(Road Bike Action & AFP; Photo: Bettini)
Poland’s Rafal Majka, last year’s king of the mountains, won the 188km 11th stage of the Tour de France after a solo breakaway in the Pyrenees on Wednesday. Ireland’s Dan Martin came home second a minute later with German champion Emmanuel Buchmann in third at 1min 23sec. Briton Chris Froome finished ninth in a 10-man group just over five minutes back to maintain the race leader’s yellow jersey. American Tejay Van Garderen kept hold of second spot at 2min 52sec with Nairo Quintana third at 3min 09sec.
It was Majka’s third Tour stage win after a pair of successes in the mountains last year as he won the polka-dot jersey for the race’s best climber. He was part of an eight-man breakaway earlier in the day but attacked his companions on the hors category Col du Tourmalet climb with 50km to ride and never looked back. Martin, who was not part of the initial seven-man breakaway but made up almost four minutes on his own to join the others, was initially dropped on the Tourmalet but came back strongly to overhaul Serge Pauwels for second spot. Belgian Pauwels cracked completely on the short third category climb just before the finish and was also overtaken by Buchmann.
After Froome’s decimation of his rivals on Tuesday it was a much calmer day in the saddle for the overall contenders, until a frantic last climb of the 6.4km third category climb on the way into the finish in Cauterets. An acceleration by Bauke Mollema saw reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali dropped from the yellow jersey group and the Italian, who suffered badly on Tuesday, lost almost a minute to drop out of the top 10, replaced by Mollema. French hopes suffered another miserable day as Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot — second and third overall last year — were again distanced on the lower slopes of the day’s toughest climb.
1. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 5h02min 01sec (average: 37.3 km/h)
2. Daniel Martin (IRL/CAN) at 1:00.
3. Emanuel Buchmann (GER/BOA) 1:23.
4. Serge Pauwels (BEL/MTN) 2:08.
5. Thomas Voeckler (FRA/EUC) 3:34.
6. Julien Simon (FRA/COF) 3:34.
7. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) 5:11.
8. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 5:19.
9. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 5:21.
10. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 5:21.
11. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 5:21.
12. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC) 5:21.
13. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 5:21.
14. Geraint Thomas (WAL/SKY) 5:21.
15. Robert Gesink (NED/LNL) 5:21.