After a disappointing 2017 season, Rafal Majka has his sights set firmly on the Tour de France next July. The two-time king of the mountains winner will kick-start his season at the Vuelta a San Juan in January and believes that Bora-Hansgrohe's recruitment in the transfer market will make an already strong squad even more competitive.
The German-registered team dipped into the market during the summer and strengthened their squad in a number of areas. Daniel Oss was signed from BMC Racing in order to supplement Peter Sagan's Classics contingent, while Peter Kennaugh and Davide Formolo have joined the stage racing element of the team.
"They are going to help us be even stronger, and with them, I think we will have all the elements we need to have a great year," Majka told the organisers of the Vuelta a San Juan.
The Argentine race starts on January 21 and provides warm-weather racing for the European pros that opt not to travel to the Tour Down Under in Australia. The mountain stages in San Juan also offer tougher terrain than the sprint-friendly stages in Australia.
Majka, who was third overall at the Vuelta in 2015 and has won stages of the Tour de France, will not be targeting the overall classification in Argentina but will use the race as a training exercise. That said, he will exploit opportunities should they come his way.
"The Vuelta a San Juan is a good opportunity to escape the cold European winter and enjoy the warm climate in Argentina. It's wonderful to race in the heat while in Poland, my native country, it's all snowy and the temperatures are below freezing," he said.
"It's too soon to be in top form, although that doesn't mean that I won't be giving it my all, since I am a professional athlete who always gives it everything I can. Yes, of course, achieving a triumph will obviously be a welcome event, but it is not my main goal, even though I have to admit that the race has a very interesting route and excellent participation."
Majka came into the Tour de France in 2017 targeting the top-five. However, a crash took him out of the race alongside Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). Illness robbed him of the chance to show his best form at the Vuelta a España later in the year but the Olympic bronze medalist is looking to put all that in the past.
"It's true that I had some bad luck in the Tour, what with the fall and all, but also in the Vuelta I had to contend with intestinal issues. However, these problems are all part of the sport," he said.
"My personal philosophy is to do your best, so that once you've crossed that finish line you feel satisfied. This is why, in spite of the problems I've had to face, I feel satisfied to have won the Pandera stage in the Vuelta and to have come second overall at the Tour of California and the Tour de Pologne."