Rafal Majka conquers the Tourmalet & takes stage 11 at the Tour de France 2015

Cover: Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11, Col du Tourmalet
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Rafal Majka (Tinkoff Saxo) claimed the victory at Cauterets after charging over the Tourmalet at stage 11 of the Tour de France. Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) finished second 1 minute behind Majka and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora Argon 18) was third.

I dedicate this win to my team and especially Ivan Basso and Daniele Bennati, who crashed today. I only attacked once, but it was at the right moment. I was watching the other riders and noticed that many of them were suffering so I decided to attack. My teammates supported me to go in the breakaway and I told my sports directors that I wanted to attack already on the Tourmalet instead of waiting. I needed a hard climb to create a gap and I took nearly 1’30” on the Tourmalet. I’m very happy with this win and it is great for the morale on the team.”
Rafal Majka, Tinkoff Saxo

Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chris Froome (Team Sky) safely retained the overall lead sitting 2 minutes 52 seconds in front of Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) after stage 11.

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Stage 11 – Pau / Cauterets – Vallée de Saint-Savin – 188km

by Todd Hofert

Just over a week into the Tour and the top wrung of the GC ladder is now well established. Chris Froome stamped his authority on this years campaign on the first HC climb of the race yesterday. Now sitting on a margin of 2:52 over his nearest rival will he continue to “ride defensively” in his own words, or will he assert himself to make an emphatic claim on the title?

The stage to Cauterets today provided an equal opportunity for either approach he chose to take. Well suited for a break to succeed and for the climber looking to establish himself as a Polka-Dot Jersey contender, an easy ride in the bunch is what Froome was hoping for today with Plateau de Beille on the profile for tomorrow.

Any thoughts of an easy day were quickly extinguished when a series of attempts to form a break were all chased down. It seemed all of the teams were interested in being in the break today and that led to difficulty for anyone trying to establish a break and for anyone thinking they would have an easy start to the day. An attempt to take notes on all the activity leading up to the break that finally formed would prove futile and I too would settle back to accepting that my chances for covering the break today were over.

The break that did finally succeed after about 85km of racing would contain: Arnaud Démare (FDJ) FRA, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) POL, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) FRA, Steve Morabito (FDJ) SUI, Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka) BEL, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18) GER and Julien Simon (Cofidis, Solutions Credit) FRA. They would lead the race through the feed and onto the slopes of the Col d’ Aspin.

Earlier in the day, the bunch would contest the intermediate sprint at just over 56km into the stage. Peter Sagan, after Tweeting yesterday that he wants his Green Jersey back, would land a 17 point second place result behind Matteo Trentin (Etixx – Quick Step) ITA. This would give Sagan the points he needed to rest the jersey away from Greipel for the time being. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) GER would grab 15 points for third, Zdenek Stybar (Etixx – Quick Step) CZE and Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) FRA would round out the top five. Andre Greipel would come in 9th.

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Dan Martin, Cannondale-Garmin, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Dan Martin (Cannondale Garmin) IRL, trying to salvage what has thus far been a dreadful Tour for Cannondale-Garmin, would put in an effort to bridge to the break and would reel them in up the Col d’ Aspin. The lead group of seven had a seven-minute gap over the peloton and a handful of minutes over the few stragglers trying to stay out ahead of the pack. The gap over the summit of the Col d’ Aspin would be 7:48. Dan Martin would claim the 10 points for the first man to reach the summit and would immediately go on the attack on the descent.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 11
Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Martin would not go far as the remaining six members of the break plus Arnaud Démare, one of the aforementioned stragglers, would manage the gap to Martin and the group of eight would arrive at the base of the Col du Tourmalet together 7:06 ahead of the main field.

Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) POL would strike out on his own on the Tourmalet. He would gain a minute over his former break companions. He would go over the top and grab the 25 points and 5,000 euros.

