• Majka and Didi the Devil share a look, but Majka certainly had something of the devil in him today.
Tinkoff's Rafal Majka may have been pipped for the stage win, but his exploits in the break netted him another prize: the polka-dot jersey.
By
Cycling Cental

18 Jul 2016 - 7:44 AM  UPDATED 18 Jul 2016 - 7:45 AM

Majka may not have been the first rider to attack on the 2016 Tour's 15th stage from Bourg-en-Bresse to Culoz, but his was the attack that stuck.

A searing acceleration on the Col du Berthiand saw Majka take maximum points on the first of six summits on the difficult stage in the Jura in a quest to retake the King of the Mountains jersey from Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal).

Majka pushed the break all day, claiming points on each climb and the full 25 points on the Hors Catégorie Grand Colombier. Majka had trailed De Gendt by just 13 points at the beginning of the stage; by the end of the day, the Polish rider had establised a 37-point lead over the Belgian.

He looked on course to take the stage win as well, distancing the rest of the break over the final summit, but Jarlinson Pantano caught Majka on the descent to the finish - after Majka nearly overshot a corner - and outsprinted him on the line.

Majka wasn't too upset, though, having achieved his goal for the day.

“I'm happy with my performance today - it's not easy to take the KOM jersey and win the stage," said Majka. "I wanted to take everything but in the end I didn't want to take too much risk in the descent – I crashed four days ago and am still suffering a bit in my arms with the vibrations in the road.

"I knew Pantano would be quick at the finish, but still I'm happy with my race today,” he added.

De Gendt, whose victory on the chaotic stage ending on Mont Ventoux netted him the polka-dot jersey, had tried to establish an early break but was ultimately unsuccessful.

"“I tried four or five times to be part of the breakaway but that didn’t work out. When it started to go uphill after sixteen kilometres, I felt that I didn’t have the legs to join an attack.

De Gendt added that he simply didn't have the legs to contend with Majka today.

"From the moment that the right break was formed, I was unable to follow and several kilometres later I was dropped from the reduced bunch. Beforehand, I said that I would try to defend the polka dot jersey. But I also mentioned that the feeling in the legs would be important," said De Gendt.

"I’m not giving up, but it won’t be an easy task to reclaim that jersey. I would rather try to obtain a second stage win, after that we’ll see what’s still possible in the KOM classification.”