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Double Tour de France stage winner Rafal Majka has said that he believes his future in the race could be a very good one, with the Polish rider thriving during his first participation.
The Tinkoff Saxo competitor was seventh and sixth in the past two editions of the Giro d’Italia. It was initially not thought that he would ride the Giro-Tour double at just 24 years of age, but he was announced as competing after team-mate Roman Kreuziger was sidelined over biological passport concerns.
He has excelled in the race, picking up victories on stages 14 and 17 and also opening up a solid lead in the mountains classification.
“This is my first Tour de France,” he said, when asked to consider what his future might hold in the event. “I won two stages. I am really happy.
“I really like the Tour de France and maybe for me it is the best because it is really nice weather always. It is not the same like the Giro when it is cold and raining. Here it is very warm and hot. I like this kind of weather.”
Although the team’s instruction to him to take things easy in the opening week ensured that he lost time and is not in contention overall – he was due to ride the race in support of Alberto Contador, after all – many seem him as a rider who could fight for the overall someday in the race.
Time will tell if that will be the case or not. Still, if he rides well on stage 18, he will book his place on the podium in Paris as the winner of the King of the Mountains classification.
He started stage 17 with a slender one point lead over Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and looked to be slipping out of the polka dot jersey when the Catalan rider clocked up 24 points to Majka’s ten on the first three climbs.
The team had a strategy, though. “My team-mates were perfect today. Before the start Bjarne Riis told me not to go for the first GPM [King of the Mountains – ed]. ‘We need to wait, wait, wait and win the stage. When you win the stage, then we have double points for the mountains jersey.’”
Listen to the audio clip above for Majka’s full winner’s press conference from stage 17, including his statement that he had ‘a lot of comfort’ in the final five kilometres.