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Frenchman once again finishes off long-distance attack in the mountains, takes a solo win in the queen stage of the Tour de Pologne and moves himself into third overall while Majka benefits from bad day for Ulissi to take the yellow jersey

Photo: Sirotti








28.07.2013 @ 16:17 Posted by Adam Aisen

Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) once again proved that he is the master of long-distance breaks in the mountains when the Frenchman took a huge solo win on the Passo Pordoi in the queen stage of the Tour de Pologne - less than two weeks after his Tour win on the Alpe d'Huez. Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) was the only one able to match Sergio Henao's (Sky) speed in the peloton and the Pole benefited from a bad day for race leader Diege Ulissi (Lampre) to move himself into the overall lead, 4 seconds ahead of Henao.


He did it in Ax-3-Domaines in the 2010 Tour, he did it on Alpe d'Huez less than two weeks ago and today he did it on the Passo Pordoi in the queen stage of the Tour de Pologne. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) has developed into one of the best escape artists in the peloton and with another dominant showing, he has underlined his excellent ability to take big solo wins in the mountains.


The Frenchman had joined an early 16-rider breakaway that contained no less of a figure than Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) but while riders gradually fell off, the Frenchman managed to remain in contention throughout the day. The last standing companion was Thomas Rohregger (Radioshack) who was left behind with 8km to go and from then on, nobody saw Riblon until they had crossed the finish line.


The peloton paid the price for the reduced 6-rider rosters and were unable to bring back the early escape. Despite Saxo-Tinkoff's best efforts on the final climb, they never closed the gap and so they had to battle it out for the minor placings. It all came down to a small sprint for fourth in a select group and Sergio Henao and Rafal Majka emerged as the fastest, putting a few seconds into their nearest rivals.


Race leader Diego Ulissi had a terrible day and lost more than 10 minutes to fall completely out of contention. Riblon almost took everything today as he gained 10 bonus seconds for his win and another 10 seconds by virtue of the rule changes that have been introduced for the race. However, it was not enough for him to take the yellow jersey which will now be worn by Majka who leads Henao by 4 seconds, Riblon being another 2 seconds further adrift.


The race takes an unusual rest day tomorrow while it travels from Italy to its native Poland and resumes on Tuesday with a mostly flat stage that should give the sprinters their first chance to shine. Starting at 16.45, you can follow that stage on


A dangerous 16-rider breakaway

The 206,5km stage was the final of two consecutive stages in the Italian Dolomites and had been described as the queen stage of the race. The mighty Passo de Pampeago, Passo Costalunga and the final Passo Pordoi made for a very hard day in the saddle in sizzling heat.


Early on,  a very dangerous 16-rider break moved clear as Nibali decided to show that he is here to be part of the action. He was joined by Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Danny Pate (Sky), Bruno Pires (Saxo-Tinkoff), Maciej Paterski (Cannondale), Rohregger, Angel Madrazo (Movistar), Georg Preidler (Argos-Shimano), Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil), Riblon, Sandy Casar (FDJ), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ), Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Endura) and Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC) in what was the day's early move.


Those 16 riders managed to build up a gap of more than 5 minutes as the small-sized teams struggled to control the large group. As they started the Pampeago climb with 72km to go, the gap had come down to 4.18 as the Lampre team of race leader Ulissi did their best to reel in the escapees.


Nibali on the attack

Huzarski, Pauwels and Madrazo had made a move just before the climb but it all came back together on the lower slopes. Instead, it was Nibali and Marczynski who attacked and they were joined by Rohregger a few moments later.


The group had now splintered to pieces and Riblon, Mihaylov and Stybar formed a chase group a little further behind. Marczynski was unable to keep up with the leaders and so he fell back to the chasers and a little later, Nibali was also unable to keep up with Rohregger.


Rohregger first rider on the Pampeago

Rohregger crested the summit 40 seconds ahead of the chasers which had now lost Marczynski and Mihaylov while Nibali was still in between. The peloton was 5 minutes behind as Colombia had now joined Lampre on the front.


