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by Neal Rogers
July 13, 2017
In today’s Daily News Digest: Another sprint, another victory for Kittel, who takes fifth stage of Tour de France; Brennauer off to winning start in Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour; Tough day at Tour for Astana: Feed zone crash takes out Cataldo as Fuglsang fractures wrist, elbow; Oh-so-close for Bodnar on Stage 11 of Tour de France; Groenewegen keeps improving, finishes second behind Kittel in Pau; Contador struggling to reconcile recurring bad luck at Tour de France; Stranger Tour? Sagan promotes Netflix as he readies to ‘race in the upside down’; Video: GoPro’s Tour de France Stage 11 highlights; Video: Backstage Pass with Orica-Scott at Stage 10 of the Tour de France; Video: What’s it like to be a mechanic at the Tour de France?
Even with stars Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka out of the race, Bora-Hansgrohe continues to animate the race. One day after German sprinter Rudi Selig finished fourth in the bunch sprint, Polish strongman Maciej Bodnar was off the front of the race, soloing to the finish only to be caught with 242 metres to the line.
Escaping at kilometre zero, the Polish time trial specialist rode the whole 203.5km stage off the front, before going solo with 28km remaining. While Bodnar was denied the stage win, he took the day’s well-deserved combativity prize for his effort.
As the gap hit thirty seconds, Bodnar left fellow escapees Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates) behind, pushing his advantage back out 50 seconds. Coming into the final 10km, he had 40 seconds in hand, riding out of his skin to hold the peloton at bay. Past the Flamme Rouge and with just over 200m of the race left, he was finally caught, with Quick-Step Floors sprinter Marcel Kittel taking the stage.
“I felt I had really good legs today and jumped in the breakaway from the start,” he said. “The three of us collaborated and thanks to them we all worked together well. When the gap was down to about forty seconds, I decided to go alone and try my chances for a stage win. I was slowing down a little in the last 10km and the wind was a problem, but I still had a bit of a lead on the peloton. In the end it was so close – just a few hundred metres – but what can I do? I tried my best. With 2km to go, the bunch still hadn’t caught me, they were about 200 metres behind me, and I was starting to think I could do it, but the last 400 metres were really hard for me. The bunch was going really fast, so that was that – just 10 seconds more and I’d have taken it. It was a hard day. In the last 3km we were going at a furious pace – it was like sprinting from every corner.”
Team director Patxi Vila was thrilled with Bodnar’s ride. “He was so close. That was our plan in the morning, to send Bodnar or Burghardt in the early breakaway and let them try their chances. We thought the group would be bigger, but still, Bodi was in good form and went for it,” he explained. “He rode very well and when the gap from the bunch was down to about 30-40 seconds we thought that it was now or never. Bodi went on his own and the last 10km were nail biting. There were moments I thought he could make it and others when I thought it was all over. Still, to be caught in the final 250m after nearly 205km in the breakaway, of which 30km were alone, is a great achievement. We had a tough start in this Tour, but the spirit is high in the team.”