Bonjour and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 11 of the Tour de France.
Hello and welcome to our complete live coverage of stage 11. The 162km stage travels east across the south of France from Carcassonne to Montpellier.
We are 30 minutes from the start of the stage. The profile and race history points to a sprint finish in Montpellier but a strong wind blowing from the west could make for a hugely important stage for the GC.
As a result many teams -including Team Sky, are already on the rollers warming up for an expected fast start.
Riders are at the sign-on podium, including the yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky) who gets a huge cheer.
Next up is Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data). He has won in Montpellier before.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) also get a huge cheer. He is in the polka-dot jersey again today.
The Movistar team has also warmed-up on the rollers. Could this stage see a GC fight?
@mattrabin Wed, 13th Jul 2016 11:30:28
As the clock ticks down to the roll out, 192 riders have signed on and are ready to race.
The riders face a 4km neutralised section today. They roll out of stunning Carcassonne and then the flag will be dropped after going under a low bridge.
As ever, the Cyclingnews journalists are at the start, capturing the thoughts and comments from the riders on the start line.
Barry Ryan spoke to Fabio Aru.
"There's a lot of wind today, we need to stay alert and stay together as a team. It's an important stage but then they all are. The main thing is to be in front and stay focused," the Italian said.
Peter Sagan also talked briefly before the roll out:
"I think a lot of teams are strong in the wind, not just us. There's Etixx, Lotto and others. And all the GC teams will be protecting their riders too. We'll see. There's going to be a lot of work to do today."
Asked if he had anything planned something for today, Sagan said: "I never plan."
The peloton is rolling to the start behind Christian Prudhomme's race director's car. The flag will be dropped very soon.
And we're off! The stage has officially started.
Team Sky has two riders on the front of the peloton, trying to control the early attacks.
The riders have a tailwind at the moment as they ride away from Carcassonne. It is splitting the peloton as the attacks go off the front.
Majka and Navarro were two riders in trouble but the peloton has eased and so they are back in the pack.
The peloton is lined out in the early kilometres. The wind is a cross wind at parts but also a tail wind in others. It's going to be a fast stage.
French national champion Arthur Vichot (FDJ) is on the attack, trying to spark a break. Does he know that Bastille Day is tomorrow?
Vichot has a gap and is quickly joined by Leigh Howard (IAM). They have 55 seconds but will they be allowed to go clear of the peloton?
@EquipeFDJ Wed, 13th Jul 2016 12:00:10
The duo's leas is up to 1:30.
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), won in Montpellier in 2011.
“I can remember it well. When I won there were road works and it was a narrow finish, now it’s wider,” he said at the start.
The win is pretty strong, it’s 30 km/h with gusts up to 60km/h. The direction is all the same, so it might not split the peloton, but guys could just go our the back because guys are so nervous.”
The peloton has let the two go up the road. Their lead is up to 2:00 now.
The roads is protected by trees at the moment but an exposed section could cause problems soon.
Several riders went down at the back of the pack.
As a result, the peloton has eased.
Riders involved in the crash are Pinot (FDJ) and George Bennett (LottoNL) who finished in the ditch. Both are up and chasing to get back on.
@letourdata Wed, 13th Jul 2016 12:15:52
The race is on twisting country roads, with the direction of the wind changing all the time.
Another crash! This time van den Broeck has gone down.
The GC teams are now on the front of the peloton, ready to protect their leaders.
Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson spoke to Chris Froome at the start.
"Today you can see it with the trees bending over there. It could be a big day out there. The guys have warmed up and they’re ready for a hard start. Lets see what today brings," Froome said.
"It’s a very nervous today especially with yellow to protect but the team have ridden in front for the last ten days now so hopefully they’ll help me stay out of trouble. We’ll be staying in front and keeping an eye on things. As soon as there a long straight with some cross winds we could see anyone take it up."
Pinot and some other riders are still chafing to catch the peloton. That indicates how high the speed is up front.
Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac) has also crashed. It seems the wind is causing lots of riders to touch wheels as they fight for position.
Pinot is back in the peloton as the race hits the short Cote de Minerve.
The wind has also sparked a forest fire, raising a hug cloud of smoke. However it should not be a problem for the race.
Thanks to the peloton easing, several other riders have got back up to the peloton after the crash.
Vichot is the first to the top of the short climb. He and Howard now lead by 2:30.
Team Sky, Katusha and Tinkoff are riding shotgun on the front of the peloton. Everyone seems ready to react if the wind blows and the roads are exposed.
@radiotour_fr Wed, 13th Jul 2016 12:49:02
We spoke to race organiser ASO to get the official version.
The peloton is riding steady, they are currently protected by a hill and a village.
Upfront Vichot and Howard are taking turns on the front, joining forces to extend their lead.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) is hoping to fight for the stage victory today if the stage ends in a sprint.
