Recent Tour de France KOM champ Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) was crowned the overall winner of the Tour of Poland Saturday in Krakow, defending his race lead over a 25km time trial.
It was the biggest career win for the 24-year-old Pole, who won two stages at the Tour in July, and finished sixth overall at the Giro d’Italia in May.
Belgian national TT champ Kristof Vandewalle (Trek Factory Racing) won the stage, finishing three seconds ahead of Adriano Malori (Movistar) and 10 seconds ahead of Steve Cummings (BMC Racing).
“This was a big win. The nationals win for me was also nice, but it was a very hard week and this being a WorldTour race – yes, it’s a big win,” Vandewalle said. “This morning we had a four-and-a-half-hour transfer to the start, so we arrived fairly late. I rode the parcours with Bob [Jungels], and only had a half-hour rest before I started my warm-up.
“It was hard to stay motivated and concentrated on the race with such a long trip beforehand. The course had long straights up and back, with some gradual uphills, but I never lost my speed. On the way back I had really good speed and legs. I almost lost everything in the last corner when I almost crashed. It probably cost me two seconds, but in the end everything went right; I have to be thankful that I did not crash. After that I had the stress of waiting until everyone came in.”
Majka started the day with an 18-second advantage over Spaniard Benat Intxausti (Movistar) and a 22-second lead over Intxausti’s teammate Jon Izaguirre.
Ultimately, Majka took the GC win by just eight seconds over Izaguirre (Movistar), and 22 seconds ahead of Intxausti.
Saxo team director Tristan Hoffman was all smiles after the podium ceremony. “It has been a magnificent ride,” he said. “Not just today but the whole week has been awesome in terms of teamwork and dedication. Everyone’s been working any targeting the same goal providing Rafal with the support he needed to succeed overall. And today, he paid back. He was incredibly focused and I think he rode the TT of his life. The spectators here made it feel like Tour de France and I’m sure they’re partly responsible for Rafal’s powerful ride today. He truly deserves this win.”
Majka next heads to Colorado, to compete at the USA Pro Challenge.