Rafal Majka shows world class on first big Giro mountain stage
Team Saxo-Tinkoff Italian, Daniele Bennati was in the long-lasting breakaway on today’s 167 kilometer long 10th stage of the Giro d’Italia from Cordenons to the first category uphill finish in Altopiano del Montasio by the Italian/Slovenian border. But it was teammate, Rafal Majka stealing the picture at the end of the stage.
A lot of riders were eager to get away which increased the pace and within the first hour of racing, the peloton did 49.5 kilometers but the escapees created the gap, the peloton removed the foot from the gas pedal. Astana took charge of the pace in the pack and with 65 kilometers to go, they picked up the pace again.
Entering the climb, Team Sky took over the throttle and soon, riders were tailed off in clutches behind the decreasing field. At the same time, the front group started shattering on the steep mountainside and suddenly, Jackson Rodriguez (Androni) was alone in the front of the race. When the Italian national champion, Franco Pellizotti (Androni) launched an attack from the field, the defending Giro champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) was dropped and seemed like a guy unable to get back up. Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s Rafal Majka was able to hang on to the group of favorites to the top of the climb.
On the descent, Astana tried to put the wrench on Sky by barreling downhill in high pace but without hurting anyone. Several dropped riders bridged the gap to the group of favorites before the uphill finish. From the foot of the climb, Team Sky picked up the pace putting the hammer down and immediately, riders were tailed off the back of the bunch.
With 9 kilometers to the top, the last standing escapees were brought back and the stage could start again. Team Sky played out Rigoberto Uran Uran while Astana was left chasing in the group of favorites where Saxo-Tinkoff’s Rafal Majka was sitting comfortably on the wheel of Nibali. And with 3.6 kilometers to go, the young Saxo-Tinkoff rider launched a solid attack and instantly, big riders like Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre) were dropped.
On the final more flat section towards the finish line, Cadel Evans (BMC) put pressure on but Rigoberto Uran Uran won the stage superbly while Saxo-Tinkoff’s Rafal Majka fought bravely behind with the biggest favorites and finished sixth. He is now 10th overall:
“Rafal did such a great stage where he got a firm grip on the biggest favorites in the race and even had the energy to launch an attack. When he sees that they wouldn’t let him go, he stopped and sensibly he fell to the back of the group. Now, we have to see what tomorrow’s stage will offer and it’s probably gonna be another tough mountain stage with an uphill finish. I hope he can maintain his position from now on but we have to remember that he is a very young rider and the race is still long and hard but we are very happy with what we have seen today,” said Saxo-Tinkoff’s Dan Frost.
Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s Rafal Majka now leads the youth classification:
”I’ve been feeling strong through the race so far with the exception of the day before the rest day where I was suffering from headaches. It’s a fantastic feeling being able to compete with the best climbers in the world in this demanding terrain and I have a feeling that my condition is still improving. But it’s hard to predict how the body reacts in the days to come. It’s a long and very tough race and I’m gonna take one stage at a time,” said the 23-year-old Saxo-Tinkoff rider.