He spoke to Daniel Benson before the start.
"It could be an interesting day with the winds. I think all the teams are a little bit nervous. The GC teams for the riders in the wind and the sprinters’ teams. It could be a very nervous day and with that comes a lot of crashes. You have to be at the front and everyone will fight. Maybe there will be a split maybe nothing will happen," he said.
"I think we’ll see a sprint but I don’t know how many guys will be there. There are a lot of strong teams and sometimes that means that nothing happens. If we were in Qatar, then of course we’d have splits."
The riders are on the Cote de Villespassans now. It is 2.3km long at 4.5% but the pace is steady and the break is extending its lead.
Vichot also reaches the top of the second climb before Howard. Behind the final chasers -Lawson Craddock and Luis Leon Sanchez have rejoined the peloton after a long chase.
Paris-Roubaix winner has a special job today: Look after his Orica teammate Adam Yates, who is second overall behind Chris Froome.
"For sure the winds will play a part in my role. My job today is to stick to Adam and make sure he’s with the GC riders and holds onto white," he told Daniel Benson.
"He would rather be in the hills and we have the sprinters’ teams that will look to break things up. That’s what stage racing is all about. You’ve got to stage at the front and look after Adam. We got our stage yesterday and we know that we don’t have a pure sprinter here."
100km remaining from 162km
We are 100km from the finish.
The racing has been steady but nervous so far. This image shows Team Sky warming up before the start to be ready for a fast start. So far nothing much has happened.
At least we have lots of sunshine today. Be grateful for small favours!
The gap is under 4 minutes now -- just barely. With 92km to go, it is 3:50.
Team Tinkoff may have lost Contador, but they have not given up on this race. They have just turned up the speed to see if they can't get some echelons going -- and maybe drop some rivals.
89km remaining from 162km
The gap is dropping like a stone now. 2:40!
The field is now strung out, no longer all bunched together. Can't tell if there are really gaps. Although we see Wilco Kelderman and Robert Wagner of JumboNL-Lotto scurrying back up to the field after a mechanical.
Gaps indeed! A large group up front, and a group some30 or more seconds back. And the gap hovering at 2 minutes.
Those who got caught out and are now 40 secons back include Michael Matthews, Daryl Impey, Tony Gallopin and Thibaut Pinot.
Kelderman also in the second group.
Dimension Data reassures us that Mark Cavendish and his helpers are safely near the front, and BMC says the same for its guys.
Looks like Group is going to catch back up with Group 1.
Not all of them though. A group of five, including Matthews, looks to have lost contact.
Meanwhile, Howard and Vichot continue merrily on their way, only 1:30 up.
Echelons! We knew they were coming.....
73km remaining from 162km
73 kms and only 48 seconds now.
Six or seven groups now, spread across the road in classic echelon style.
Astana leads the way with only 30 seconds to the leaders.
Pinot had been dropped but has now clawed his way back up the first group.
Only 20 seconds now for Howard and Vichot, who turn around to see the mob not far behind....
The bunch is in a town now, so less wind. Looks like things are coming back together.
The second chasing group has its sights on the first group now. But they are getting back into open areas, so who knows.
No such luck. We have four groups out there on the road. All the special jerseys are in the first group, though.
The gap is jumping from 15 to 30 seconds, showing a downward trend now.
Sky pulling the field along. Only 8 seconds now.
With 61.2km to go, the break duo is caught.
@NBCSNCycling Wed, 13th Jul 2016 13:58:57
60km remaining from 162km
The race is definitely on now. But where is Movistar?
The flag on cars ad camper vans show how strong the wind is blowing. It is currently at 35km/h.
The pace at the front has eased now, with Nairo Quintana and several Movistar riders moving back to the front.
Behind them there are several groups that have formed after they were forced to create several echelons. Some of these groups may not get back up to the peloton today but they will have to ride hard all the way to the finish.
Rafa Majka goes down, as does his Tinkoff teammate Oscar Gatto.
They went down at a pinch point in the road.
Winner Anacona (Movistar) also went down.
It seems that Tejay van Garderen (BMC) was also stuck behind but he has rejoined the peloton and is now moving up near the front.
Quintana seems to be on his own after the crashes and echelons. He's up front for now but other teams are finding information to protect their team leaders.
50km remaining from 162km
It is time for the intermediate sprint. Will Cv sprint against Saagn?
Kittel also goes or it and beats Sagan and Cavendish. But Sagan extends his lead on Cavendish thanks to the result.
@letourdata Wed, 13th Jul 2016 14:11:44
The big chase group, that includes Pinot (FDJ) is 1:00 back on the main peloton.
Several teams have riders stuck in the back group.
@TrekSegafredo Wed, 13th Jul 2016 14:14:41
Three FDJ riders are trying to lead the chase for Pinot. Other echelons are forming behind them.
