Majka Wins Tour de Pologne; Vandewalle Wins Time Trial
The 2014 Tour of Poland's final stage, a 25 kilometer individual time trial, took place in the heart of Kraków, with the start and finish in the spectacular marketplace square. The basic out and back course suited the specialists against the clock: a flat parcours with few corners and long straightaways.
It was a picture-perfect course for Trek Factory Racing's Kristof Vandewalle, had his sights set on the final time trial.
"This was a big win. The Nationals win for me was also nice, but it was a very hard week and this being a WorldTour race it's a big win," Vandewalle said after being celebrated on the podium.
"This morning we had a four and half hour transfer to the start, so we arrived fairly late. I rode the parcours with Bob [Jungels], and only had a half hour rest before I started my warm up. It was hard to stay motivated and concentrated on the race with such a long trip beforehand. The course had long straights up and back, with some gradual uphills, but I never lost my speed. On the way back I had really good speed and legs."
"I almost lost everything in the last corner when I almost crashed. It probably cost me two seconds, but in the end everything went right. I have to be thankful that I didn't crash. After that I had the stress of waiting until everyone came in," the Belgian rider explained.
Adriano Malori (Movistar) set the fastest time, clocking 00:29:21 until the Belgium Time Trial Champion blasted across the finish line and stopped the clock three seconds faster.
Vandewalle's time of 00:29:18 would land him in the hot seat to endure a nervous, long wait until the final riders completed the course.
"When I knew that I had beaten Malori I knew that I would have a good place. But still I was not sure because the last riders Intxausti, Izaguirre and Majka have shown really good form all week, and I was not sure at all. I really had to wait until Majka was in before I could relax and know that I had won," Vandewalle explained.
Malori held on for second place and Stephen Cummings (Team BMC Racing) rounded out the top three.
The yellow jersey battle came down to the wire. Following his two stage victories, home turf star Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) was full of confidence and made all Polish fans proud when he finished the time trial in a time that allowed him to take the overall Tour of Poland victory by eight seconds over Jon Izaguirre (Movistar). Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) held onto the podium, for third.
"This is the biggest overall win of my career," race winner Majka said. "The two stage wins in Tour de France were amazing and now I'm standing here as winner of Tour de Pologne after winning two stages in the mountains. My career has almost been turned upside down during the last months. But I know it takes even more dedication to keep the momentum and progress in the long run," Majka continued.
"I'm very satisfied with my performance on the time trial and I believe it's a promising sign for the future stage races. But the main point is that we've worked as a team throughout the entire race. We've had big ambitions and spent a lot of time in the front of the peloton."
A period of rest is now awaiting Majka, before he will engage in his final races of the 2014 season.