Stage 11 of the Tour de France finished with a commanding solo victory for Tinkoff-Saxo's Rafal Majka in Cauterets. The Polish climber attacked from a breakaway on the slopes of the Col du Tourmalet and then climbed the final ascent to the finish line on his own, one minute ahead of runner-up Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and 1:23 ahead of third placed Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18).
Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished the day in ninth place and maintained his lead in the overall classification by 2:52 ahead of Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), stage 11 winner in Cauterets
"I didn’t choose this stage but I knew that it was really hard and… it’s the Tourmalet, it's not an easy stage. I like this weather, it’s warm. Today I had the support from my teammates to be in the breakaway and I’m so happy.
"This victory is for my teammates, for Ivan Basso, who is now at home, and Daniele Bennati, who crashed today. And also for my family, who stay close to me, and my wife, who is gives me a lot of power.
"The Tour de France is not finished but I have not come here for the GC. I came here to help Alberto [Contador] and still we had some opportunities. It is still a really long Tour de France, a long two weeks left, and we need to fight for Alberto Contador to win the Tour de France, 100 per cent."
"I'm really happy with the third place but I am also completely tired. It was a super hard stage – throughout most of the day in the attack. It’s just awesome that it all led to the third place for me. I just rode my own rhythm and it went really good. Today, we all had the freedom to ride for ourselves and we all were trying to jump into the group. After a long fight, I then made it. I am very happy and the result is even better."
"I was feeling really good. Yesterday I had really good legs. Today in the beginning we had Edvald [Boasson Hagen] in the breakaway with four guys, Cannondale chased really hard behind them so we knew that those four guys wouldn’t stay away. The race started again, and again and I think I chose the right moment to be in the breakaway.
"We were all strong riders also. It was still another race to try and get to the finish but I think that the best rider was at the front, Majka. I was feeling really good and I climbed well on the Tourmalet and I chose to do my own rhythm and not to wait for Daniel Martin and Bauchmann the German champ, and in the final I was getting empty and they passed me but it was my choice to try and go for the victory and not to ride for second place."
"It was a really hard start, it was an hour and 40 minutes of on the rivet. Fortunately, with the boys, we rode well as a unit and stuck together. Managed to get a good break and then just settled down and tried to recover as much as possible, wait for the Tourmalet and a possible attack from a team, and that is exactly what happened with Astana. That was solid, that pace, that was hard. There weren't very many guys left but me and Richie [Porte] managed to stay in there and took Froomie all the way to the line."
"It was a tough stage, very hot conditions out there. The pace was relatively calm from the start until we started the Tourmalet. Astana picked the pace up and really busted it up and then it was racing all the way to the finish.
"It almost seems as if everyone was a bit scared of tomorrow’s tremendous stage. Everyone is holding back a little bit and keeping things in reserve for tomorrow and the day’s coming.
"If you analyse yesterday’s stage, Chris had a particularly good stage and even Quintana, he didn’t have a great day or a bad day, he had an ordinary day. The rest were really struggling out there so it was interesting to see today that nobody really went out there and grabbed the race by the horns, but I’m expecting it to really happen tomorrow."
"With the Col d’Aspin and the Tourmalet, they were two really hard climbs and the last climb was not so hard, we did it in training so I knew where to go. I just attacked and thought that a few riders would follow me but in the end I was alone. In the last three kilometres it was really hard but full gas to the finish.
"I think I’m just in top 10 now but it’s still a long way to Paris. We just have to look at it day by day and I hope to finish minimum top 10 but hopefully I can do a little bit better."
"I know this climb but because of the crash from yesterday I had no force. I tried to continue to fight and it paid off because I came back on the descent. I knew all the climb and the descent, I knew at the top that I could push more and on the descent I knew where I had to break full. I am really happy.
"I broke my helmet yesterday and my head was really painful last night and it was really painful today on the bike but I was only thinking about racing."