With Peter Sagan out of the Tour de France, Rafa Majka has become outright plan a for Bora-Hansgrohe. The summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles was the first climbing test for the three-time Tour stage winner with Majka rolling over the line in 11th place.
The 27-year-old conceded time to time his overall rivals but has climbed into the top-ten, explaining he was glad to have the first climbing day done.
"I felt good when I got into a rhythm, but I didn't have the punchiness to stay with the GC contenders when they started attacking. I think my legs will become better throughout this Tour," said Majka who won the Tour of Slovenia on the eve of the race. "There are stages still to come that will suit my climbing style better, so all in all we're in a good place and are going to aim to improve in the other mountain stages now."
A stage winner in his first two Tour's, Majka missed a third win last year as he rode to 27th place, but his consistent riding saw him seal te king of the mountains classification. In 2017, Majka is targeting the top-five overall having previosuly finished third at the Vuelta a Espana and fifth at the Giro d'Italia.
Bora-Hansgrohe's white jersey contender and domestique for Majka in the mountains, Emanuel Buchmann, finished the day in 24th place to drop one place in the general classification. The German explained he struggled in the heat but it also looking ahead to the climbing in the second and third weeks.
"I struggled a little with the heat today. It was the first really hot day and it was also the first mountain finish, so it was a good test of my form. I didn't feel as good as I did at the Dauphiné, but I think this was just a bad day for me," Buchmann said. "The stage didn't really suit my style, so we're going to wait for the weekend and see if I feel better then. My objective is still to try something, so we'll wait and see what opportunities come up."
For the team's sports director Enrico Poitschke, the first day of racing without Sagan proved difficult but he was content to have limited the losses.
"We expected a difficult day, because it was the first hard test and also the first hot day. We didn't lose too much time, so we are OK, and more or less the day was as we expected. Rafa is still in a good position for the GC," Poitschke said.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.