A day planned for the sprinters at the Tour de France almost provided a fairy-tale ending for adventurous escapee Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), who left his two breakaway companions behind with 23km remaining in stage 11 and came within 500 metres of soloing to victory.
It wasn't in the cards on this day, however, as Marcel Kittel (Qick-Step Floors) proved once again that he is the fastest man in the Tour, taking the stage 11 sprint in Pau to claim his fifth win of the 2017 race after the peloton reeled in Bodnar in the finishing straight.
Kittel once again bided his time and waited for the others to jump before he unleashed his massive sprint, easily outdistancing runner-up Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and third-placed Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), who pounded his bars at the line in frustration. Team Sunweb's Michael Matthews, who finished fourth, had a good turn of speed in the finale but was pinched against the barrier as Boasson Hagen moved slightly to the right in the closing metres. Briton Daniel McLay (Team Fortuneo - Oscaro) put in a good ride for fifth.
Although Bodnar didn't get the victory after his long day off the front, he did collect the day's prize for the Most Combative rider. Kittel has now won more stages in a single Tour than any rider since Mark Cavendish won five in 2011. Eddy Merckx has the record for most stages wins in a single Tour at eight.