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TOUR DE FRANCE

CYCLING

Majka wins Alps as Nibali pulls away from rivals

Rafal Majka made up for the disappointment of finishing second on Friday by winning Saturday's 14th stage of the Tour de France as Vincenzo Nibali continued to distance his rivals.

Majka wins Alps as Nibali pulls away from rivals
Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

Pole Majka broke away from an 11-strong escape group on the final first category climb to Risoul and managed to hold off a charging Nibali to win the 177km Alpine stage from Grenoble.

It was a welcome relief for Majka having been reeled in and passed by Nibali on Friday's first stage in the Alps, but also for his Tinkoff-Saxo team after losing leader Alberto Contador to injury.

"This morning I spoke with my teammates because yesterday I was second and I spoke also with the team and (manager) Bjarne (Riise) and I said if I get in the breakaway I will win the stage," said the 24-year-old Majka.

"At the bottom of the final climb we had an advantage of 1min 10sec over the peloton and I attacked and I dropped everyone, (Joaquim) Rodriguez and the Cannondale rider (Alessandro De Marchi) and I tried to win alone.

"When the gap was 35sec with 2km left to the finish I kept my motivation and fought for the stage win."

Majka held on to win by 24sec to Nibali with 37-year-old Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud coming over the line just two seconds later.

Nibali had attacked his rivals in the overall standings inside the final 4km and as he rode away the true battle for the podium places really started to hot up.

Second placed Alejandro Valverde started to struggle around 2km from home, allowing young French pair Thibaut Pinto and Romain Bardet, as well as American Tejay Van Garderen, to gain time as they came in fifth through seventh.

Valverde rolled over the line in 10th and lost 30 seconds to Van Garderen and 34 seconds to the two Frenchmen.

The Spanish veteran drifted out to 4:37 behind Nibali but the next four riders behind him — Bardet, Pinot, Van Garderen and Peraud — are all within 1:30.

"Nibali is the strongest but there's nothing in it between the rest of us," said Valverde.

After struggling with Friday's heat, as temperatures reached around 35C, Peraud said he'd got his strength back on Saturday.

"I rediscovered the feelings I had in the Vosges. It wasn't so hot and suffocating today and when there's air, I can breath," said the AG2R teammate of Bardet.

"With Romain we were supposed to attack on the final climb but Nibali beat us to it, so I went with him."

That was a smart move as it allowed him to gain time on the four riders directly above him.

Nibali had won the three previous uphill finishes in this race and when he started to close in on Majka, it looked like he might maintain a 100 percent record on the summits.

But he said that wasn't his aim.

"When I attacked I tried to gain time, I saw that with a 50-second lead it would be difficult to catch Majka for the victory," said the 29-year-old Italian.

"I tried to manage the situation and just put some time into Valverde and the other rivals.

"I felt good so I could try something and things went well."

The day had begun with a 17-man breakaway quite early on which had been reduced to 10 by the top of the second of three categorised climbs, the hors category Col d'Izoard — the highest point in this year's race at 2,360m.

They had a gap to the peloton of around 3min then but the bunch closed in to just over a minute behind by the start of the final ascent to Risoul.

Another breakaway companion had got back on by then but immediately the attacks started, firstly from De Marchi and Rodriguez, but then Majka swept past everyone.

Unlike the previous day's stage when he and Leopold Konig were caught by Nibali, this time the Pole had the strength to go all the way to the end.

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TRAIN

What are the rules on taking your bike on the train in France?

The French government is keen to encourage cycling and has published a decree relating to bike commuting, but travelling on a train with a bike can still be quite complicated.

What are the rules on taking your bike on the train in France?
Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Can I commute with my bike? 

The French government is keen to encourage ‘multimode’ commuting – or people who cycle part of the way to work and take the train or bus for the rest.

On June 10th 2021, it published a decree which makes it mandatory for SNCF train stations and Paris’ RATP stations which have high numbers of passengers to provide secured parking spaces for bikes by 2024. This obligation concerns 1,133 train stations, which represent 37 percent of all train stations in France. 

How can I carry my bike on the train?

When it comes to taking a bike on longer train journeys, the rules vary depending on the type of train you are using. 

You can bring your bike, without having to disassemble it, on every TER (regional train) for free and without having to make a reservation, but keep in mind that space is limited. Since March 2021, every new trains or trains that are being renovated must have at least 8 spaces for bikes on board. 

Some TGVs (high-speed trains) and most Intercités (non high-speed national trains) offer a possibility to take your bike aboard, and in those where you can, you must make a reservation online or at the train station when you buy your ticket. 

THIS MAP allows you to check all the main long distance train lines that allow bikes on board.

When to take the train with your bike? 

In TERs, spaces for bikes are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be booked, therefore it’s better not to travel during rush hours. 

You’ll find special information about when and how to travel with your bike on TGVs and Intercités on the SNCF website. 

How to reserve a spot for your bike?

For TERs, making a reservation is not possible. 

For TGVs and Intercités, if you want to travel with an assembled bike, you must make a reservation for a dedicated spot when you buy your ticket on the website Oui.sncf . The price to add a bike on a TGV starts from 10€ and from 5€ on an Intercités. Adding a bike after you bought your ticket is not possible. 

Also, it’s important to note that you won’t be able to reserve a space for your bike when you  make a reservation from your phone on the app Oui.sncf. You can add a bike from your phone with the app Trainline

How to carry a disassembled bike?

You can carry your bike in every SNCF trains as long as it is disassembled in a bag which dimensions doesn’t exceed 90x120cm. In this case, it is considered hand luggage. 

Are trailers, tandems and cargo bikes allowed? 

Only regular bikes are accepted on trains. Carrying recumbent bikes, tricycles, tandems or trailers is not allowed. Only one train makes an exception during summer: the train Loire à Vélo, a train that goes from Nevers in the Center of France to the Atlantic Coast

Special info and tips if you want to travel by train with your bike this summer 

On the line Bretagne / TER : From June 7th to September 30th 2021, making a reservation for your bike to travel on a TER in the Bretagne région is mandatory. You will have to pay 3€ per bike and you can only reserve a ticket that includes a bike on the website

Travelling with the Train Loire à Vélo : This train that goes from the city of Orléans to Le Croisic on the Atlantic Coast is back on track. The ride is free and you don’t have to make a reservation for your bike. 

The Nouvelle-Aquitaine / La Vélodyssée service : In the Nouvelle Aquitaine region which includes Bordeaux and Biarritz, a special TER service with bikes allowed will be working from mid-July to August 2021. It will be free and without reservation, you can find some info on this map

On the line ViaRhôna / TER Lyon – Avignon : From July 3rd to September 19th, it will be possible to travel between the cities of Lyon and Avignon by train with your bike but only during week-ends and bank holidays. You must make a reservation and the price per bike will be of 3€.

La Véloscénie :  is a special itinerary for people who want to cycle between Paris and the Mont Saint-Michel and visit different places along the journey. From May to September the line from Paris to Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel embarks your bikes for free. 

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