Rafal Majka powered his way to a great solo win on the mountainous stage 11 to Cauterets. Bearing a great resemblance to his two memorable solo wins of the 2014 edition, Rafal Majka put the hammer down on the penultimate climb to Col du Tourmalet. Peter Sagan picked up points in the fight for the green jersey and now leads the classification with 7 points, while Daniele Bennati sadly had to abandon the race due to a crash.
Rafal Majka made his move from a seven-rider front group on the slopes of Tourmalet, 48km from the finish. After the impressive effort in the Pyrenees claiming a notable solo win, Majka dedicates the win to his teammates.
“I dedicate this win to my team and especially Ivan Basso and Daniele Bennati, who crashed today. I only attacked once, but it was at the right moment. I was watching the other riders and noticed that many of them were suffering so I decided to attack. My teammates supported me to go in the breakaway and I told my sports directors that I wanted to attack already on the Tourmalet instead of waiting. I needed a hard climb to create a gap and I took nearly 1’30” on the Tourmalet. I’m very happy with this win and it is great for the morale on the team”, says Rafal Majka, who conquered the win by a margin of 1’00” down to his nearest follower.
“A lot of people are asking me whether I want to go for the polka dotted jersey, but it’s not easy to do that and ride for Alberto at the same time. Today, I was given the opportunity and I wanted to do my best but I am here to support Alberto and we still have two weeks left to race, and many riders suffered today. I like when it’s warm and the climbs are hard so I felt good today”, adds Rafal Majka.
The eleventh stage of Tour de France took the riders deep into the Pyrenees, where they had to tackle no less than six categorized climbs. Team captain Alberto Contador, who finished together with the GC contenders, tells that his sensations were better than on yesterday’s stage.
“Peter was able to sprint perfectly and took the green jersey. Rafal grabbed very well the opportunity, caught the breakaway the moment one needed fresh legs and then crowned it with the stage win. It could have been a perfect day if it weren't for the crash of Daniele Bennati and his withdrawal from the race. It's an important loss to the team. He was a fundamental part of our squad in the first half of the Tour and if we didn't have him, I would be a near catastrophe. I hope he doesn't have anything serious”, says Alberto Contador after the stage before adding:
“In what concerns myself, I feel a bit better than yesterday but it's true I didn't push as hard as yesterday. I think I need some more time to feel very well. The heat was tremendous today and the forecast for tomorrow calls for higher temperatures. It's crucial to recover every day. Tomorrow’s stage will bring me good memories, when in 2007 I was able to win after five attacks. However, every year is different. The legs I have today are maybe different from the ones in the past, especially the ones from last year. I wish I had them today but we have to take it day by day and focus on recovery”.
For Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh, the day was very positive with the exception of the withdrawal of Daniele Bennati, who crashed out of the race.
“First and foremost, I think that it was a very good news that Ivan’s operation went well. We are all very happy for that. Then, it’s a real pity that Daniele has to leave due to a irritating crash like that. But let’s hope that the scans don’t reveal any fractures and that he’s able to recover quickly. He’s a very important guy for the team and it’s a pity to lose him, but he was in a lot of pain”, says Steven de Jongh, who underlines that the outcome of the day was a turning point.
“Today, our race took a big turn with Rafal winning the stage and Peter back in green compared to the last few days, where it has been tough. I’m so proud of the guys and their fighting spirit”.
Unfortunately, Daniele Bennati suffered a crash on the stage, as another rider swirled in front of him shortly after the intermediate sprint. Bennati crashed on the right side of his body and suffered extensive skin wounds and a large hematoma over his right tibia. The size of the hematoma did not allow for the examinations needed to rule out a fracture on his tibia. As a result, Daniele Bennati will return home as soon as possible and further examinations will be completed later during the week.
“I’m very sad that I have to leave the Tour and my teammates but this is unfortunately the reality. Another rider switched direction suddenly around the feedzone and that brought me down. I immediately got back up and continued and at first the pain was not overwhelming but during the next kilometers my leg swelled up due to the hematoma. In the end, I couldn’t pedal and I had to stop”, says Daniele Bennati, who will now direct his attention towards making as swift a recovery as possible.