LiveTour de France 2014 stage 14 as it happened

Summary

  1. Stage 14: Grenoble - Risoul, 177km
  2. Rafal Majka wins stage, Vincenzo Nibali second
  3. Italy's Nibali extends overall race lead
  4. Spain's Alejandro Valverde second, Romain Bardet third

Live Reporting

By Peter Scrivener

Get Involved

And that feels like a decent place to end today's live. I'll be back from the slightly later time of 14:00 BST on Sunday for the final knockings of stage 15, a relatively flat 222km race from Tallard to Nimes which should end in a bunch sprint.

Geraint Thomas has already said he's pretty tired and expects to spend most of the day sheltering in the peloton. Here's how he sees the race shaping up:

"I can't see anything other than a bunch sprint in Nimes. The General Classification riders and their teams will be taking it easy after a couple of tough days in the mountains. For the sprinters' teams of Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel though, this will be a day to be near the front trying to set up their man. There's only two other stages for the sprinters to shine and with a rest day to follow, they can afford to go full gas."

Tour de France

After such a disappointing race from a British point of view with defending champion Chris Froome and sprint king Mark Cavendish crashing out in the opening week, it was great to see Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates get in the break today.

Although both faltered on the final climb, Orica GreenEdge's Yates came in just over three minutes down in 21st, while Team Sky's Thomas was 29th overall, six minutes, 37 seconds back, it was a tremendous effort from the pair, particularly Thomas who spent much of the break on the front.

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"The way that Majka's riding at the moment, I wouldn't put it past him to take the polka dot jersey. Rodriguez really did look like he was struggling today."

King of the Mountains

Polkadot Jersey

Classification

Despite finishing 31st on today's stage, Joaquim 'Purito' Rodriguez did just enough by winning the first two climbs to take back the polka dot jersey.

1. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa/Katusha) 88

2. Rafal Majka (Pol/Tinkoff-Saxo) 88

3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 86

4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ) 49

5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) 40

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"I think Simon Yates has the potential to win stage races. The one thing I don't know about him is his time-trialling ability. I can't imagine him staying in this race, I think Orica GreenEdge will pull him out, because he's so young."

General classification after stage 14

Yellow Jersey

Classification

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 61hrs 52mins 54secs

2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +4mins 37secs

3. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +4mins 50secs

4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ) +5mins 06secs

5. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) +5mins 49secs

Stage 14 result

1. Rafal Majka (Pol/Tinkoff - Saxo) 5hrs 08mins 28secs

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) +24secs

3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) +26secs

4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ) +50secs

5. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) Same time

6. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) +54secs

7. Fraenk Schleck (Lux/Trek) +1min 01secs

8. Laurens ten Dam (Ned/Belkin) +1min07secs

9. Leopold Koenig (Cze/NetApp) +1min 20secs

10. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +1min 24secs

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"I love that three of the top six are French, it's great for the race. They are riding out of their skins. Froome and Contador are out, Quintana isn't here, but you can only beat what's in front of you. They deserve to be riding at the pointy end of this race."

Some words from our stage winner Rafal Majka: "This is my first victory and maybe it's not finished, get in another long breakaway and try win another stage. This is a victory for Alberto Contador because we came here trying to win the Tour for him."

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"I thought Nibali could have afforded to sit back today, but he attacked out of the group, and that was what really put the pressure on Valverde. I actually think Valverde did a good job in limiting his losses to the riders chasing him - Bardet, Pinot, Van Garderen. I don't really know what to say about Nibali, other than he is by far the strongest rider in this race."

Majka's maiden Tour win

Getty Images

A few days before the Tour de France, Rafal Majka, who was sixth at the Giro d'Italia and wasn't scheduled to race the Tour, said on Twitter that he was not ready and it was not right to put the 24-year-old in for two consecutive Grand Tours.

I wonder if the Polish Tinkoff-Saxo rider has changed his mind.

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Another incredible stage, a tough day with the climbs that we had. There was a lot of damage done on the Col d'Izoard. AG2R did all the damage on the descent and that created havoc in the group behind. Geraint Thomas did all the work on the front for Nieve, but unfortunately for Team Sky, it didn't work, again."

