Tour de France Report, Stage 11

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Photo: Bettini

Overall leader Chris Froome produced another surprise attack to gain time on his Tour de France rivals as Peter Sagan won Wednesday’s blustery 11th stage. The two star riders broke away from the peloton with a team-mate each inside the final 13km of a 162.5km stage from Carcassonne to Montpellier ridden at breakneck speed.

With Tinkoff’s Maciej Bodnar and Geraint Thomas of Sky helping their teammates, the front four quickly established a 20-second lead over a peloton that was slow to react. The move came with the sprinters’ teams trying to set up for a bunch dash to the line. But Sagan, the green jersey points leader, caught them out with a determined attack alongside his team-mate Bodnar.

Froome, 31, and his lieutenant Thomas were the only riders to react and quickly bridged over to the front two. They had just enough of a gap for Froome to gain six seconds on the line as mwell as another six bonus seconds. World champion Sagan easily won the sprint with Froome second and Bodnar third.

It means Froome now leads fellow Briton Adam Yates by 28sec with Dan Martin of Ireland third at 31sec. Froome’s main rival Nairo Quintana is fourth at 35sec. Following his break on a downhill finish to the seventh stage, where he gained 13sec along with another 10-second bonus, it was another masterstroke from Froome.

CROSSWINDS RULE THE DAY
A two-man breakaway set off onto the wide open plains on a stage where wind promised to be a complicating factor. From early on that proved the case as several crashes occurred in the
bunch, one notably involving French climber Thibaut Pinot. Australian Leigh Howard and French road race champion Arthur Vichotgallantly labored on with what was always sure to be a futile escape.

Yet the peloton felt comfortable enough to let them stretch their lead out to four and a half minutes. But when Tinkoff, Etixx and Sky put the hammer down the leaders’ gap was halved within just a few kilometers. The acceleration at the front, coupled with strong winds, saw the peloton split in two with the second group quickly drifting out to a 40-second deficit
before clawing their way back. Yet no sooner did they join up, another burst at the front caused splits all over the peloton as the leaders’ advantage tumbled quickly down to just 20 seconds with 70km left.

The end came for Howard and Vichot with just over 60km left but the pace didn’t let up until the peloton passed the intermediate sprint, which was won by Marcel Kittel from Sagan and Mark Cavendish. The slowing in pace allowed the distanced riders to latch back on to form one compact peloton with 35km left. But the pace went up again 15km from the end with Sagan’s attack that again split the peloton all over the road.

RESULTS

Stage
1. Peter Sagan (SVK/TIN) 3hrs 26min 23sec
2. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) at 0:00.
3. Maciej Bodnar (POL/TIN) 0:00.
4. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/KAT) 0:06.
5. Christophe Laporte (FRA/COF) 0:06.
6. Jasper Stuyven (BEL/TRE) 0:06.
7. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/DDT) 0:06.
8. André Greipel (GER/LOT) 0:06.
9. Sondre Enger (NOR/IAM) 0:06.
10. Oliver Naesen (BEL/IAM) 0:06.
11. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA/DDT) 0:06.
12. John Degenkolb (GER/GIA) 0:06.
13. Dylan Groenewegen (NED/LNL) 0:06.
14. Daniel McLay (GBR/FVC) 0:06.
15. Adam Yates (GBR/ORI) 0:06.
16. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/TIN) 0:06.
17. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 0:06.
18. Simon Gerrans (AUS/ORI) 0:06.
19. Shane Archbold (NZL/BOA) 0:06.
20. Oscar Gatto (ITA/TIN) 0:06.

Overall
1. Chris Froome (GBR/Sky) 52hrs 34min 37sec
2. Adam Yates (GBR/ORI) at 0:28.
3. Daniel Martin (IRL/ETI) 0:31.
4. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 0:35.
5. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) 0:56.
6. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 0:56.
7. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) 0:56.
8. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 1:13.
9. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 1:13.
10. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/TIN) 1:28.
11. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 1:35.
12. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 1:52.
13. Louis Meintjies (RSA/LAM) 2:10.
14. Richie Porte (AUS/BMC) 2:22.
15. Warren Barguil (FRA/GIA) 3:03.
16. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 3:32.
17. Pierre Rolland (FRA/CAN) 5:16.
18. Wilco Kelderman (NED/LNL) 5:54.
19. Sébastien Reichenbach (SWI/FDJ) 6:37.
20. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BMC) 6:50.

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