Tour de France: Sagan wins stunner of a stage in Montpellier

On a day marked down for a bunch-sprint finish, the Tour de France delivered another stunner Wednesday during stage 11 to Montpellier as Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) snuck away in the final kilometres and finished six seconds ahead of the field.

Froome tried to win the stage from Sagan, but the world champion easily outsprinted the yellow jersey to take his second stage win of the 2016 race. Froome finished second, taking a six-second time bonus to go along with the six-second gap he put on his rivals.

Sagan's Tinkoff teammate Maciej Bodnar also made the four-rider split, along with Froome's teammate Geraint Thomas. Bodnar held on for third, while Thomas faded back into the field.

At the finish line, Sagan expressed surprise about how the stage played out.

"Froomey and Geraint Thomas came with us," Sagan said of the move he initiated in the closing kilometres. "I said, 'We are too strong. They're never going to catch us.' We just pulled very hard and it happened. It's unbelievable."

"Today everybody was like, 'It's crazy wind, it's crazy wind.' And just crazy wind was last 15 or 12km, I don't know how much. It was not planning. It was like, it's dangerous so 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."

Thomas said he was equally surprised at he and Froome's good fortune.

"Sagan was just motoring," he said. "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."

Froome added another surprising tactic to his resume following his attack on the downhill during stage 8 that saw him ride into the yellow jersey. The rider who is often accused of being too calculating and robotic has shown that he's got a few weapons in his quiver that he hadn't yet revealed.

He now leads Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) in the overall by 28 seconds, with Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) in third at 31 seconds. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is fourth overall, now 35 seconds behind Froome.

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How it unfolded

On paper, the 164km stage from Carcassonne to Montpellier looked like a day for the sprinters and an easy day for the general classification contenders. Two category 4 climbs came in the first third of the race, with a single sprint point at 50km to go. Despite the relatively flat parcour in the south of France, however, the blowing winds across the plains ensured none of the riders could take a day off.

Early attacks combined with crosswinds and tailwinds immediately out of Carcassonne to start splitting up the race. The route's twisting country roads meant the direction of the wind was changing all the time.

Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling) escaped the bunch to form a two-riders breakaway, while Lawson Craddock (BMC Racing) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) tried to bridge, but their long chase was ultimately unsuccessful.

The duo up front pushed their gap up to past four minutes with about 100km remaining, but the teams of the sprinters, which hadn't had an opportunity to contest the day's victory since stage 6, were eager to bring things together and didn't give the breakaway much leash.

From there the gap began to plummet, dropping to 2:40 just 10km later. Tinkoff continued to push the pace in the peloton, causing the first major split of the day as a group of about 30 riders, with most the general classification contenders included, formed on the front with five or six groups staggered behind.

While the make up of the chasing group continued to shuffle in the crosswinds, Howard and Vichot soldiered on alone, but their efforts off the front came to an end with 61km remaining as the main bunch reeled them back in.

Among the GC contenders, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) appeared to suffer the most in the winds, losing contact with the leaders and finding himself chasing from the second group for most of the final third of the stage.

The pace eased with 30km remaining as the peloton spread across the road, perhaps waiting for the sprinters' teams to take control of the race, and allowing some of the dropped riders to reconnect with the main bunch.

In the final 15km, Tinkoff, hoping to set up Sagan I the sprint, shared the work on the front with BMC, IAM Cycling and Trek-Segafredo. Constant changes in wind direction kept the GC teams near the front as well as they were on guard from keeping their leaders from being gapped off in the final run into Montpellier.

With 12km, Sagan hit the front and put in a hard dig. His effort caused more splits in the rear of the peloton as he pulled away from the field with teammate Bodnar, Froome and Thomas.

The lead quartet had 17 seconds on the field with 8km to go, and the chase was on in earnest as the green jersey and yellow jersey sped away.

The increased pressure was too much for Mark Cavendish after a long day in the wind, and the double stage winner popped out of the main field with an apparent mechanical.

Sagan continued to pour on the power up front, with the Sky duo and Bodnar happily sharing the load. The gap went over 20 seconds with 4.5km to go, and it was clear the sprinters' teams had been caught off guard and let this one slip away. 

