Rafal Majka’s (Tinkoff-Saxo) extraordinary summer continues, with victory in stage five of the Tour of Poland.
The Pole moves us to second overall in the general classification behind Petr Vakoc (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who, despite being dropped a kilometre from the finish line atop the Strbske Pleso, holds on to the yellow jersey by just one second.
The win comes just a matter of weeks after Majka became a household name thanks to his performance at the Tour de France, where he won two stages and the polka-dot jersey.
Despite including three ascents of the category one Strbske Pleso, no rider managed to mount a successful attack, and a large group contested the sprint for the win.
It was a slow-motion sash to the line, and Majka won largely thanks to his perfect timing. Movistar’s Ben Intxausti opened up his sprint a few hundred meters from the line, and was pursued by Gianluca Brambilla (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). But this pair tired as the line approached, allowing Majka – who had cunningly lurked in the slipstream of Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) to pass them just before crossing the line.
Before this sprint, several riders had tried to break clear from the bunch on the final climb, including Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Sky), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Robert Gesink (Belkin).
Defending champion Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) put in the best looking move with just over a kilometre left to ride, and managed to both open up a gap and force riders to be dropped from the back of the peloton. But he was caught just as Intxausti made his move to the line.
Tinkoff-Saxo was responsible for the pace setting early on in the climb, going at a steady enough speed to discourage attacks yet not thin out the bunch. Despite fading from the front towards the top, they ultimately did enough to se Majka up for the win.
Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Sebastian Lander (BMC), Yaroslav Popovych (Trek), Marco Haller (Katusha), Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Pawel Bernas (Poland) and Maciej Paterski (CCC) formed the break of the day, and were joined by a group of counter-attackers with the race on the final circuit.
Of those counter-attackers, Christian Meir (Orica-GreenEdge) attacked the group alone, and was the only survivor of the break by the summit of the penultimate ascent of the Strbske Pleso. The Canadian hung on for a while long, but was finally reeled in just as the riders began the final ascent of the climb.
Tomorrow again features several climbs, and, as the last road stage of the race, is likely to prompt the climbers into attacking.
2014 Tour of Poland, stage five
1 Rafal Majka’s (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo in 4-30-38
2 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar
3 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar
4 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5 Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Shimano all st
6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC at 0-01
7 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale at st
8 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin at 0-02
9 Andrey Amador (CRC) Movistar
10 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre all st
Overall Classification after stage five
1 Petr Vakoc (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step in 25-05-28
2 Rafal Majka’s (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0-01
3 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 0-05
4 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 0-07
5 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale at 0-11
6 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha
7 Marek Rutkiewicz (Pol) CCC
8 Peter Velits (Svk) BMC
9 Andrey Amador (CRC) Movistar
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin all st