@EquipeFDJ Wed, 13th Jul 2016 14:14:48
40km remaining from 162km
Quintana is fighting for wheels but is alone near the front. He's mixed up with big Classics riders from LottoNL and Etixx. He has now found two teammates to follow, with another behind him.
The riders are packed across the road but the wind is now blowing from behind.
It is helping the Pinot group close the gap. It is 30 seconds now.
@LottoJumbo_road Wed, 13th Jul 2016 14:25:47
32km remaining from 162km
They're back! Pinot and the group of 81 riders has rejoined the peloton.
The Cyclingnews crew has reached the finish in Montpellier and have given us some recon info.
@SadhbhOS Wed, 13th Jul 2016 14:33:01
Who is your tip to win the sprint today? Mark Cavendish? Marcel Kittel? Andre Greipel? How about Dan Mclay as an outsider?
Here we go again! Another surge as the road is exposed in the wind.
This time Tinkoff, Etixx and BMC test their rivals.
Some riders are being spat out of the back.
22km remaining from 162km
The riders turn left and then right, with the wind now blowing them towards the finish in Montpellier. The speed is high as the sprint teams begin to smell their chance of success.
Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac) in the main group but is hurting after his early crash.
18km remaining from 162km
The sprint teams are hesitating before hitting the front to control the peloton and lead out the sprint.
@TheRaceRadio Wed, 13th Jul 2016 14:51:02
Tinkoff and BMC are bossing the front of the peloton, raising the speed as they protect their riders.
Schar and Burghardt are protecting Porte and van Garderen. Tinkoff is riding for Sagan.
The wind is still blowing and there could be another split and further echelons.
Sagan and Bodnar have jumped away, with Froome the first to go after them.
Thomas has joined Froome, Sagan and Bodnar. The yellow jersey is on the attack!
Sagan is still driving hard, with other riders trying to join them.
Thomas and Froome are doing turns in the attacking echelon.
The four have a 200m lead now. They are going away from the rest of the peloton that includes Quintana and all the other GC riders.
The four already have 20 seconds. The peloton has yet to create a proper chase.
Cavendish is at the back of the peloton. He seems to have a problem with just 7km to go. He could be out of the sprint.
6km remaining from 162km
Froome, Thomas, Sagan and Bodnar lead the peloton by 25 seconds.
Cavendish has sat up. He seems to have a flat or mechanical problem.
Etixx and Katusha ate chasing the Froome/Sagan attack but they are not closing the gap.
Lotto Soudal is also helping the chase but the four are out of sight.
@PatLefevere Wed, 13th Jul 2016 15:07:07
3km remaining from 162km
The race leaves the main road and heads to the centre of Montpellier.
They will soon turn left and left again before a straight run to the finish near the stadium. The route could help the chasers.
The gap is down to 20 seconds.
Froome, Thomas, Sagan and Bodnar are working together, with even Froome doing turns on the front.
Giant-Alpecin is chasing for Degenkolb but the four still have 15 seconds. This will be close.
1km remaining from 162km
Thomas is leading them home at 60km/h.
Now Froome hits the front to fight for every second. They won't be caught.
Bodnar leads out but Sagan comes past him. Froome tries to match him but Sagan wins the stage, with Froome in his slipstream.
The peloton finishes six seconds back but Froome also took a six-second time bonus.
That's not much time but is a huge mental bonus for Froome.
It was amazing to see the yellow and green jerseys take on the race like that.
Thanks to his stage win and Cavendish's late mechanical problems, Sagan has massively extended his lead in the points competition.
Check our flash report and early photos from today's stage.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 13th Jul 2016 15:16:26
What a stage, first with the cross winds and echelons, then with the late audacious attack by Sagan and Froome's decision to go with him. They both had excellent support from teammates Bodnar and Thomas, who helped them stay away.
@GiantAlpecin Wed, 13th Jul 2016 15:19:50
@ItalianManolo Wed, 13th Jul 2016 15:18:23
Froome now leads the Tour de France by 28 seconds, with Adam Yates (Orica-Bike Exchange) second.
Dan Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) is third at 31 seconds.
Sagan is on the podium and collects the kisses and flowers as stage winner. It is sixth stage victory at the Tour de France.
Today's stage was only 3:26:00 long but was a thriller.
Froome's attack shook up the top ten. Both Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) and Purito Rodriguez (Katusha) lost 1:09.
Peter Sagan revealed ho the attack with Froome happened:
"Froomey and Geraint Thomas came with us. I said, ‘We are too strong. They’re never going to catch us.’ We just pulled very hard and it happened. It’s unbelievable,” he said.
"Today everybody was like, ‘It’s crazy wind, it’s crazy wind.’ And just crazy wind was last 15km, or 12, I don’t know how much."
