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“We can now embark on the queen stage tomorrow in sixth place overall and we will try to fight for the GC, since Rafal is doing well. It’s a different stage tomorrow with a much longer final climb."

Photo: Tinkoff-Saxo






08.04.2015 @ 22:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Rafal Majka followed up on a team effort at Vuelta al País Vasco by finishing fifth on the highly undulating third stage, 7 seconds behind stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez. Bouncing back from a stomach flu, Majka showed that his form is on the ascendency and, together with his Tinkoff-Saxo teammates, he now approach the queen stage finishing atop a first category climb.
After no less than eight categorized climbs, stage 3 of País Vasco was concluded in a decisive second ride up Alto de la Antigua and the subsequent, short descent down towards the finish line in Zumarraga. Rodriguez, Quintana and Henao broke loose on Antigua and had 7 seconds to a four-man chasing group including Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rafal Majka upon crossing the line.
Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Patxi Vila was pleased with the outcome of the stage and notes that the importance of positioning in the pack had called for strong teamwork throughout the stage.
“It was a very hard stage and our guys made a big effort to ensure that we were in a good position for the critical parts. Majka’s fifth place is a fine result for him and the team, as it shows that he’s getting better. He said that he felt strong during the stage, of course he lacked the last power to keep up with the trio on the final part of the last climb, but he is definitely getting there”, explains Patxi Vila.

Stage 3 of País Vasco presented the riders with 170.7km of climbing combined with fast downhill sections – a typical and tiring combination for racing in the Basque Country. After crossing the line, Patxi Vila identifies the key point of the race and sheds light on the team strategy.
“Constant climbing and windy conditions meant that there was a lot of tension in the peloton. Positioning was crucial and we had six guys at the front of the pack in an effort to protect Rafal and make sure that he stayed out of crashes. A critical point was the first ascent of Alto de la Antigua, where we knew that it was very important to enter the climb among the first”, tells Patxi Vila and adds:
“As we witnessed, riders eventually had to walk up the last steep part and the main group split into pieces. However, we had issued the whole team to enter the climb in the front and afterwards Pawel Poljanski made a great effort on the steep part by setting a hard tempo and we eventually made a selection of around 30 riders including Rafal and Pawel”.
“We can now embark on the queen stage tomorrow in sixth place overall and we will try to fight for the GC, since Rafal is doing well. It’s a different stage tomorrow with a much longer final climb and we still have a lot of racing in front of us”, underlines Patxi Vila.

Pawel Poljanski witnessed the effect of the short but steep Alto de la Antigua, which the riders had to confront twice with 32 and 4 kilometers to go.
“Today, it was important for us to stay at the front and when we reached Antigua the first time, Rafal said to me that I should pull hard at full gas to secure a good position. We created a group of around 16 guys on the top with only 30km to go, but together with a Katusha rider, I was the only one who pulled and Movistar didn’t seem to be interested. A group bridged the gap from behind, which was a shame”, says Pawel Poljanski, who reckons that it’s possible to further the position of team captain Rafal Majka.
“Personally, I feel better than Paris-Nice, still my shape is not at 100 percent but I’m working to reach top shape. However, today was motivating and we want to keep doing our best on the next important stages. Our work is definitely not done and the race is still very open, as we try to bring Rafal higher in the GC”.
Ahead of the queen stage, Rafal Majka sits sixth, 7 seconds down on race leader Sergio Henao.



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