Tony Gallopin attacked twice, once on the final ascent and again within 2km of the finish, to take his maiden Tour de France victory, which he adds to his glorious day in the leader’s jersey on stage 10.
Sprint or break?
It was a bit of both for Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) who was with a small select group when he confidently attacked on the final climb and managed to put a bit of distance between himself and the pursuing group of Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQS) and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo). Catching him on the descent, the group continued to drive the pace on the flat. With 2km to go, Gallopin surged again, leaving the others to size each other up. With Sagan refusing to lead Kwiatkowski to victory and the others refusing to give Sagan a tow to the line, the trio was swallowed up by the chasing sprint pack, led by Giant-Shimano’s John Degenkolb. Gallopin, however, was already giving the victory salute as he recorded a second French victory and his team’s second win of this Tour.
The main contenders all finished safely in the bunch except for Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) who dropped from 9th to 14th. None of the jerseys changed hands.
Sagan, so near and yet so far!
The green jersey is all about consistency and that surely is what Peter Sagan has been, with seven top five placings so far this Tour. With no stage win as of yet, today’s parcours looked like the perfect opportunity for him to give a Wolverine-style victory salute. So intent on the win, he didn’t contest the intermediate sprint with his usual competitiveness, as he clearly wanted to keep something back for the finish.
Using his seven teammates to help Astana pull back the stage’s three-man break and to set the pace on the day’s penultimate climb, he demonstrated some discipline and held his usual impetuosity in check on Gallopin’s first attack, waiting for the descent to bridge up to him. But when Gallopin attacked a second time, Sagan called everyone’s bluff and declined to give Kwiatkowski a chance to pip him at the post.
The frustration must be building for the Slovak rider who, in the past, has seemingly won stages at will. Stage 12’s profile, however, looks like a good chance for him to take his first stage if he gets the edge on the final two small climbs.
— Katusha Team (@katushacycling) 16 Juillet 2014
Team Katusha and Joaquim Rodriguez have shown admirable restraint – well done!
VeloVoices rider of the day
Bravo to Tony Gallopin whose attacks were reminiscent of his first big victory last year in the Clasica San Sebastian. He showed remarkable restraint and plenty of confidence, only to be expected from a man who’d done a reconnaissance of today’s stage. Planning and preparation win out!
Spare a thought, however, for Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) who demonstrated that “Pit Bull” mentality by riding most of the stage on his lonesome with only the broom wagon for company. At one point, he succumbed to the pain of the injuries of the last few days and got off the bike. A pep talk from his directeur sportif Robbie Hunter soon had him back pedalling to the finish, within the time-cut – down but not out. Many think he should have been awarded most combative rider instead of the day’s recipient, Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Stage 11 result
1. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) 4:25:45
2. John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) same time
3. Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) s/t
4. Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) s/t
5. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 46:59:23
2. Richie Porte (Sky) +2:23
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +2:47
4. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +3:01
5. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) +3:12
6. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +3:47
7. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) +3:56
8. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) +3:57
9. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) +4:08
10. Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) +4:18
Points leader: Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
King of the Mountains leader: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
Best young rider: Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale).
Team classification: Ag2r La Mondiale.