"It was not planning. It was like, it was dangerous you have to stay in the front. The bunch is going to split for sure. But you go in breakaway with green jersey and yellow jersey and two guys like Bodnar and Thomas, you cannot plan that. It just happened."
@inrng Wed, 13th Jul 2016 15:34:00
It seems that Movistar manager Unzue is angry that the stage passed on narrow roads, describing it as too dangerous. He should be perhaps asking what happened to his team and why they didn't protect Quintana.
We have the first images of Sagan's victory. Sagan beat Froome in the sprint.
This photo was taken before the start but reveals so much about what happened in the finale.
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) talked about the stage.
"I was surprised as well, Sagan was just motoring," he said of the attack.
"When they went Froomey responded straightaway and behind him there was a gap, so I got up to him. We were at the front all day just waiting for something to go and then Sagan and Bodnar just went and that was it."
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) seems to enjoy entertaining everyone watching the stage.
“I hope everyone had fun today. I was hurting but enjoyed it too. I hope it’s fun to at least watch,”he said after the podium ceremony.
“It was an improvised attack. I’m just really happy we made it to the finish. It just happened, we didn’t make any more calculations. We got a gap and then when we had five metres, I looked back and decided to go for it. Then they came with us, all four of us worked like crazy.”
“I was happy because I bet everything on an attack. I could have lost the green jersey because if they’d caught I wouldn’t have won the sprint but it worked out well.”
The organisers of the Tour de France have announced that Thursday’s stage to Mont Ventoux will be shortened due to the danger of strong winds on the exposed mountain. Forecasts of 10km/h winds forced the organiser to shorten the stage to protect the riders and spectators on the climb.
Race director Christian Prudhomme made the announcement soon after he finish of the stage to Montpellier. Prudhomme explained that the finish line will be placed near the Chalet Reynard, making the stage 5.7km shorter.
“It will be a spectacular climb of 10km. Rider safety is more important,” Prudhomme said, announcing the shortening of the stage.
There are reports of 100km/h winds at the exposed summit of Ventoux, with race organisers unable to reach the summit to erect the small but vital technical area for the finish.
No doubt the creation this year of the Extreme Weather Protocol also helped reach a wise decision on reducing the stage to Ventoux.
This was the moment Sagan and Froome sprinted to the line.
Peter Sagan found out about the shortened stage to Ventoux in the post-stage press conference.
"It will be six kilometres less? Nice!"
Peter Sagan found out about the shortened stage to Ventoux in the post-stage press conference.
"It will be six kilometres less? Nice!"
Fabio Aru (Astana) lost time to Froome but was happy just to finish the stage.
“It was a tough stage for a lot of us but the team helped me a lot. I hope Luis Leon Sanchez is okay after his crash. He’s an important rider for us," he said.
"I’m not surprised what Froome did. He has won the Tour twice, so it’s no surprise. Well try to come up with something later in the race. There’s a lot of racing to come yet."
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) admitted he had a tough day in the echelons.
"It was a difficult day for me. There was a lot of wind and it was all flat. And the sprinters were favoured," he said.
"Froome took a few seconds by taking advantage of the moment but I want to remain positive. We didn't crash while it was very nervous."
"Organisers are thinking about the show but we take chances with our lives every day and especially in stages like this."
"Tomorrow I would have liked the stage to go to the top because it's an ideal climb for me. But anyway, there are still lots of days and mountains for me."
Chris Froome (Team Sky) spoke briefly after pulling on a new yellow jersey.
“I can’t believe what happened out there. It was really difficult day but I relied on my teammates all day and they were always at the front and that allowed me to go with Sagan at the end."
Asked about the shortening of the Ventoux stage, Froome said:
“The sprint with Sagan might be different…. Lets see what happens. There’s really strong winds forecast, so that could play a part even before we reach the climb. We have to be switched on and ready for anything.”
What a stage and what a finale.
To get the full story and see our photo gallery of he action, click here to visit the stage report page.
This is the moment the Sagan/Froome break powered clear.
@inrng Wed, 13th Jul 2016 16:39:11
There is one climber who is happy the Tour de France doesn't climb to the summit of Ventoux on Thursday.
@laurenstendam Wed, 13th Jul 2016 16:44:21
As we wrap up our full live coverage from the stage, this image sums up the days action, the echelons and the final attack by Sagan, Froome, Thomas and Bodnar.
We'll have full live coverage from Thursday's stage from Montpellier to Mont Ventoux.
The stage won't finish atop the bald mountain on Provence -the Géant de Provence but 5.7km lower at the Chalet Reynard. The climb to the finish is still 10km long and could be raced even more aggressively now. With the key hilly time trial coming the day after, we are in the most important days of this year's Tour de France.
For full coverage of today's stage, visit our special Tour de France by clicking here.
We'll say goodbye with an image that explains the stage to Montpellier.
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