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Tour de France: Majka victorious on Pla d'Adet

Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) won his second stage of the Tour de France, soloing in to victory atop the Pla d’Adet. After having duelled for mountain points all day, he secured the polka dot jersey for himself by finishing 28 seconds ahead of Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) with the race leader Vicenzo Nibali (Astana) third.

It was the second stage win for Majka and the second in a row for the Russian team. Tinkoff-Saxo had come to the race to win the overall with Alberto Contador, and admitted that they had no real plan B when the Spaniard had to abandon. But they have now won three of the last four stages, with Michael Rogers winning the 16th stage.

"I'm just so happy about this result and these results that we have accomplished in the last couple of days and today, me teammates really worked hard for me and especially Nico (Roche) was digging hard to set me up on the final climb," Majka said

With double points on the summit finish, Majka came one step closer an overall victory in the mountains classification. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) had diligently gathered points ahead of his rival all along the way, but was unable to match Majka's final kick at the end.

"I didn't go for the first GPM with Rodriguez because Bjarne [Riis] told me wait, wait Rafal, we need to win the stage. When we win the stage, we have the jersey. I won the stage and now I have the jersey."

The stage was a heated competition not only for the stage win and mountains classification, but for the podium placings behind Nibali, and the best young rider competition.

Nibali had no problems, but Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) had to fight to maintain his second place in the general classification as three Frenchman - Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Jean-Christophe Peraud and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), fought to overtake him.

Peraud responded to an attack by Nibali when Valverde was swinging, and succeeded in closing in on the Spaniard. After beginning the stage 1:31 behind Valverde, he ended the day just 42 seconds in arrears. He gained time on Pinot and Bardet, but more importantly, he is the top time trialist of the trio and stands a strong chance of moving onto the final podium.

Bardet tried to distance Pinot on the descent from the Col du Val Louron-Azet, but was unable to hold his advantage on the final climb, and the two ended the day on the same time, five seconds behind Valverde.

How it unfolded

Stage 17 could have been called "short but not sweet". Only 124.5km long it featured four climbs, three category one followed by a mountaintop finish atop the Hors Categorie Pla d'Adet.

The attacks started as soon as the flag was dropped, and Cyril Gauthier (Europcar), Tom Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), Martin Elmiger (IAM), Yukio Arashiro (Europcar), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Biel Kadri (AG2R La Mondiale), Jens Voigt (Trek) and Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff-Saxo) were the lucky ones to win the breakaway war.

With all those climbs and mountain points to be had, Katusha didn’t want to let the group go. Joaquim Rodriguez was still one point back in the mountains ranking, and was eager to take the take the title home with him.

That meant that the red-clad Russian team moved to the front of the field and led the high-speed chase, with the group never getting more than about a minute away.

The first climb, the Col du Portillon, came at kilometer 57.5, the 8.3km climb averages 7.1%, and proved to be a launching pad for the mountains classification contenders, including Rodriguez, as Astana controlled the peloton.

The Rodriguez group soon caught the lead group, which was falling apart anyway on the climb as the peloton was only 14 seconds or so behind. Also amongst the new 21 rider escape was Majka, who had a slim one-point lead in the mountain ranking over Rodriguez, and soon the two were toying with one another at the head of the race.

The Tinkoff-Saxo rider dropped off though, called off by team manager Bjarne Riis, and a new lead group of Rodriguez, Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre), David Lopez (Sky) and Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) formed. A large group was between them and the Nibali group, which had already dropped a large number of riders, at about one minute back.

With 200 meters to the first mountain ranking, Rodriguez attacked to win the 10 points, virtually taking back the polka-dot jersey.

There was a curious incident after the field arrived at the top. A Movistar soigneur reached out to hand a bottle to one of his riders, and came in contact with Orica-GreenEdge’s Luke Durbridge, knocking the Australian down. The rider gives him a good shove, but the soigneur helped him back on the back and gave Durbridge a more gentle shove to get on his way again.

The large chasing group caught the leaders on the descent, forming an even larger group of Pierre Rolland, Cyril Gautier and Yukio Arashiro (Europcar), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lott-Belisol), Frank Schleck (Trek), Peter Velits and Amaël Moinard (BMC), Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Jon Izagirre, Jesus Herrada and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), David Lopez Garcia and Vasil Kiryienka (Sky), Biel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Rafal Majka and Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), and Alessandro de Marchi (Cannondale).

