Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) saw his podium chances edge further away as he slipped to seventh in the general classification after the Cima Grappa time trial. The Polish rider put in a solid performance, finishing seventh on the day, but it wasn’t enough to match the huge performance from fellow podium contender Fabio Aru (Astana) - who stormed to second place. Majka lost more than three minutes to the Sardinian, and dropped 1:31 to Pierre Rolland (Europcar).
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider was pragmatic, but disappointed about his performance in the mountain time trial. “It was not my best day. I recognise, objectively, that it was a good stage, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to fight with the best. I feel like I was affected by the stomach problems, which certainly weren’t helping me in the time trial,” Majka said after the stage.
Majka has had an excellent Giro d’Italia up until this point. His one hiccup was the crash at Montecassino, however, he avoided losing too much time after taking a teammate’s bike, and set himself up to move into third place a couple of days later. He has been suffering with the stomach problems for a few days, but has managed to keep himself in contention for the podium. Majka started the time trial only two seconds off the third step of the rostrum, equal on time with Aru.
Saturday’s summit finish of the Monte Zoncolan is the last chance for the general classification riders to improve their position in the standings, before they ride into Trieste on Sunday. Stage 20 includes category one climb the Passo del Pura and second category Sella di Razzo, before the formidable Monte Zoncolan. It’s only the fifth time the race has visited the northern Italian mountain.
Majka’s Tinkoff-Saxo team now hope that he can shake off the issues and attack on the final day. “It’s a sad way to lose our position but that’s how it is,” said directeur sportif Lars Michaelsen. “Now, we’re facing one more stage in the mountains and I’d like to say that we’ll be attacking from the gun but if Rafa’s feeling the same way, that wouldn’t be the wisest tactics. We can only hope that he’ll recover over night and we’ll see how he’s feeling tomorrow.”