Friday, December 26, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Majka earns Pole position on Tour’s 14th stage

APTOPIX Cycling Tour de France

Poland's Rafal Majka crosses the finish line to win the fourteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 177 kilometers (110 miles) with start in Grenoble and finish in Risoul, France, Saturday, July 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

By
From page B1 | July 20, 2014 |

RISOUL, France — Panting hard with his jersey unzipped and wide open in the heat, Polish rider Rafal Majka sped to a solo breakaway victory on Stage 14 as the Tour de France wrapped up its foray in the Alps on Saturday.

The two stages were expected to shake up the standings, but Vincenzo Nibali was not only still wearing the yellow jersey, he was farther out front.

In a flip of their finishes a day earlier in the race’s entree to the Alps when Nibali won, the Pole and the Italian crossed one-two after the 177-kilometer (110-mile) ride over the 2,360-meter (7,742-foot) Izoard pass — the race’s highest point — and a final ascent up to Risoul ski station.

Majka’s victory was the first on this Tour by his Tinkoff-Saxo Bank team, which lost main leader Alberto Contador when he crashed out injured on Stage 10.

Majka was not a threat to Nibali: He began the day 97 minutes behind the race leader, who has carried out a methodical, chipping-away strategy against his biggest challengers for the yellow jersey.

“I am really very happy,” Majka, who was sixth in the Giro d’Italia this year, said of his first professional victory after chucking his stage winner’s bouquet to the crowd. He became only the second Polish rider to win a Tour stage, after Zenon Jaskula in 1993. “I am a little tired, but … I had a calm first week to help Alberto. It broke my heart to see him leave.”

Team owner Oleg Tinkov, a Russian businessman, choked up, wiped his nose, and put on sunglasses.

“We lost Alberto, we had to win,” he said through a translator on French TV. “Rafal is a marvelous young rider. We will come back to try to win the Tour one day.”

Majka said he did not believe speculation that Tinkoff-Saxo Bank selected him among its nine Tour riders only after the team suspended Czech rider Roman Kreuziger. Just days before announcing its Tour roster last month, the team suspended Kreuziger from competing any more this year because of anomalies in his biological passport, which cycling officials use to fight doping. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Majka, who said he was tired after the strong Giro performance, said he was given assurances by team managers that “you’ll do the Tour, but you’ll take it easy in the first week,” he said. “It’s also wrong to think that I’m doing the Tour because Roman Kreuziger isn’t. Had he been able to start, we would have both been part of the team.”

Victor Petri, a team spokesman, confirmed Majka was in contention for a roster spot before the Kreuziger case.

The Pole was out front early in the stage, joining a 17-rider breakaway behind Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez, the Tour’s best climber. They cleared the first big climb, the Lauteret pass, with about a five-minute lead. By the top of the Izoard, they had thinned to 10. As the groupetto splintered on the last climb, and Nibali and the peloton closed in, Majka covered the last eight kilometers alone.

The stage didn’t shake up the top five standings, but the day’s biggest loser was Alejandro Valverde of Spain: The Movistar team leader held on to his second place but lost a minute to Nibali and saw his gap over third-place Romain Bardet of France slip to 13 seconds. Overall, Nibali leads Valverde by 4:37 and Bardet by 4:50. American Tejay van Garderen was fifth, 5:49 back.

Nibali’s strong performance makes the Tour from here to the finish in eight days in Paris looking more and more like a race for podium spots below him.

Giuseppe Martinelli, a manager with Nibali’s Astana team and an Italian cycling veteran, said Nibali’s “big engine” was making the difference: “It’s what makes the difference between a very strong rider and a regular rider.”

“Preparation, team strategy, that’s all good. But it’s the engine that makes the difference in times like this,” Martinelli added.

Nibai crossed 24 seconds behind Majka, followed by Jean-Christophe Peraud in third, two seconds slower. Bardet and fellow French rider Thibaut Pinot conducted a two-man sprint and crossed another 24 seconds back. Van Garderen was fifth, 54 seconds behind.

“From the team car, I was told: ‘If you still have something in the tank, go for it,'” Nibali said. “I was looking at gaining some time over Alejandro Valverde. I heard that he cracked after I left him.”

