Leader Nibali able to tighten grip on jersey

Poland’s Rafal Majka was thrilled with his second victory of the 2014 Tour de France on stage 17 as Vincenzo Nibali further enhanced his hold on the race leader’s yellow jersey.

Poland's Rafal Majka crosses the finish line to win the 17th stage of the Tour de France.

The 124.5-kilometre route from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet was a brute, with four categorised climbs including the finishing ascent where the stage result was decided.

Majka won Saturday’s 14th stage to Risoul and recorded Tinkoff-Saxo’s second successive Pyrenean stage win, after Michael Rogers’s success on Tuesday, as the team’s strong performance since losing leader Alberto Contador to injury continued.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I’m just so happy about this result and these results that we have accomplished in the last couple of days,” said Majka, who consolidated his lead in the King of the Mountains classification.

“Today, my team-mates really worked hard for me and especially Nico (Roche) was digging hard to set me up on the final climb.

“I wasn’t so sure about managing the stage at first but (team general manager) Bjarne (Riis) told me to go for the stage and if we take the stage, we will have the (polka dot) jersey and here we are.”

Contador began the race as one of the overall favourites, but it appears no-one will challenge Nibali (Astana) for the maillot jaune now. Nibali finished third on the stage, 46 seconds behind Majka, but crucially enhancing his advantage over his rivals for the top spot on the podium in Paris on Sunday.

Second-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is five minutes 26 seconds behind entering today’s final Pyrenean stage, the 145.5km route from Pau to Hautacam.

“I’ve got a nice lead on GC (the general classification), but considering tomorrow’s stage to Hautacam and the time-trial, as I was feeling good, I’ve preferred to go and gain a few more seconds and be even more serene, just in case something would happen,” said Nibali. Valverde finished 49 seconds behind Nibali yesterday.

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) remains third, 6:00 behind Nibali, after finishing 11th.

Kristian House won the Sheffield Grand Prix last night, the penultimate round of the British elite circuit series.

Sheffield’s Adam Blythe, who won the Otley Grand Prix earlier this month, finished second in what was the last professional race for his NFTO team-mate Dean Downing of Rotherham.