Forced to abandon the Tour de France in July with numerous injuries, Rafa Majka was targeting redemption at the Vuelta a España. After the explosive finale to stage 3 into Andorra la Valle, the Bora-Hansgrohe leader finds himself on the backfoot after shipping 2:35 minutes to his main GC rivals.
Majka crossed the line after the 158.5 kilometre day in the saddle in 38th place, dropping nine places overall to 29th. There is still 18 stages for Majka to make up time and attempt to match his third overall in 2015 as the 27-year-old hopes stage 3 is sole bad day of the race.
“I had a really bad day today. I felt it from the beginning and already suffered on the first climb. It was a hard day for me, but I kept on fighting because it is still a long way to go to Madrid and most of the favorites will suffer one bad day in this race," Majka said.
While the Pole was bullish when speaking of his aims, he also conceded he is not in the ideal position to mount a challenge for the podium as he explained realistically.
"Still, we lost precious time today and it will be hard to come back from this deficit we are already facing now," he added.
Bora-Hansgrohe's sports director Steffen Radochla explained the team was committed to Majka on the stage and hadn't anticipated the outcome. Although Radochla was quick to praise the qualities of Majka and is likewise looking forwards rather than dwelling on the time loss.
"Well, in the end the race turned out to be different from what we expected. We had to put in all our efforts to support Rafal, who suffered a lot," Radochla said. "But he proved to be a real leader and kept on fighting until the end. We have to analyze the situation before we can work on a plan for the next days, but for sure this is a big fallback to our goals for this Vuelta."
Emanuel Buchmann, the team's second GC option, also had an off day and was a further eight seconds behind Majka but jumps up the overall classification from 121 to 37th.
With no out and out sprinter in the Vuelta squad, Bora has several riders capable of challenging for stage wins on a parcours suited to the climbers. Having already lost Michael Kolar from the race, the team could well shift its priorities to adding to its Giro d'Italia and Tour de France stage wins in 2017.