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Double stage winner and King of the Mountains in the Tour de France after his first-ever participation in the event, Polish rider Rafal Majka has made clear that he wants to top the final podium during a three week race.
“We experienced ups and downs but I really found myself on the climbs of this year’s Tour de France,” Majka said, speaking after the announcement that his time with the team would be extended.
“I need to learn more and get more experience but my ambition is to aim for the overall win in the Grand Tours in the future. I have very strong teammates and really skilled sport directors to support me all the way.”
The 24 year old rider highlighted his talent by netting seventh and sixth in the 2013 and 2014 Giri d’Italia. He moved to the team in 2011 and still had a year left on his current deal; however his strong Tour de France prompted the team to reward him and to also move to ensure he wasn’t snapped up by another squad.
It tore up the remaining one year contract and instead offered him a three year deal. In addition to giving him greater long-term security, it will presumably feature improved financial terms as a result of his Tour success.
“I’m very happy to announce that we’ve extended Rafal’s contract,” said general manager Bjarne Riis in confirming the deal. “He still had one year left of his contract but he deserved to get an extension after his efforts this year and during the Tour. He has developed solidly and quickly during the last seasons. I know how hard Rafal has worked during the season and he definitely deserves a spot on the team.”
Majka is a team-mate of double Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and may well be required to ride for him at times. However he is several years younger and should have a lot longer in the sport. In the short term this may well lead him to being needed to ride for Contador in the Tour plus several other races, but beyond that he might ultimately find himself as the sole leader in cycling’s biggest event.
Riis said that he has full faith in him. “The way Rafal performed during the Tour coming out of a hard Giro shows that it’s realistic to aim for the podiums in the Grand Tours,” he said. “He is still young and he can still improve and become even better, but he’ll be a key rider for us.”
Team owner Oleg Tinkov agrees, pointing out that the rider is still very young yet is able to excel. “He obviously has a great future ahead of him. It’s a pleasure for the team to have such a skilled rider like Rafa for the next three years.
“He’s capable of winning Grand Tours some day and I’m absolutely sure that our team is the best place for him to develop and to get experience.”
Majka said that he was glad to stay and believed that the additional contract was a reward for the work he had already done. “I’ve trained so seriously and determined this season and I’ve received a lot of advice and support from Bjarne, Oleg, the sport directors and my teammates,” he said.
“This is the right team for me to improve even more.”