Wednesday, July 12, 7:05 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. ET
Stage 11 heads toward the Pyrenees via the Landes and the Gers. Following a beautiful tradition, the route passes through Labastide-d’Armagnac, home of the Notre-Dame-des-Cyclistes chapel. The saint is a beneficent protector to whom the sprinters will doubtless be dedicating their prayers. Indeed, this stage has been specially designed for the fast men, who arrive into Pau on flat roads.
Stage 11: Kittel spoils Bodnar breakaway for fifth win
Off the front for all 203.5 kilometers of stage 11, Maciej Bodnar came up 350 meters short of a solo victory Wednesday in Pau. Instead, the peloton swept past Bora-Hansgrohe’s hard-man, and Quick-Step’s Marcel Kittel won his fifth stage of this Tour de France. LottoNL-Jumbo’s Dylan Groenewegen collected another podium result, finishing second. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) was third.
“It’s incredible because, you know sometimes when you’re on your top level, your top game in the sprint it’s like playing Tetris,” said Kittel. “All lines were perfect, all the sprinting lines, that today I could jump from wheel to wheel. It’s incredible.”
Chris Froome kept his overall lead, again finishing comfortably in the peloton on the flat stage.
Stage 11, top 10
1. Marcel Kittel (GER/QST) in 4h34:27.
2. Dylan Groenewegen (NED/LNL) at 0:00.
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/DDT) 0:00.
4. Michael Matthews (AUS/SUN) 0:00.
5. Daniel McLay (GBR/TFO) 0:00.
6. Davide Cimolai (ITA/FDJ) 0:00.
7. André Greipel (GER/LOT) 0:00.
8. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/COF) 0:00.
9. Ben Swift (GBR/EAU) 0:00.
10. Danilo Wyss (SUI/BMC) 0:00.
1. Christopher Froome (GBR/Sky) in 47h01:55.
2. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) at 0:18.
3. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 0:51.
4. Rigoberto Uran (COL/CAN) 0:55.
5. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 1:37.
6. Daniel Martin (EIR/QST) 1:44.
7. Simon Yates (GBR/ORI) 2:02.
8. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 2:13.
9. Mikel Landa (ESP/SKY) 3:06.
10. George Bennett (NZL/LNL) 3:53.
Two other riders joined Bodnar from the gun, Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). They had a maximum lead of four and a half minutes but that was down to 30 seconds when Bodnar set off alone with 28km left.
In the final kilometer, Bodnar clung to a slight lead. The peloton had the 32-year-old Pole in sight.
With 350 meters to go, as Quick-Step’s Fabio Sabatini wound up the sprint, they caught Bodnar.
“I am disappointed about this,” Bodnar said. “I was only 450m. Maybe it wasn’t my best day. I wanted to do it for Bora, for Rafa [Majka], for Peter [Sagan], for my dad, who is dead. It was not meant to be. I am not so happy about today. I can be happy about my legs, but not about the result. I was 200km in the legs. All day in the front. Just 200m short of victory. Losing Peter Sagan is not easy for us. Same with Rafa. We are a strong team. We are still a good team. We are trying. We are now only six riders. We will try every day something to do.”
For a moment, Boasson Hagen had a clear shot at the line. But Kittel worked his magic yet again.
The German sprinter, wearing a green skinsuit with a comfortable lead in the points classification, made his jump from about eight riders back. It seemed like he had too much ground to make up in the final 200 meters.
Kittel popped into Michael Matthew’s slipstream for a moment. Then, he burst clear on the Sunweb rider’s left side.
Groenewegen clung to Kittel’s wheel but had no chance of passing in the final 50 meters.
Boasson Hagen rued his early acceleration, pounding the bars as Kittel saluted the crowd with one arm.
“I’m speechless, I’m super-pumped,” said Kittel. “It’s perfect at the moment.”
Unfortunately, three top riders crashed in stage 11, and it remains to be seen how that will affect them on Thursday. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) all went down but they did not lose time in the overall.