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Rafał Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The peloton would follow led by the Maillot Jaune at 5:35, the remnants of the break somewhere between. Vincenzo Nibali could be seen on the front of the chasing peloton. Riding for himself or for the newly assigned team leader Jakob Fuglsang?

Rui Costa, Lampre-Merida, Tour de France 2015 teams presentation
Rui Costa, Lampre-Merida, Tour de France 2015 teams presentation Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rui Costa would abandon the race still suffering from injuries his injuries from last week. He joins a long list of abandons including Johan Van Summeren (AG2R), Rein Taaramae (Astana), Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Ben Gastauer (AG2R).

Serge Pauwels, MTN-Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11
Serge Pauwels, MTN-Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The break would splinter across the roads. Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka) BEL in pursuit of Majka, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18) GER in pursuit of Pauwels, Dan Martin (Cannondale Garmin) IRL aggressively attacking them all. At the 4km to go banner Dan Martin (Cannondale Garmin) IRL would storm past Serge Pauwels the last man between he and Majka but it would once again prove too little too late for Martin as Rafel Majka would cruise to the stage win. Emanuel Buchmann would catch Pauwels as well relegating the former to fourth place on the day.

Tommy Voeckler, Team Europcar Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Tommy Voeckler, Team Europcar Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Thomas Voeckler and Julien Simon would cross the line some 3:33 adrift of the stage winner followed by Bauke Mollema who launched a late attack on the yellow jersey group. Vincenzo Nibail, who looked solid on the Col d’Aspin and the Tourmalet would pop yet again giving up more time on the general classification. At what point does he simply abandon the race?

Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A big day on the way to the summit of the Plateau de Beille faces the riders tomorrow. The steep slopes should provide plenty of action for those trying to make a dent in Froome’s lead and move themselves up the leader board.

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Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde, Tejay Van Garderen, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Stage 11
Date: 15 July, 2015
Start:  Pau
Finish: Cauterets – Valley of Saint-Savin
Distance: 188 km

Rigoberto Uran, Etixx-Quick Step, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11
Rigoberto Uran, Etixx-Quick Step, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Top 10

  1. Rafal Majka (POL) #45
    TINKOFF-SAX 05h 02′ 01″
  2. Daniel Martin (IRL) #167
    TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE 05h 03′ 01″ + 1:00
  3. Emanuel Buchmann (GER) #194
    BORA-ARGON 18 05h 03′ 24″ + 1:23
  4. Serge Pauwels (BEL) #218
    MTN-Qhubeka 05h 04′ 09″ + 2:08
  5. Thomas Voeckler (FRA) #129
    TEAM EUROPCAR 05h 05 ’35’ ‘ + 3:34
  6. Julien Simon (FRA)#177
    COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 05h 05 ’35’ ‘ + 3:34
  7. Bauke Mollema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 05h 07′ 12″ + 5:11
  8. Alejandro Valderde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 05h 07′ 20″ +5:19
  9. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 05h 07′ 22″+ 5:21
  10. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAX 05h 07′ 22″ + 5:2
Steve Morabito, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Steve Morabito, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 11

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 41h 03′ 31″
  2. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) #61
    BMC RACING TEAM 41h 06′ 23″+ 2:52
  3. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 41h 06′ 40″ + 3:09
  4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 41h 07′ 30″ + 3:59
  5. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 41h 07′ 34″ + 4:03
  6. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAX 41h 07′ 35″ + 4:04
  7. Tony Gallopin (FRA) #71
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 41h 08′ 04″ + 4:33
  8. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    LOTTO TEAM NL – JUMBO 41h 08′ 06″ + 4:35
  9. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN 41h 10′ 15″ + 6:44
  10. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    TREK FACTORY RACING 41h 10′ 36″ + 7:05
Tour de France 2015 Stage 11
Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 11

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM):Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Richie Porte, Team Sky
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Laurens Ten Dam, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Laurens Ten Dam, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 route map

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 profile

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 climbs

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 last km

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Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.