The 2017 Vuelta a Espana went from bad to worse on stage 4 of the Spanish Grand Tour for Rafal Majka. The Bora-Hansgrohe captain shipped over two minutes to his GC rivals on stage 3 and conceded a further 3:45 minutes on the flat sprinters stage to Tarragona.
Majka's 156th place saw the Pole drop from 29th to 43rd place overall as he struggled to hold the pace inside the final kilometres of the stage. Acknowledging his bid for the GC and repeat of his 2015 podium is out the window, Majka explained he believes he can still salvage something from the race once he recovers from his illness.
"Already yesterday I suffered from bad stomach problems. Today again I couldn't eat during the stage," said Majka. "I have no energy in my legs and every single kilometer is painful. We hope it will get better soon, but first I have to survive tomorrow, which will be tough. Then we will see how I can recover. The GC is done for me, but the Vuelta is not over yet."
The Vuelta is the second grand Tour disappointment of the season for Majka after he was forced to abandon the Tour de France with multiple injuries. Having bounced back from the Tour disappointment with second place overall at his home Tour de Pologne, Bora sports director Steffen Radochla explained Majka was ready for the Vuelta challenge. However, a virus going through the team that already ended the race for Michael Kolář was an unexpected hurdle.
"It's a pity. Rafal was prepared really well for this Vuelta, but he is suffering the same stomach problems as Michael Kolar did, and as well Pawel does. It seems to be some virus," Radochla said. "There is not a lot we can do but give them the best medical support and wait. Michael is already feeling better at home, so we hope Rafal and Pawel can fight through this. But we know how hard it is to come through such problems during a grand tour and how painful it is for them out in the saddle. We all have great respect for that and support them as good as we can as a team."
With no chance of making a mark on the general classification, Bora and Majka will be aiming to salvage the race with stage wins and possibly the king of the mountains jersey. A classification that Majka has twice won at the Tour de France.