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Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) rides to a stage 14 win in the mountains.
Set to close out season with USA Pro Challenge
Rafal Majka will not be driving an Aston Martin in the near future. The car was reported to be a special present from his boss Oleg Tinkov if the Polish rider could capture two stage wins in the last Tour de France. He duly delivered with wins in Risoul and Saint-Lary/Pla d'Adet and he captured the polka-dot jersey in the process.
"To be honest, the Aston Martin was a joke. My teammate mentioned it one day inside the bus and this is where the rumour started," Majka told Cyclingnews on the eve of the Tour of Poland.
The Tinkoff-Saxo climber was perhaps disappointed he didn't really win James Bond's car but he can hide his feelings. Above all, he knows the 2014 Tour de France gave him many benefits. "I gained a lot of experience for the future, especially mentally," he said, as his managers are already considering to make him as a leader for next year's Giro d'Italia.
Majka's successful Grande Boucle brought him various advantages. Did he improve his salary? Straight answer: "Not yet". What about his fame? "It's rising". Did the race leave him exhausted after he competed in the Giro and the Tour? "I don't feel tired," he said.
"It was certainly difficult to train for the Tour of Poland due to the number of media requests, but I have tried to save my energy in the past few days. I only raced two criteriums in Belgium and the Netherlands, then I went to Warsaw for the Tour of Poland's press conference."
It means the Tour de France's King of Mountains winner didn't stop to visit his family in the southern part of the country, near Krakow, and drove through the capital instead, where he spent three quiet days with his physiotherapist, in Gdansk.
"This is true, I had a lot of requests, including from organisations who care about disabled children or orphans, but it doesn't bother me, I am always glad to help them," Majka says.
The public also stops the new star in the street for autographs. Half of the people are enthusiastic because this 24-year-old athlete could perform on the top level and took the first Polish success in the Tour de France since Zenon Jaskula in 1993, while the other half don't understand why media and fans praise a rider who finished "only" 44th in GC – but these people follow the growing enthusiasm for the rider.
To make his supporters happy, Majka wants to win the Tour of Poland. He insists: "I am not here just to race, but to win". He knows he must gain as much time as possible on the queen stage to Strbské Pleso (Slovakia) next Thursday, prior to the final time trial in Krakow. But his motivation seems indestructible – as his legs have been, since February.
The Tour of Poland will be his penultimate race in 2014. Majka has only taken part in six events this year as his team tries to protect him and favour his recovery: Volta ao Algarve (20th overall ), Paris-Nice (31st), Criétrium International (4th), Tour de Romandie (13th), Giro d'Italia (6th) and Tour de France.
Cyclingnews understands Majka will wrap up his season at the USA Pro Challenge Tour of Colorado (18-24 August), even if he doesn't want to confirm the news.
From September, "Majka the Bee" - his nickname in Poland – will finally enjoy a long period of vacation, with a bunch of criteriums, and travel with his girlfriend, before he will celebrate his wedding in October. Then, and only then, it will be time to design his 2015 schedule and new hopes.