Just as the hit the bottom of the descent and were ready to head up the next climb, Kiryienka jumped from the group. The Nibali group was now 1:42 back.

Kiryienka started solo up the day’s second climb, the category one Col de Peyresourde, a 13.2km climb with an average gradient of 7%. He soon had 1:30 over his nearest chasers, and 2:58 on the Nibali group.

Roche and Herrada set out to catch Kiryienka, as Mollema attacked the rest of the breakaway in pursuit.

Kiryienka slowly pulled away, gaining just over two minutes on the chasers, with the Astana-led peloton letting all the non-dangerous riders go, over four minutes behind.

Rodriguez, with Majka on his rear wheel, led the chase group across the top of the Peyresourde at 1:48, while the peloton finally arrived 5:25 later.

The chasers caught Roche and Herrada ahead of the next climb, another category 1, the Col du Val Louron-Azet, It was the shortest of the stage’s climbs, at 7.4km and 8.3% gradient.

The gaps started slowing falling on this penultimate climb, and in fact, the chasers caught Kiryienka before the summit. Rodriguez of course jumped as the mountain ranking loomed, and although Majka went with him, the Spaniard had his wheel forward on the line, but the 10 points he gained were miniscule in comparison to the 50 on offer atop the Pla d'Adet.

The Nibali group had by then shrunk to about 10 riders and this smaller group was able to cut the gap to 2.41. Bardet jumped on the descent, hoping to gain time on the two Frenchmen who were ahead of him in the GC, and blocking him from the podium. He put in a strong effort, quickly putting in 30 seconds on the group.

Attacks on the final climb

They all still had to face the dreaded finale, the Hors Categorie Monte de Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet, 10.2km long and averaging 8.3%. As they started the climb, Rolland, Roche, Visconti and Moinard had pulled about 15 seconds ahead, with the Nibali group only about two minutes back.

Visconti was the first to seriously attack out of the group. Roche followed eventually, while Rolland and Moinard could only watch. The Italian jumped again, catching Roche flat-footed and unable to match the move.

Much of the climb was lined with fans, cheering on all the riders. Majka jumped on the climb, but couldn't dump Rodriguez, much to his disgust.

He made another move and was easily getting away, when he slung off from a motorcycle – in full view of the TV camera. Rodriguez immediately protested to the race jury car.

The Tinkoff-Saxo rider was so successful that he soon caught and passed Bardet and moved up to the first chase group, joining Roche, Rolland and Moinard. But he soon attacked out of that group too, as the Nibali group also exploded. Peraud jumped to try and protect his placing, and while Nibali easily went with him, Valverde unable to follow.

The Spaniard dropped further and further back, as Peraud moved forward and reached for the second place, but Movistar rallied around its captain, sending Izagirre and Herrada back to come to his aid.

Nibali looked around, and, noticing the absence of his rivals, attacked with a bit more than 5km to go. Peraud covered the attack, but Nibali jumped again. Rodriguez was soon caught, and up front, Majka caught Visconti with 4.2km to go.

Peraud finally caught and stayed with the yellow jersey, and the pair caught and passed Bardet, leaving him with Van Garderen and Pinot behind.

With 3km to go, Nibali jumped again, and 500 metres ahead, Majka kicked up the tempo and finally dropped Visconti, then proceeded, with a wink at the camera, to solo in for the victory.

Nibali moved up through the remaining riders up front, and came across the line third, 46 seconds down.