SAGAN ce Hérault ! / @petosagan wins again! #TDF2016

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team3:26:23
2Christopher Froome (GBr) Team SkyRow 1 - Cell 2
3Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff TeamRow 2 - Cell 2
4Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha0:00:06
5Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 4 - Cell 2
6Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 5 - Cell 2
7Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension DataRow 6 - Cell 2
8André Greipel (Ger) Lotto SoudalRow 7 - Cell 2
9Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM CyclingRow 8 - Cell 2
10Oliver Naesen (Bel) IAM CyclingRow 9 - Cell 2
11Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension DataRow 10 - Cell 2
12John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 11 - Cell 2
13Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 12 - Cell 2
14Daniel Mclay (GBr) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 13 - Cell 2
15Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 14 - Cell 2
16Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff TeamRow 15 - Cell 2
17Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 17 - Cell 2
19Shane Archbold (NZl) Bora-Argon 18Row 18 - Cell 2
20Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 20 - Cell 2
22Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 22 - Cell 2
24Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 23 - Cell 2
25Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 24 - Cell 2
26Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 25 - Cell 2
27Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 26 - Cell 2
28Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 27 - Cell 2
29Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 28 - Cell 2
30Sergio Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 29 - Cell 2
31Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team SkyRow 30 - Cell 2
32Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 31 - Cell 2
33Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM CyclingRow 32 - Cell 2
34Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 33 - Cell 2
35Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 34 - Cell 2
36Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 35 - Cell 2
37Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro TeamRow 36 - Cell 2
38Paul Voss (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 37 - Cell 2
39Michael Valgren (Den) Tinkoff TeamRow 38 - Cell 2
40Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie0:00:14
41Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:16
42Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 41 - Cell 2
43Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:00:20
44Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 43 - Cell 2
45Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Bora-Argon 18Row 44 - Cell 2
46Gorka Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 45 - Cell 2
47Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Tinkoff TeamRow 46 - Cell 2
48Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 47 - Cell 2
49Antoine Duchesne (Can) Direct EnergieRow 48 - Cell 2
50Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:24
51Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo0:00:27
52Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:00:30
53Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 52 - Cell 2
54Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 53 - Cell 2
55Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 54 - Cell 2
56Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 55 - Cell 2
57Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 56 - Cell 2
58Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 57 - Cell 2
59Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Soudal0:00:35
60Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:00:43
61Yohann Gene (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 60 - Cell 2
62Iljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 61 - Cell 2
63Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange0:00:50
64Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step0:01:00
65Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida0:01:09
66Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 65 - Cell 2
67Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto SoudalRow 66 - Cell 2
68Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team KatushaRow 67 - Cell 2
69Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJRow 68 - Cell 2
70Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-DrapacRow 69 - Cell 2
71Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 70 - Cell 2
72Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 71 - Cell 2
73Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 72 - Cell 2
74Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 73 - Cell 2
75Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 74 - Cell 2
76Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 75 - Cell 2
77Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 76 - Cell 2
78Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 77 - Cell 2
79Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 78 - Cell 2
80Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 79 - Cell 2
81Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 80 - Cell 2
82Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18Row 81 - Cell 2
83Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
84Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 83 - Cell 2
85Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 84 - Cell 2
86Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 85 - Cell 2
87Timo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 86 - Cell 2
88Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 87 - Cell 2
89Cyril Gautier (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 88 - Cell 2
90Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Dimension DataRow 89 - Cell 2
91Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto SoudalRow 90 - Cell 2
92Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing TeamRow 91 - Cell 2
93Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJRow 92 - Cell 2
94Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:01:16
95Luka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre - Merida0:01:18
96Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step0:01:23
97Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team Katusha0:01:47
98Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha0:02:07
99Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-DrapacRow 98 - Cell 2
100Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:02:15
101Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:02:24
102Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step0:02:30
103Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling0:02:58
104Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJRow 103 - Cell 2
105Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ0:03:01
106Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre - MeridaRow 105 - Cell 2
107Brice Feillu (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 106 - Cell 2
108Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro TeamRow 107 - Cell 2
109Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek-Segafredo0:03:37
110Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek-Segafredo0:03:42
111Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre - MeridaRow 110 - Cell 2
112Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff TeamRow 111 - Cell 2
113Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling0:03:50
114Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 113 - Cell 2
115Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 114 - Cell 2
116Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 115 - Cell 2
117Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre - MeridaRow 116 - Cell 2
118Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team SkyRow 117 - Cell 2
119Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team KatushaRow 118 - Cell 2
120Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-DrapacRow 119 - Cell 2
121Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 120 - Cell 2
122Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar TeamRow 121 - Cell 2
123Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 122 - Cell 2
124Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing TeamRow 123 - Cell 2
125Florian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 124 - Cell 2
126Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJRow 125 - Cell 2
127Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 126 - Cell 2
128Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 127 - Cell 2
129Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Team SkyRow 128 - Cell 2
130Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 129 - Cell 2
131Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 130 - Cell 2
132Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 131 - Cell 2
133Matti Breschel (Den) Cannondale-DrapacRow 132 - Cell 2
134Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension DataRow 133 - Cell 2
135Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 134 - Cell 2
136Jan Barta (Cze) Bora-Argon 18Row 135 - Cell 2
137Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Team KatushaRow 136 - Cell 2
138Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team SkyRow 137 - Cell 2
139Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension DataRow 138 - Cell 2
140Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension DataRow 139 - Cell 2
141Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 140 - Cell 2
142Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-DrapacRow 141 - Cell 2
143Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Argon 18Row 142 - Cell 2
144Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-DrapacRow 143 - Cell 2
145Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 144 - Cell 2
146Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension DataRow 145 - Cell 2
147Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 146 - Cell 2
148Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 147 - Cell 2
149Leigh Howard (Aus) IAM Cycling0:05:39
150Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 149 - Cell 2
151Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) Lampre - MeridaRow 150 - Cell 2
152Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 151 - Cell 2
153Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar TeamRow 152 - Cell 2
154Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 153 - Cell 2
155Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 154 - Cell 2
156Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 155 - Cell 2
157Alberto Losada (Spa) Team KatushaRow 156 - Cell 2
158Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre - MeridaRow 157 - Cell 2
159Angel Vicioso (Spa) Team KatushaRow 158 - Cell 2
160Ruben Plaza (Spa) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 159 - Cell 2
161Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff TeamRow 160 - Cell 2
162Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 161 - Cell 2
163Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 162 - Cell 2
164Rui Costa (Por) Lampre - MeridaRow 163 - Cell 2
165Luke Rowe (GBr) Team SkyRow 164 - Cell 2
166Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 165 - Cell 2
167Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La MondialeRow 166 - Cell 2
168Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-BikeExchangeRow 167 - Cell 2
169Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 168 - Cell 2
170Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 169 - Cell 2
171Jerome Coppel (Fra) IAM CyclingRow 170 - Cell 2
172George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 171 - Cell 2
173Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 172 - Cell 2