From eighth to 137th to DNS: Rafal Majka's results over three days in the Tour de France speak – grimly – for themselves. A top result in the Station des Rousses stage in the Jura was followed by a series of major crashes that left him injured and all but out for the count, nearly 40 minutes down, on the road to Chambery, and then, definitively, out of the race.
However, three weeks further on, the Bora-Hansgrohe rider is back in action, this time on home soil in the Tour de Pologne. Majka won here in 2014, clinching a stage victory on an incursion to Slovakia in a small group sprint, and then alone in Bukowina Tartranska, 10 seconds clear of former Movistar duo Beñat Intxausti and Ion Izagirre, to oust Petr Vakoc (Quick Step Floors) from the lead.
In 2014, Pologne proved to be a fine epilogue for Majka in what was his best ever Tour to date, with two stage wins and the overall in the King of the Mountains. This time around, he is aiming for it to kick-start his second half of the season, with the Vuelta a España - in which he took third in 2015 - his most likely target for the remainder of the year.
"For sure the Tour of Pologne is a good course for me, it goes close to my home and it's a really tough one this year," Majka said on Friday. "But there's a lot of big-name riders here, it's a very good lineup, and I'll need to see how I feel.
"We have two other riders here, Patrick Konrad [seventh in Pais Vasco this year] and [Austrian RR champion] Gregor Muhlberger and for sure they will be going for GC and I need to see how I feel, otherwise I will help these guys.
"For sure Peter [Sagan] will try also because Peter ... well," he said with a grin. "We know what Peter is like, and we know how fast he is in the short uphill finishes. I'm not in such bad shape and I need to try to fight in the Tour de Pologne. We've got a lot of cards to play."
This week, Majka said, he has managed to up his game considerably at least in terms of training, with four to five-hour training rides. "So it's getting better and better. And also my recovery is improving, I'm working with my physio and my team has helped me a lot."
Although he has yet to decide what his goals will be in the Vuelta, he expects to be in Nimes on August 19th for Spain's Grand Tour. "But I won't be racing between now and the Vuelta, just rest. After the crash, it's not so easy, but I know the good condition is coming. Maybe not 100 percent, but by the end of the week I'll be better."
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