Rafal Majka doubled up at the Tour of Poland to claim the yellow jersey on the penultimate stage, soloing to victory in Bukowina.
Having taken victory on stage five in Slovakia the previous day, Polish star Majka – who won the King of the Mountains title at the Tour de France – gave his home fans plenty to cheer with another showcase of his climbing skills.
Benat Intxausti and Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) crossed ten seconds down in second and third respectively to keep the general classification open, but Majka ensured he will at least be wearing yellow for the final stage time trial.
Attacks were the order of the day on a stage packed with difficult climbs, with a strong group going clear very early on.
Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEDGE), fresh from his unsuccessful solo attempt the previous day, was one of the riders in that group, alongside Damiano Caruso (Cannondale).
King of the Mountains winner Macierj Paterski (CCC Polsat Polkowice) was also up the road, alongside Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Sergey Lagutin (RusVelo) and Sergei Chernetskii (Katusha).
They were able to build a small lead, but ‘The Wall’ soon took its toll as the gap tumbled on the many ascents of the brutal ascent.
Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) attempted to bridge as the gap fell, but Tinkoff-Saxo led the chase behind, bringing the gap right down.
An ever-decreasing peloton, packed with the GC contenders, swept up the men in the break with Meier, Vuillermoz and Caruso the last to be caught with 23 kilometres remaining.
The race coming together immediately sparked the attacks and counter-attacks from the select front group however, Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) attacking and dragging Majka, Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) and Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) with him.
Wout Poels (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Robert Gesink and Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin Pro Cycling) and Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) joined them but Petr Vakoc’s yellow jersey group kept them at close quarters as the final climb drew near.
The group came back together for the punishing ascent, but with Tinkoff-Saxo setting the pace – Majka sitting at second wheel – Vakoc was finally dropped to signal the end of his run in the yellow jersey.
Back up the road, Majka continued on the front of the bunch before accelerating with 2.5 kilometres to go, with only Izaguirre able to go with him.
Majka earned the gap however, and powered quickly putting several bike lengths into his rivals.
Izaguirre and Movistar team-mate Benat Intxausti rallied behind however to chase hard together – Majka looking over his shoulder and realising he would have company at the head of the general classification ahead of the stage seven time trial.
Undeterred, however, Majka pushed on in front of his home fans to seal his second consecutive stage win and move into the yellow jersey.
He now boasts an 18-second lead over Intxausti, but with the Movistar duo more-than capable in the time trial it remains anybody’s race ahead of the final day.
Tour of Poland 2014: stage six – result
1) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo – 4.40.58hrs
2) Benat Intxausti (ESP) – Movistar +10”
3) Jon Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar – ST
4) Christophe Riblon (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +19”
5) Przemyslaw Niemiec (POL) – Lampre-Merida +20”
6) Wout Poels (NED) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – ST
7) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Giant-Shimano
8) Robert Gesink (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling
9) Giampaolo Caruso (ITA) – Katusha
10) Gianluca Brambilla (ITA) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +26”
1) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo – 29.46.17hrs
2) Benat Intxausti (ESP) – Movistar +18”
3) Jon Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar +22”
4) Christophe Riblon (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +39”
5) Giampaolo Caruso (ITA) – Katusha +40”
6) Robert Gesink (NED) – Belkin – ST
7) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Giant-Shimano
8) Przemyslaw Niemiec (POL) – Lampre-Merida
9) Gianluca Brambilla (ITA) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +46”
10) Marek Rutkiewicz (POL) – CCC Polsat Polkowice +47”