White Jersey

Classification

Romain Bardet is in the best young rider's white jersey and has a 16-second lead over Thibaut Pinot. But Pinot wants to make a point and puts in a sprint finish to beat his compatriot, not that it will make any difference in the standings.

Nibali second

Vincenzo Nibali stays clear of Peraud to claim second and there is an almighty battle for fourth between the two Frenchmen chasing the white jersey.

Rafal Majka is inside the final 300m and he has a huge smile on his face - he knows he has won this stage and the thousands of fans on top of the mountain are giving him a tremendous reception.

Rob Hatch

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"Nibali is going to become a bit unpopular if he keeps winning so many stages. He's riding up to Majka, the gap is coming down very, very heavily. He's winning this Tour de France right here. right now."

Final kilometre

Just 1km to go for Majka. Can he take his first stage win on his debut Tour? He is 35 seconds clear of Nibali. Rather than chasing a fourth stage win of this Tour, maybe Nibali will be content to put more time into his rivals for the overall race win.

Rob Hatch

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"Valverde is really suffering here, he's finally cracked. The fight for the podium is on, and Bardet, Thibaut Pinot and Tejay Van Gardern are riding away from him."

Nibali is pushing hard and has reduced the deficit to 34 seconds as he goes under the 2km to go banner. Peraud is happy in his wheel and will take the tow to the finish line.

What of Rodriguez? He has cracked and slipped back down the field.

Valverde has also cracked. Van Garderen, Pinot and Bardet are off in pursuit of Nibali. Sensational scenes with riders attacking all over the mountain.

Rob Hatch

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"Nibali just drifted towards the back of the group, had a look at everybody's faces, saw a lot of suffering, and decided to put in the dig. At the moment, Peraud is the only one who can go with him."

In the peloton

Eventually Alejandro Valverde responds and he is joined by Tejay van Garderen and Thibaut Pinot and Roman Bardet make it a foursome.

Majka is just 2.5km from the summit but Nibali's effort has reduced his advantge to just 47 seconds. This stage is far from over.

Nibali attacks

With 4km remaining Nibali attacks. He goes from several riders back to take everyone bar Peraud by surprise.

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Purito Rodriguez has to fight - Majka is up in the top five of the King of the Mountains classification. De Marchi isn't going to give him a turn though - he just cannot come through on him."

Pierre Rolland is the answer. He jumps a few bike lengths clear but Jean-Christophe Peraud of AG2R covers the move and the rest of the bunch ride tempo back on to their wheels.

Majka is continuing on his lonely ride to the summit. He has a 69-second lead with 4km remaining.

In the peloton

Nibali has no Astana team-mates left with him, but then, as he showed on Friday, he doesn't necessarily need them. An AG2R rider continues to pace Romain Bardet, with NIbali sitting in his wheel and Movistar's Alejandro Valverde following the Italian, who will make the first move?

Rob Hatch

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"Simon Yates has outlasted the Team Sky boys, what an incredible ride by him today. The AG2R machine is just sending riders off the back of the peloton. If AG2R and Movistar can agree on something, they could put Nibali in a bit of trouble here."

A quick chapeau for Britain's Simon Yates. His day out front is finally over 5.5km from the summit as he is caught by the yellow jersey group. A tremendous ride nonetheless by the 21-year-old Orica GreenEdge rider.

In the break

Joaquim Rodriguez is grimacing and it looks like he's not going to get the stage win he covets. His main aim will be to finish close enough to Nibali to ensure he takes the polka dot King of the Mountains jersey outright.

Rob Hatch

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"Mikel Nieve is going to be swallowed up by the rest of the peloton. Team Sky played their cards today, but after all that work, they aren't going to get the best out of this stage. Not a good day again for Team Sky."

In the break

De Marchi finds some energy and is back on the wheel of Rodriguez. I can't see him doing too much work though. They are 19 seconds behind Majka, the Tinkoff-Saxo rider who finished second on Friday's opening Alpine stage. Just 6.5km to ride.

