Stage 11 of 2020 Tour de France delivered a doozy of a four-up sprint finish, victory number two for Lotto-Soudal’s speedster Caleb Ewan, relegation for Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe), a firmer grasp on the maillot vert for Sam Bennett (Deceuninck -Quickstep) and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) being, well… Wout Van Aert.
The final opportunity for the sprinters to strut their stuff before Paris was always going to be a test of nerves. The tension ratcheted up in the last 10km as teams vied for the front position on roads that turned narrower and twistier.
With 6km to go BORA-hansgrohe put into action a cunning plan to increase the chances of Peter Sagan taking victory and maximum green jersey points by launching solo attack specialist Lukas Postlburger up the road. He was joined by the Quickstepper express train of Kasper Asgreen and Bob Jungels and it looked like the trio would go all the way until they hit the ramps of the nasty little 4% kicker in the finale.
Under the flamme rouge and it was every sprinter and Wout Van Aert for himself. HOLY MOLY it’s edge of your seat time as ITV 4’s Ned Boulting calls them home.
Caleb Ewan came from nowhere to first in the space of 350m! Powered level with Bennett with the final pedal strokes and took it with a bike throw. Cool as you like.
Love this moment
The finish line photo showed Sagan just pipping Bennett for second place and those all important points that would reduce his deficit to the green jersey. However, the slow-mo of the melee at the finish showed the Slovakian had made room for his sprint by shoulder barging Wout Van Aert.
The Belgian finished 4th and was clearly not amused
The race jury did not take long to reach a decision – relegation and points docked for Sagan. Swiss franc fines all round.
These race defining moments are not clear cut. Was the sprint dangerous? Sagan appeared to have the room to come up on the inside of Wout – without barging for more room. The dreadful images from Fabio Jakobsen’s sprint in the Tour of Poland remain etched on our minds
Sprinting has always had this part to the craft. Taylor Phinney sums it up well (how marvellous to have him back on Twitter -Ed)
Where does this leave the battle for the Green Jersey?
Could it be there’s a change a-coming in Paris?
Suggestion for an addition to the cycling lexicon.
To Van Aert (verb) – to be capable of pulling rabbits from top hats at will.
Keep your leader safe in a crazy finale? YES
Stay at the front when the sprint teams rev it up? YES
Launch you sprint with 400m to go and only fail to grab your third victory by a Slovakian shoulder charge? YES
Happy Birthday Lennard
A day among sunflowers, what could be better?
The Last Words
Le Tour est Le Tour
you heard it here first
Stage 10 Top 5
1 Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) 4:00:01
2 Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step) same time
3 Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) s/t
4 Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) s/t
5 Clement Venturini (AG2R-La Mondiale) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 46:15:24
2 Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) +0:21
3 Guillaume Martin (Team Cofidis) +0:28
4 Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:30
5 Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) +0:32
6 Rigoberto Uran (EF) same time
7 Tadej Pogacar (UAE) +0:44
8 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +1:02
9 Migel Angel Lopez (Astana) +1:15
10 Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) +1:42
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
Points jersey Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
King of the Mountains Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R la Mondiale)
Best Young Rider Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers)
Most Combative of the Stage: Mathew Lagdagnous (Groupama – FDJ)
For full race reviews, go to cyclingnews.
Official race website: Le Tour
Header image: ©GETTY/Photo by A.S.O – Pool