Polish rider Rafal Majka won Stage 14 of the 2014 Tour de France, scaling the grueling mountains from Grenoble to Risoul in style.
The stage brought the Tour to its highest point of the entire race, and with three daunting climbs to negotiate, it certainly took a strong performance from Majka to cross first.
The 24-year-old led the breakaway on the final climb for the first stage victory of his career, as Le Tour de France reported:
Vincenzo Nibali then powerfully crossed in second to strengthen his grip on the Tour title, as we see below:
|Tour de France 2014 Stage 14 Result|
|Vincenzo Nibali||Astana||+24 seconds|
|Romain Bardet||AG2R||Same Time|
|Tejay van Garderen||BMC Racing||+54|
|Laurens ten Dam||Belkin||+1:07|
|Tour de France 2014 General Classification Standings|
|Tejay van Garderen||BMC Racing||+5:49|
It was another day of brutal Alpine climbs for the Tour de France’s finest, and it was no surprise to see Majka and Nibali taking up first and second spots once again.
The Italian pipped Majka on Friday’s Stage 13 by just 10 seconds, but the Pole timed his attack perfectly this time around to take the stage glory and get sweet revenge.
Majka was a last-minute addition to the Tinkoff-Saxo team before the race began. While he wasn't keen to take part initially, Saturday's victory makes it all worth it.
He seemed as surprised as anyone to be at the top of the podium come the end of the race, as he told Sky Sports that he's used to coming up just short: “This is the first victory of my career. I am always second or third, but today I knew I needed to attack on the climb.”
The attack itself was superb, and with around 300 meters remaining in Risoul, a smile started to creep onto Majka's face, knowing that victory was imminent.
However, the day belonged to Nibali, who has now opened up a four-minute gap between him and Alejandro Valverde at the top of the general classification leaderboard.
Coming into the stage with a healthy lead, the Italian could have afforded to sit back on Saturday, but the way that he attacked is what has put him in pole position for the yellow jersey.
Valverde did just enough to remain second in the overall standings, closely followed by Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot and Tejay van Garderen.
The battle for second place looks set to go to the wire, but if Nibali keeps up this kind of form, then there’ll be no stopping him.
Finishing over a minute in front of Valverde, Nibali put together a phenomenal ride in Stage 14, and former Great Britain cyclist Rob Hayles told BBC Radio 5 live sports extra that he’s the standout performer of the Tour, per BBC Sport: “I don't really know what to say about Nibali, other than he is by far the strongest rider in this race."
Hayles isn't the only one impressed by Nibali, as Astana manager Alexander Vinokourov also heaped praise on his star rider, per Cycling News: “Vincenzo saw the opportunity, has been superb, and you have to enjoy the moment. Nibali has shown, once again, that he is the boss and he has made it very clear so that all understand it."
Just seven stages remain before the Tour de France comes to a close in Paris, and bar a serious hiccup, Nibali won't be having the yellow jersey wrested from him.
Sunday will see the Italian try his luck on the flat stage from Tallard to Nimes, where he'll likely sit back before pressing home his advantage on the Tour's return to the mountains.