In the break

Rafal Majka bridges the gap to De Marchi, pats the Italian on the backside as he rides past him, indicating that he should get in his wheel. De Marchi can't match the Polish rider's pace though.

Coming up on the blind side is Purito. The polka dot wearing Spaniard whizzes past De Marchi and sets off in pursuit of Majka, who leads Nibali's group by just 38 seconds.

In the break

Lampre's Jose Serpa goes with De Marchi and the two have opened a significant gap on the rest of their fellow escapees. De Marchi attacks again and this time Serpa has no answer.

He still has 9km to the summit though and just a 42-second lead over Vincenzo Nibali, who you feel could just take a fourth stage win if he wants to.

In the peloton

Here goes Alessandro De Marchi. The Italian knows this climb well and has decided he has the legs to go for the victory.

No reaction from Geraint Thomas who is riding tempo with Team Sky team-mate Nieve in his wheel. And as I type that, Geraint drops away to the side. Big effort by the Welshman. Can Nieve finish it off?

10km to go.

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Richie Porte is losing the wheels at the back of the peloton, he's really struggling and the climb hasn't even started. That's not a good sign whatsoever."

Porte faltering

There is the sign to mark the start of the final climb to Risoul. Just 12.6km remaining on a slope with an average gradient of 6.9%. AG2R chug on to the descent like a TGV train and immediately chop 20 seconds off the advantage of the leaders.

The pace is so high that riders immediately drop out the back - Richie Porte is one of the more noticeable names and he is facing a long and lonely ride to the summit.

In the break

Britain's Geraint Thomas is back on the front of the race but his efforts are proving fruitless as AG2R continue to put the hammer down on the road to Guillestre. There is just 65 seconds between the two groups as the bare down on the bottom of the final climb.

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"AG2R are desperate to try and bring this back. They're going to empty everything on these flat roads, and then when we get to the climb, I feel sure a couple of them are going to peel off to the side of the road."

Rob Hatch

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"From the front group, I can't see past Purito Rodriguez or Mikel Nieve for the stage win. Sky are the only group with two riders in the breakaway - they have the tactical flexibility of having both Geraint Thomas and Nieve up there."

In the peloton

The AG2R train is doing the damage in the peloton. They have the white jersey of best young rider Romain Bardet in their ranks. He is third in the overall standings as well. Bardet is four minutes, 24 seconds adrift of Nibali, does he fancy a stage win today and clawing back some time on the race leader?

Racing to Risoul

As Rob says that though, Tejay latches back on to the group with Nibali. His BMC Racing team-mates have done a terrific job in pacing him down the mountain and with 23km remaining the peloton is reformed.

This is going to be a fascinating ascent to Risoul. It has never been used in the Tour before, but was the finishing place of the 2013 Criterium du Dauphine.

A certain Alessandro De Marchi won that day and the Italian is still in today's break. Surely his legs will be shot from yesterday's effort though? The lead is down to 90 seconds with 18km remaining.

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Tejay van Garderen was fifth this morning, he's the big loser in the general classification today. He looked good yesterday, but he hasn't descended well at all."

In the break

Just 25km remaining on stage 14, the second half of that is all uphill though. British duo Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates are firmly ensconced in the 11-men out front as they descend into Guillestre, where the final ascent to Risoul will commence.

They are leading a bunch of about 11 riders, which features, Nibali, Fuglsang et al by 107 seconds.

The chasers

There are huge gaps forming in the peloton as the descending specialists fly down the mountain like madmen. Nibali is chancing his arm bunny-hopping over a tiny ridge in the middle of the road through the village of Arvieux.

AG2R's Romain Bardet and Jean-Christophe Peraud, Astana's Jakob Fuglsang and Movistar's Alejandro Valverde are all in the group with Nibali and they are just two minutes behind the leaders.

Rob Hatch

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"I wouldn't be surprised if Vincenzo Nibali chose to take it on here. He's such a good descender. But Valverde does not want to let Nibali out of his sight, so he will drop like a stone on this descent."

