After a run of unpredictable finales to this year’s sprint stages, normal service for the Tour de France was resumed on the final flat day before the first Pyrenean climbs tomorrow.
On stage 11, a six man break stuck after 15km, was pulled back 2km from the finale, and Mark Cavendish wrapped up with his third stage win and the green jersey.
It was standard transition stage fare, but Rabobank’s Lars Boom kept the television commentators talking with his do-or-die attack in the closing kilometres. He was the last man standing from today’s inevitably doomed break, which included Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) and Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun).
And while he admitted to knowing the break would fail, Boom said being in the break was ‘relaxing’ because there was less risk of being caught up in a mass pile-up.
"We went maybe a little bit too hard in the beginning, but with four men we didn’t get enough minutes to stay away in a super sprint. Halfway, the peloton came back at 2:50. We knew it was already too short.
"There was a little bit too much wind sometimes. The French guys were riding OK, but not too hard. It was too hard to stay away in the final.
"Maybe I should have stayed in the group a little bit longer and then jumped and maybe I would have survived, but it’s difficult to see it. It was nice to be in the break all day where you can relax and not have to worry so much about crashes in the big group."
Boom is no stranger to kamikaze breaks. In his first Tour de France last year, he launched the very first attack of the race the moment the flag dropped on stage 1 between Rotterdam and Brussels.
As a flatland specialist, Boom’s team duties protecting white jersey wearer Robert Gesink are over for the time-being as the race heads into the mountains for the first summit finish at Luz Ardiden.