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"I tried to put pressure on the other favorites with my team and Poljanski pulled at the front. In the end, I gained time on some of the riders behind me in the GC and I’m still 3rd overall. It will be very close."

Photo: Tinkoff-Saxo / BettiniPhoto

PAWEL POLJANSKI

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RAFAL MAJKA

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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07.09.2015 @ 22:24 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Rafal Majka took time on several riders on the immensely steep Ermita de Alba and retained his 3rd place on the Vuelta a España podium ahead of the decisive time trial in Burgos. Crossing the line on the brutal summit finish, 12 seconds behind Rodriguez, Majka predicted that the fight for the podium would be very close.

 

Standing atop Ermita de Alba after three consecutive days of grueling climbing at Vuelta a España, Rafal Majka declares himself content with the outcome of stage 16.

 

“I’m satisfied, I have to be, because I was up there among the first. But it was difficult to follow Rodriguez, when it’s this steep. He is a specialist on these shorter steep climbs but I only lost a few seconds, 12 to Rodriguez and 10 to Aru. The last 500 meters were not easy but I tried my best and gave it everything I had. I tried to put pressure on the other favorites with my team and Poljanski pulled at the front. In the end, I gained time on some of the riders behind me in the GC and I’m still 3rd overall. It will be very close”, says Rafal Majka and adds:

 

“We still have five stages left at the Vuelta and everybody will normally have a bad day - Dumoulin didn’t have that today and he was very impressive on the final climb. We will see how the GC is after the time trial. Tomorrow is the rest day and we have to prepare for the TT. I haven’t done an individual time trial in two months but I have to go full gas for my team. 40 flat kilometers against the clock - it’s going to be very tough and surely we will see some changes in the GC”.

 

While Fränk Schleck took the stage win from the breakaway, the favorites waited until the final kilometers before putting in their attacks from a highly decimated GC group. Pawel Poljanski, who stayed with team captain Rafal Majka deep into the finale, notes that everybody had respect for what waited on the last kilometers.

 

“We tried to make the race tough, but you have to respect a climb like this, because you need something in reserve for when you hit the really steep sections. Maybe we could have tried to drop Dumoulin earlier but he was strong and we were already pushing at the front. I’m really happy with the last few days. I’ve been able to help Rafal on the final climbs and that is why I’m here. I feel strong and it’s important because the Vuelta is still long with a week to go. Rafal is normally not as fast as Dumoulin in the time trial but we are far into the Vuelta and he has done some very good time trials in the past. Then afterwards we still have some mountain stages left, the climbs are not as hard as the last few days but we will have to try there as well. Now our focus is on getting as much rest as possible”, says Pawel Poljanski.

 

Stage 16 from Luarca to Ermita de Alba in the Asturian mountains challenged the riders with more than 5,000 altitude meters during the 185km stage. After a remarkably slow start, Tinkoff-Saxo decided to put on the pressure, tells sports director Tristan Hoffman.

 

“Everybody had a lot of respect for the final climb today and with good reason – it was incredibly steep. The first part of the stage was very slow and the breakaway got 20 minutes and ended up finishing ahead. Nobody wanted to take control. Since we aren’t in the red jersey and with 7 riders left in the race, it’s simply not up to us to take the front from the start, as Katusha and Astana are 1st and 2nd in the GC. But in the end, I will rather finish the stage knowing that we tried our very best to ride our race and improve our chances”, explains Hoffman before adding about the outcome:

 

“So we decided to set a hard tempo over the climbs before the finale and also on Ermita de Alba, as we wanted to drop Dumoulin. However, he was very strong today. Finally Rafal managed to take some seconds on him but I think that many GC contenders wanted to gain more time than they did today. Poljanski was fantastic again and can be proud of himself. Rafal was there at the top and we can say that we tried our absolute best. He retains his 3rd place, so the result is definitely good but much will still be on the line in the TT”, finishes Tristan Hoffman.

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