Today was (supposed) to be for Peter Sagan, his team worked hard for it, but in the end Lotto Belisol’s Tony Gallopin took the race by the scruff of the neck and played a clever game of poker with perfect timing. There had been an early break which managed to get to the climbs, it was replaced by another small group and in the end the race was all together for the last drop into the finish and the shoot-out for the win.
Stage 11 Course
Today’s 187.5 kilometres from Besancon to Oyonnax has four categorised climbs before a downhill finish. The intermediate sprint comes after 89 kilometres, it’s a little bit lumpy, but the sprinters will be there looking for points. After the un-categorised climb of Les Crozets the course hits four ascents in 30 kilometres. Côte de Rogna (Cat 3, 7.6km at 4.9%) summits after 143.5 kilometres, next the Côte de Choux (Cat 3, 1.7km at 6.5%), then the Côte de Désertin (Cat 4, 3.1km at 5.2%) and finally the Côte d’Échallon (Cat 3, 3m at 6.6%), the summit of which comes 15 kilometres before the finish line.
The Early Action
There were many attacks as soon as the flag dropped and it didn’t take long for groups to gain and then lose gaps; Sagan, Voeckler, Chavanel and Hansen were all amongst the hopefuls before the escape of the day succeeded.
Three riders eventually put daylight between themselves and the Astana led peloton. Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) had a lead of a couple of minutes after half an hour’s racing and after 50 kilometres to they had built it up 6 minutes.
The chase had been from Astana, but as there is no one important on GC in the break they left the work to Cannondale for Peter Sagan. Orica-GreenEDGE was thinking of Simon Gerrans for the finale and had sent some riders up front, all under the watchful eye of Astana. The speed was quite high, but not achieving that much and as the race went under the 100 kilometre to go banner the lead was 4 minutes.
The Intermediate Sprint
98.5 kilometres out, through the village of Charcier, Lemoine jumped first, edging out the Swiss champion Elmiger and Delaplace in that order. Cannondale led-out to the sprint, but Sagan was not interested and Lotto Belisol’s André Greipel took the fourth place ahead of Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), it all must have been a bit of a joke as Kittel and Kristoff were having a good laugh about it.
Through the feed in Boissia, at the half way point, the lead had stretched to 4:25 as the interest in pulling the leaders back had waned somewhat. At the back of the bunch Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) was in trouble on a slight rise that was no trouble for the sprinters. Earlier Vansummeren had been riding with him, but eventually he was left to look after himself. A team car was with him, but he had lost 2 minutes on the peloton with 70 kilometres to go.
Cannondale took control of the peloton to keep the pace high before the climbs and the escape’s advantage was dropping all the time. The move by Sagan’s team inspired Movistar, Astana, Sky, Lampre-Merida and Garmin-Sharp to move forward. Garmin-Sharp had Talansky out the back, but put the rest of the team on the front.
The Start of the Climbs
With 56 kilometres to go, the first ‘proper’ climb of the day, the Côte de Rogna, reared up in front of the riders.
Garmin-Sharp kept the pace high at the start of the climb as the groupetto formed behind. Up front Delaplace could not hold onto Elmiger and Lemoine who were pushing to stay out as long as they could.
Talansky rode up part of the climb before stopping at the side of the road, after a short break he remounted to ride on.
Andrew Talansky finished over 30 minutes down
Attacks started and Nico Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) jumped away as Elmiger dropped Lemoine at the front.
Roche got together with Bakelants (OPQS), Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) and Lemoine.
Elmiger took the KOM at the top of the Côte de Rogna 44 seconds ahead of the Roche group. Europcar saw the danger for Rolland and put their men on the front as Astana were quite happy to let it go.
Lemoine and Slagter couldn’t hold onto Roche and Bakelants who dropped like stones to try to catch Elmiger.
Cannondale with help from Canadian champion Sven Tuft (Orica-GreenEDGE) were in control at the start of the Côte de Choux, but riders started to fire off the front of the peloton. Rolland (Europcar) being the most dangerous.
The Top of the Côte de Choux
Elmiger was first with Roche and Bakelants at 20 seconds and the bunch at 45.
37.5 kilometres to go and the three of Elmiger, Roche and Bakelants got together as Gautier (Europcar) and Herrada (Movistar) were trying to cross, but the bunch was not slowing down.
Jan Bakelants (OPQS) & Nico Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) gave it a good try, but Peter Sagan’s Cannondale team pulled all together for the finalé
Côte de Desertin
Roche was the strongman amongst the leaders as Gautier and Herrada made it five up front. Cannondale were still pulling the bunch at only 31 seconds as Elmiger again took the KOM points. Down into the valley and the lead plummeted much like the riders on the descent. By the base, with 25 kilometres to go, the lead was only 20 seconds
The last climb has a short sharp un-categorised slope after the summit, before the 15 kilometre descent to the finish in Oyonnax. Roche was not happy with the speed and pushed on at the start of the Côte d’Échallon which saw off Elmiger. Orica and Cannondale had what was left of the bunch in one thin line.
Roche got to the top with a lead of 15 seconds as the other three were pulled in by the Orica led chasers, but he still had the little rise to go before he could shoot down to the finish.
Tony Martin (OPQS) brought the race together, catching Roche with a very select group on his wheel. Nibali and Sagan were there and the others where scrabbling to get a wheel. On the last little climb Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol) put in a strong jump as Sagan and the others looked at each other for a reaction.
John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) was so close
Sagan had one team mate left to shepherd him to the finish, all the others had been burnt out with the day’s work. The lead group was now down to around 30 or so riders with 8 crazy kilometres to go as Gallopin had the easier time on his own through the tight, fast bends.
5K’s to Go!
Gallopin had 8 seconds, but it wasn’t enough and Sagan, Rogers and Kwaitkowski caught him. After a short rest, Gallopin went again and the others left it for Sagan to chase which gave the brave Frenchman a handy gap. Into the last K and Gallopin was holding off the bunch which had caught Sagan & co.
Into the last 800 metres and Gallopin was in the red giving it everything, at 200 metres he knew he had it in the bag and on the line he was a bike length ahead of John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) for a great win.
After the finish Tony Gallopin commented: “Unbelievable! I want to thank all my family, especially my fiancé and the team for letting me train on these roads. To be in the yellow jersey was a dream. Today I thought if I say at the front I would have a chance.”
Keep it PEZ for the Pezman himself roadside.
Tour de France Stage 11 Result:
1. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol in 4:25:45
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano
3. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo
5. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
6. José Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
8. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
10. Kévin Reza (Fra) Europcar.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 11:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 46:59:23
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 2:23
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 2:47
4. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 3:01
5. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol at 3:12
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 3:47
7. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC at 3:56
8. Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 3:57
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 4:08
10. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol at 4:18.