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo3:35:23
2Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team0:00:29
3Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:46
4Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale0:00:49
6Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar0:00:52
7Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing0:01:12
8Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
9Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo0:01:25
10Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team0:01:35
11Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr0:01:40
12Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
13Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
14Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling0:01:50
15Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team
16Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Team Sky0:02:01
17Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre - Merida0:02:05
18Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Trek Factory Racing0:02:34
19Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol0:02:52
20Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team0:03:02
21Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team0:03:39
22John Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team0:03:54
23Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Netapp-Endura
24Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
25Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling0:04:54
26Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team0:05:02
27Peter Velits (Svk) BMC Racing Team0:05:25
28Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling0:05:40
29Christopher Horner (USA) Lampre - Merida
30Yury Trofimov (Rus) Team Katusha
31Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha0:05:54
32Brice Feillu (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement0:06:12
33Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:06:36
34Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling0:07:38
35Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
36Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr0:08:06
37Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar0:09:27
38Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
39Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - Sharp0:14:07
40Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin - Sharp0:14:17
41Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
42Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo
43Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
44Peter Stetina (USA) BMC Racing Team
45Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling
46Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Team Europcar
47Benjamin King (USA) Garmin - Sharp
48Jan Barta (Cze) Team Netapp-Endura
49Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
50Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
51Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
52Nelson Oliveira (Por) Lampre - Merida
53Paul Voss (Ger) Team Netapp-Endura
54Tiago Machado (Por) Team Netapp-Endura
55Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ.fr
56Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing
57Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
58Rein Taaramäe (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
59David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky
60Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar
61Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team Netapp-Endura
62José Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team0:16:08
63Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:16:49
64Cedric Pineau (Fra) FDJ.fr
65Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo
66Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ.fr
67Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar
68Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
69Markel Irizar Arranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing
70Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Belisol
71Florian Guillou (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
72Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team
73Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
74José Serpa (Col) Lampre - Merida
75Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:17:00
76Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky0:17:06
77Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:19:37
78Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
79Christian Meier (Can) Orica Greenedge
80Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
81Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
82Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:22:26
83Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:22:52
84Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
85Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:23:32
86Jens Voigt (Ger) Trek Factory Racing
87Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
88Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky
89Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
90Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica Greenedge
91Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale
92Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale
93Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
94Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
95Gregory Rast (Swi) Trek Factory Racing
96Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
97Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
98Lars Bak (Den) Lotto-Belisol
99Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team Netapp-Endura
100Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge
101Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica Greenedge
102Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
103Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar
104Maarten Wynants (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling
105Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team
106Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling
107Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo
108Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica Greenedge
109Thomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
110Jérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling
111Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale
112John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano
113Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo0:23:40
114Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
115Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale0:23:42
116Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Cannondale0:23:52
117Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar0:24:01
118Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano0:24:14
119Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar
120Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto-Belisol0:24:51
121Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling
122Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Team Netapp-Endura
123Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:25:33
124Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team0:25:43
125Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
126Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:25:59
127Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
128Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
129José Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team Netapp-Endura
130Danny Pate (USA) Team Sky
131Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale0:26:16
132Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin - Sharp0:26:50
133Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre - Merida
134Svein Tuft (Can) Orica Greenedge0:27:46
135André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
136Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin - Sharp
137Mickaël Delage (Fra) FDJ.fr
138Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto-Belisol
139Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
140Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
141Benoit Jarrier (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
142Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
143Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team
144Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Team Katusha
145Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin - Sharp
146Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
147Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
148Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
149Jean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
150Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr
151Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Team Katusha
152Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
153Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Garmin - Sharp
154Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
155Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
156Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha
157William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ.fr
158Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
159Cheng Ji (Chn) Team Giant-Shimano
160Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
161Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:27:54
162Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto-Belisol0:27:56
163Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
164Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
165Tom Veelers (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano0:28:55
166Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano0:28:56
DNSReto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling
DNSSimon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge
DNFSimon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha

Sprint 1 - Saint-Béat, 31km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale20pts
2Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling17
3Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo15
4Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin - Sharp13
5Jens Voigt (Ger) Trek Factory Racing11
6Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar10
7Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar9
8Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits8
9Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar7
10Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale6
11Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar5
12Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Team Katusha4
13Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Team Katusha3
14Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha2
15Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team1

Sprint 2 - Saint-Lary Pla d'Adet, 124.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo20pts
2Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team17
3Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team15
4Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale13
5Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale11
6Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar10
7Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing9
8Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling8
9Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo7
10Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team6
11Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr5
12Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale4
13Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team3
14Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling2
15Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team1

Mountain 1 - Col du Portillon, 57.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha10pts
2Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo8
3Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre - Merida6
4Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale4
5Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling2
6Rein Taaramäe (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits1

Mountain 2 - Col de Peyresourde, 82km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky10pts
2Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo8
3Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team6
4Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha4
5Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo2
6Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team1

Mountain 3 - Col de Val Louron-Azet, 102.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha10pts
2Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo8
3Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team6
4Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling4
5Peter Velits (Svk) BMC Racing Team2
6Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team1

Mountain 4 - Montée de Saint-Lary Pla d'Adet, 124.5km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo50pts
2Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team40
3Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team32
4Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale28
5Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale24
6Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar20
7Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing16
8Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling12
9Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo8
10Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team4

Most combative rider
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Young riders
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo3:35:23
2Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr0:01:40
3Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
4Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team0:01:50
5Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team0:03:39
6Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling0:14:17
7Benjamin King (USA) Garmin - Sharp
8Nelson Oliveira (Por) Lampre - Merida
9Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:16:49
10Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
11Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
12Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica Greenedge0:23:32
13John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano
14Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale0:23:42
15Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar0:24:14