The next 30km is pretty much all downhill before the race goes uphill for one final time in the Alps to tackle the climb to Risoul. The peloton is led over the top by Astana, two minutes and 58 seconds behind Rodriguez.

What will the tactics be for Nibali? Does he fancy an easy ride to the finish? The closest rider to him in terms of time in the front bunch is Geraint Thomas and he is more than 14 minutes back. Surely Valverde has to attack at some point?

Rob Hatch

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"Alessandro de Marchi is looking good, and he has good recent history with this final climb. We had a stage finish of the 2013 Dauphine here, and that was the day that De Marchi surprised Froome, Talansky, Porte, Fuglsang, all those people."

Points for Purito

Polkadot Jersey

Classification

But here comes Rodriguez and the Spaniard cruises over the line to pick up 25 points and that puts Purito in the virtual polka dot jersey.

Polkadot Jersey

Classification

Nieve comes up alongside Thomas and gives him a bottle. Just 10 riders left in the lead bunch as they approach the summit at 2.360m. Rafal Majka suddenly takes over at the front. Britain's Simon Yates is still up there, which is a terrific effort by the 21-year-old.

In the break

The leaders are just 1km from the roof of the Tour. Who is going to get the Souvenir Henri Desgrange? There is no doubting that Britain's Geraint Thomas deserves it for the way he has dragged everyone up the mountain but you know Joaquim Rodriguez is ready to kick.

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"The pressure is completely off Team Sky now. They can just go for stage wins. It sounds bizarre, but I think Geraint Thomas is having fun today, and the fact that Nicholas Roche has dropped off the front group just shows how much pressure he's putting on."

In the break

Geraint Thomas is doing a lot of work on the front of the leading bunch, is he pacing for Team Sky team-mate Mikel Nieve? His efforts are keeping the leaders three minutes clear of the peloton.

The Welshman puffs his cheeks out as he tries to keep the pace high. Nieve is three riders back and has Rodriguez in his wheel.

Rob Hayles

Former Great Britain cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"The big winner in this leading group is Joaquim Rodriguez. He scored the maximum 10 points on the first climb and there are still 45 to go. Twenty-five for the first to the top of Izoard and the last climb is a category one but because it is a summit finish, it's double points, so 20 more there. Purito will be looking to get himself in the polka dot jersey outright."

Live now

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

Rob Hatch and Rob Hayles have just begun their live commentary of the closing 50km of today's stage in the Alps. Tune in via the link at the top of this page. UK readers only I'm afraid.

In the break

Just 7km to the summit of the Col d'Izoard and the leaders have a lead of more than three minutes again. Hundreds of campervans line the roadside with Swiss, Slovakian and British flags fluttering among the dozens of French tricolores.

In the break

There are still 15 men in the break. Peter Sagan and Albert Timmer are the men who have dropped away. Mikel Nieve of Team Sky stretches his legs off the front of the leaders.

The good news for those out front is that they have repelled the NetApp Endura charge. The final one of their trio who were pushing the pace on the front peloton has dropped away, leaving Nibali's Astana team to take over. How much are they prepared to chase?

In the peloton

NetApp Endura are down to two men at the front of the peloton and their exertions on the descent of Lautaret, through Briancon and up the early part of the Izoard climb are starting to show.

Their deficit to the diminishing bunch out front is about three minutes with 55km remaining.

Porte's plans

There has been no sight of Team Sky's Richie Porte today. The Australian spoke to French TV before today's race: "Yesterday was a terrible day for me. But the Tour is not over. I'm not in super form today either but there will be other difficult stages next week.

"Maybe I can still save something and make something out of this Tour. It's not up to me to attack Nibali anymore. GC is over for me but a stage win might still be possible."

Absolutely stunning scenery in the Alps as the peloton continues to give chase to those in the breakaway.

Getty Images

Nightmare for Demare

French champion Arnaud Demare is back at the doctor's car. He is doing a canny bit of freewheeling uphill while he takes some medical advice, suddenly remembering that he should perhaps at least look like he is still making an effort and turns the pedals over a couple of times.