Nibali made it across on the descent and a little later, Riblon and Stybar also gained contact. Just as they started the Costalunga climb, Marczynski put himself back into contention and so the lead group was now a quintet. Behind, Preidler and Paterski had overtaken Mihaylov and those two riders benefited from a hesitating lead group to make the junction. BMC was now leading the peloton on the descent as the American squad had missed the break but the gap had now come up to a massive 6 minutes.


Nibali in difficulty

Marczynski attacked early on the climb and that put Nibali and Paterski into difficulty. Both made it back up but a little later Nibali had to give up and fell far behind. Behind, it was Colombia doing all the work in the peloton as Ulissi was dropped and so Lampre had no incentive to chase anmore.


Over the top of the climb, Preidler attacked to take the maximum points but his teammate Rohregger was the strongest. Behind, Pauwels had managed to remain in the peloton and attacked to cross the line as the first rider from the main group. However, the effort was in vain as the escapees had already taken all the points on offer.


Colombia chase hard

By virtue of the hard work of Calos Quintero (Colombia), the gap had come down to 3.20 and Colombia was now assisted by Euskaltel who have a genuine overall winner candidate in Ion Izagirre. Later, Movistar also put Madrazo on the front to set up Eros Capecchi and Javier Moreno for a possible stage win.


Movistar, Euskaltel and Colombia dug deep on the valley roads to bring the gap down to 2.15 at the bottom of the final climb. Marczynski made an immediate attack but was chased down by Paterski who left his compatriot behind.


Rohregger makes his move

Preidler had fallen behind as Rohregger attacked with Riblon being the only one able to match his acceleration. Those two bridged to Paterski who fell behind a little later.


In the peloton, BMC made another short presence on the front of the peloton but from then on Saxo-Tinkoff was in control on the entire climb. Their hard riding gradually whittled down the main group to less than 15 riders.


Riblon goes off on his own

With 8km to go, Riblon attacked as the gap had now come down to 1.44. Despite the best efforts from Saxo-Tinkoff, the Frenchman did an outstanding job to extend his lead to 2.21 with just 3km remaining.


As the favourites upped the speed a bit in the closing kilometres, Riblon lost a little bit of his lead but he still had enough to take a big solo win. Rohregger followed 1.02 later while Preidler rode a steady tempo to take third.


Henao beat Majka in the sprint 1.35 behind Riblon while the remainders of the peloton rolled across the line a few seconds later. A tense wait followed until it was confirmed that Majka will take over the lead in his big home race as the race now prepares to travel back to Poland.



1. Christophe Riblon 6.03.40

2. Thomas Rohregger +1.02

3. Georg Preidler +1.18

4. Sergio Henao +1.35

5. Rafal Majka

6. Pieter Weening +1.38

7. Chris Anker Sørensen +1.40

8. Ion Izagirre +1.44

9. Domenico Pozzovivo

10. Robert Kiserlovski +1.47


General classification:

1. Rafal Majka 11.04.43

2. Sergio Henao +0.04

3. Christophe Riblon +0.06

4. Pieter Weening +0.07

5. Chris Anker Sørensen +0.09

6. Ion Izagirre +0.13

7. Domenico Pozzovivo

8. Robert Kiserlovski +0.16

9. Thomas Rohregger +0.18

10. Eros Capecchi +0.20


Points classification:

1. Rafal Majka 34

2. Eros Capecchi 28

3. Ion Izagirre 27

4. Domenico Pozzovivo 27

5. Pieter Weening 26


Mountains classification:

1. Thomas Rohregger 27

2. Christophe Riblon 20

3. Bartosz Huzarski 15

4. Chris Anker Sørensen 13

5. Georg Preidler 12


Sprints classification:

1. Bartosz Huzarski 13

2. Serge Pauwels 8

3. Angel Madrazo 5

4. Leonardo Duque 3

5. Cedric Pineau 2


Teams classification:

1. Radioshack 33.16.33

2. Team Saxo-Tinkoff +5.43

3. Argos-Shimano +8.55

4. Cannondale +8.59

5. Movistar +11.40



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