Rafal Majka of Tinkoff-Saxo has taken his second stage win of the 2014 Tour de France, attacking on the day's final climb to Saint-Lary - Pla d'Adet in the Pyrenees and getting across to Movistar's Giovanni Visconti before dropping the Italianwith 2 kilometres remaining.
The Pole led the mountains classification by a single point from Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez this morning, but with the Spaniard dropped he extends his margin with double points on offer on the final Hors-Categorie climb.
Visconti finished second, 23 seconds behind, with Astana's Vincenzo Nibali thrid to consolidate his lead. One of the day's main losers was Movistar's Alejandro Valverde, second overall this morning but dropped from the group containing the riders threatening his position.
Majka, called up to the team as a late replacement for Roman Kreuziguer pulled out of the squad due to irregularities in his biological passport, took his first stage victory at Risoul on Sunday to help Tinkoff-Saxo put the disappointment of losing Alberto Contador behind him.
On the first of today’s four climbs, the Category 1 Col de Portillon, Rodriguez took the maximum points 10 points on offer to become virtual leader of the mountains classification, but Majka was eyeing a bigger prize – the stage win, and the 50 points that came with it – and the Katusha man was unable to stay with him on the last ascent.
Team Sky’s Vasil Kiryienka attacked from a 22-man breakaway group approaching the day’s second climb, the Col du Peyresourde with 55 kilometres left to ride, but was caught with 22 kilometres remaining ahead of the summit of the penultimate climb, the Col de Val Louron-Azet.
Besides Majka’s stage-winning attack, the other big move on the final ascent came from Nibali, who extends his lead over Valverde to 5 minutes 26 seconds.
AG2R’s Jean-Christophe Peraud was able to follow Valverde, and now lies fourth overall, 42 seconds behind the Spaniard and just 8 seconds down on fellow Frenchman Thibaut Pinot of FDJ.fr.
With the final day in the mountains tomorrow, featuring the Tourmalet and the Hautacam, and an individual time trial looming in Friday, there is a real prospect of France having two men on the podium for the first time since 1984.
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Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.