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Majka marches to Pyrnean victory
23 Jul 2014 16:04
Poland's Rafal Majka claimed his second victory of the 2014 Tour de France on stage 17 as Vincenzo Nibali further enhanced his hold on the race leader's yellow jersey.
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The 124.5km route from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary Pla d'Adet was a brute, with four categorised climbs including the finishing ascent where the stage result was decided.
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Majka won Saturday's 14th stage to Risoul and recorded Tinkoff-Saxo's second successive Pyrenean stage win after Michael Rogers' success on Tuesday as the team's strong performance since losing leader Alberto Contador to injury continued.
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Contador began the race as one of the overall favourites, but it appears no-one will challenge Nibali (Astana) for the maillot jaune now.
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Nibali finished third on the stage, 46 seconds behind Majka, but crucially enhancing his advantage over his rivals for the top spot on the podium in Paris on Sunday.
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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is now five minutes 26 seconds behind after finishing 49 seconds behind Nibali on Wednesday.
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Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) remains third, six minutes behind Nibali, after finishing 11th, five seconds behind Valverde.
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Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) is eight seconds behind his fellow Frenchman, though, after finishing fourth on the day, alongside Nibali.
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Thibaut and Peraud are battling to be the first Frenchman on the Tour podium in 17 years.
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Ireland's Nicolas Roche came ninth on the stage, having featured prominently as the riders attacked the final climb. Overall, he is now 42nd.
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