Valverde, speaking from a team car, said “I didn’t crack!” and explained that his trouble stemmed mainly from bad coordination with Pinot on the final climb and taking leadership of their bunch. As for the overall title chase, Valverde said: “Nibali is the strongest, but we others are neck and neck.”

Nibali addressed speculation that he might have known Michele Ferrari, an Italian doctor who was banned by the Italian Cycling Federation in 2002 and by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency two years ago for serving as a doping consultant on Lance Armstrong’s winning teams.

“I’ve never met him personally. I’ve been accused in the past to have worked with him,” said Nibali, referring to allegations that there were photographs of him together with Ferrari. “Those pictures simply didn’t exist.”

Sunday’s stage offers some relief after the Alps: Stage 15 is a flat 222 kilometers (138 miles) from Tallard to Nimes, before riders take the second rest day.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Solano’s 2014 art scene: A year in review

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
    Get your blues on – for a musical cause

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

    Area churches bring joy, toys to children

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Rear ends, reunions define 2014 in music

    By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

    Santa spreads Christmas cheer at Bridge to Life

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Word of Mouth ready to ring in 2015 at Dimitri’s

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

    A look back at 2014 Back in the Day columns

    By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

     
    ‘America’s Got Talent’ auditions Feb. 7 in Bay Area

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

     
    Suisun City police log: Dec. 24, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    Fairfield police log: Dec. 24, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Weather for Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

    .

    US / World

    San Francisco creates court only for veterans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Mother uses grief to help murder victims’ families

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    California plane crash victims were father and son

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Man shot with stun gun dies at border crossing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    California officials issue caramel apple warning

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Christmas brings California cooler weather, gusty winds

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Audit highlights state employee wrongdoing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    US traveler released from East Timor jail

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Obama personal chef to hang up apron after 6 years

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    More protests sparked after shooting near Ferguson

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Nevada goats help eat, recycle Christmas trees

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Hundreds of theaters begin screening ‘The Interview’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Streaming release of ‘Interview’ test for industry

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Monkey gives first aid to electrocuted friend

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Militants attack AU Somalia base, at least 5 dead

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Saudi women drivers referred to terrorism court

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Police and fire officials save California family’s Christmas

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Opinion

     
    Top 10 anger-inducing people of 2014

    By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

    Vermont’s lessons for fans of single-payer system

    By Megan Mcardle | From Page: A11

     
    Need to support police officers

    By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 4 Comments

    .

    Living

    Today in History: Dec. 26, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community calendar: Dec. 26, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Dec. 26, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    Sister’s angry outbursts may be a medical issue

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    Week in Preview Dec. 26, 2014 – Jan. 1, 2015

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: B1

     
    ‘Frozen’ is named top entertainer of the year by AP

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Entertainment calendar Dec. 26, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

    Warsaw’s lost architecture portrayed in miniature

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Review: ‘Unbroken’ is beautiful, but impersonal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Angelina Jolie’s latest incarnation: filmmaker

    By Maureen Fissolo | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

    .

    Sports

    James hears plenty of cheers in return to Miami

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

     
    2014 sports quirks: In year of odd bounces, reality bites at World Cup

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

     
    Colin Kaepernick weighing his offseason approach

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Arians reportedly to go back to Lindley as starter

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Former TE Ben Utecht delivers musical message

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    K-State’s Snyder still penning old-school notes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    Fresno State pushed around in in Hawaii Bowl

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    This date in sports history for Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

    Eagles have quarterback questions going into 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

     
    New OT rule in minor-league hockey generating buzz

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

    To reduce elitism, British horse racing educating spectators

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

     
    Bad news for Balotelli as Liverpool alters system

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

    LeBron James, Steph Curry lead NBA All-Star voting

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

     
    Former NBA All-Star Marbury fan favorite in China

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

    Signups for Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

     
    D-I’s youngest coach also has inexperienced team

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

    No. 17 Wisconsin hopes program back on steady ground

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

     
    Rookie Martin makes quick impression in Dallas

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

    .

    Business

    After 19 years, Alfa Romeo is back in US

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

     
    Bad Santa? 5 tips to tackle your holiday gift returns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    .

    Obituaries

    Thomas A. O’Neill

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9