km
Rafa Majka solos to impressive win in Risoul.
Polish rider Rafa Majka gave Tinkoff Saxo something to cheer about with a naill-biting solo win. Majka was the solo survivor of a 17-man break that had dominated the day, attacking at the foot of the final climb to arrive just 24" ahead of Nibali who ran out of road after attacking a shedding all but JC Peraud in the last 10km.
Alberto Contador was quick to congratulate his teammate via twitter:
Rodriguez the first in action
Joaquim Rodriguez made his intentions clear from the gun. He rode flat out until a breakaway was formed but it happened to be a serious split in the bunch with approximately forty riders going clear, including race leader Vincenzo Nibali and runner up Alejandro Valverde but not the French duelists Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot. Eventually, the first part of the peloton also split and a group of 17 leaders was formed at km 16 with Mikel Nieve and Geraint Thomas (Sky), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Rafal Majka and Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff), Peter Sagan and Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Steven Kruijswijk (Belkin), Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Albert Timmer (Giant), José Serpa (Lampre), Amaël Moinard (BMC), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Nicolas Edet and Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis) and Simon Yates (Orica).
Rodriguez first at the Lautaret and the Izoard
The maximum time gap was reached at km 79: 5.05. There wasn’t any attack up to the col de Lautaret where Rodriguez scored ten points in his quest of the polka dot jersey. He added another 25 points at the col d’Izoard and collected the 5000 euros prime of the Souvenir Henri-Desgrange awarded at the highest summit of the Tour de France in memory of the founder of the Tour de France. With 75km to go, NetApp looked worried about the presence of Thomas and Nieve at the front as the two Sky riders potentially threatened Leo König’s top ten position on GC. They chased hard as they took over from Astana at the head of the peloton. Therefore, the yellow jersey group was only 1.30 behind the remaining 11 leaders before the last hill of the day.
Majka in the right timing
AG2R-La Mondiale put the hammer down to reduce the gap to one minute at the bottom of the final ascent to Risoul. De Marchi rode away from the front group at the beginning of the climb. He was eventually overtaken by Rafal Majka who went solo with 9km to go. Nibali accelerated with 4km to go. Peraud followed him. They crossed the line in that order behind Majka who found glory at the Tour at the age of 24 after having finished 6th overall at the Giro d’Italia. Young riders did well as French duelists Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet regained 34 seconds in the last three kilometers over Alejandro Valverde who remains in second place overall for now at the exit of the Alps.
Nibali explianed that his strategy was to distance Valverde rather than win the stage, “From the team car, I was told: ‘If you still have something in the tank, go for it'. I was looking at gaining some time over Alejandro Valverde. I heard that he cracked after I left him. Péraud stayed on my wheel and then sprinted! That's cycling I suppose… In any case, Majka deserves his victory. He's going well. Yesterday he was in the breakaway and today he claimed a beautiful win. I'm happy for him. But I can't say I let him. I don't know if I could have caught him. When I accelerated, he already had good advantage of around 50 seconds. My goal was to gain time over Valverde."