Tour de France: Wout van Aert wins Mont Ventoux stage 11

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) conjured the latest extraordinary moment of his young career to win stage 11 of the Tour de France after a double ascent of Mont Ventoux, as the legendary mountain produced the first cracks in the armour of race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).

Twenty-four hours after placing second to Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) in a bunch sprint, Van Aert triumphed from the breakaway in one of the toughest mountain stages of this year’s Tour.

On the second ascent of the ‘Giant of Provence’, on the traditional route from Bédoin, the Belgian champion dropped World Champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and the Trek-Segafredo duo of Bauke Mollema and Kenny Elissonde.

Despite being significantly heavier than those climbing specialists, he powered his way up to Chalet Reynard and then up the exposed southern face of the bald mountain before maintaining his one-minute advantage down the 20km descent to the finish in Malaucène.

“I'm at a loss for words, it's so stupid to say. Of course I did not expect to win this stage before the Tour de France,” Van Aert said. “It's one of the most iconic climbs in the Tour, in the world of cycling. Maybe it's my best victory ever.”

Elissonde and Mollema hung on to take second and third, respectively, before the yellow jersey came home alongside Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), and Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo). Pogačar conceded no time to his direct rivals, and actually increased his overall lead after Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën) was dropped on the second ascent of Ventoux, but his air of invincibility begun to evaporate in the low-hanging cloud at the top of the mountain.

After Ineos Grenadiers had whittled the yellow jersey group to single figures, it looked like yet more domination when Pogačar followed an attack from Vingegaard. However, when the Dane upped the tempo near the summit, he lost contact and slipped back to join Carapaz and Urán for the descent.

Vingegaard was unable to turn his efforts into tangible rewards as he squandered a 30-second advantage on the descent, with Pogačar producing a statement of defiance to sprint for fourth place from the four-man group.

The Slovenian is still in yellow, with a lead of more than five minutes, but for the first time in this Tour he didn’t look like he was riding a different race to his rivals.

After a frenetic start on rolling roads, Van Aert and Alaphilippe joined a Trek-heavy breakaway for the double Ventoux, first scaled by the longer and gentler road from Sault, then the more familiar and steeper road from Bédoin, both emerging out of the trees at Chalet Reynard for the iconic final 6km stretch to the weather station at the summit.

Ineos controlled the peloton all day and, despite it becoming clear the winner would come from the break, they continued their effort on the second ascent, rolling out the old mountain train. Michal Kwiatkowski was the stand-out carriage, outlasting Richie Porte and riding himself into submission almost all the way from 10km to the final 2.5km of the mountain.

Discounting David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), who was dropped on the first ascent and lost nearly half an hour, first blood was drawn from stage 9 winner O’Connor, who found himself in trouble 10km from the top and went on to lose four minutes, falling from second to fifth overall. Enric Mas (Movistar) and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) were two other contenders who lost contact before the Pole had pulled aside and ground to a halt.

That left the remaining GC riders isolated and, after a brief lull, Vingegaard launched a fierce acceleration that suggested he’s a true podium contender. Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-PremierTech) were immediately dropped, but would limit their losses on the descent to 20 seconds, while Carapaz and Urán were also forced to watch the yellow jersey sail up the road again as he followed the white jersey. 

However, the twist came a kilometre or so later when Pogačar, under no acute pressure from Vingegaard, lost the wheel. The damage was nil at the finish, but it was a first hint that there’s life in this Tour yet.

Pogačar now leads by 5:18, with Urán up to second and Vingegaard up to third at 5:32, a second ahead of Carapaz. Fifth-placed O'Connor is the only other rider within six minutes.

How it unfolded

There was a double ascent of the Mont Ventoux on the menu but no one seemed particularly worried about conserving resources as the race got off to a flying start. Least worried of all was the World Champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who’d said this wasn’t a stage for him but made his intentions abundantly clear with several accelerations in the opening kilometres.

It was the Frenchman who, after a string of mini moves came and went, finally made something stick, and he continued to bludgeon the rest of the field into some sort of shape that resembled a promising breakaway.

He went clear with Quintana ahead of the Côte de Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, one of two early category-4 climbs, and dropped the Colombian on the double-digit gradients. He then pressed on alone through the intermediate sprint after 40km, at which point a counter-attacking group had established itself and was coming across.

Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Elie Gesbert (Arkea-Samsic), and Neilson Powless (EF Education-Nippo) were his companions, although Powless was soon dropped. In any case, Alaphilippe attacked them all again on the Côte de Gordes, going clear with Martin. Perez and Rolland managed to get back on terms over the top to form a leading quartet.

Further down the road, the attacks continued from the peloton and another chase group formed, containing: Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates), Julien Bernard, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Xandro Meurisse, Kristian Sbaragli (Alpecin-Fenix), Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange), and Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels p/b KTM). That group soon swelled to 13 when the ever-active Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) went across with Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis), and the (AG2R Citroën) duo of Benoit Cosnegroy and Greg Van Avermaet.

At that point, with around 130km to go, things finally started to calm down in the peloton, with the sprinters who were dropped amid the early chaos all regaining contact, and with Ineos coming to the front to dictate the tempo. The advantage of the four leaders over the chasers stabilized at a minute as the gap to the peloton stretched to three minutes.

With 124km remaining came the first proper climbing test, the category-1 Col de la Liguière - 9.3km at 6.7 per cent – winding its way steadily up the shrubby hillside. The leading quartet stayed together all the way up, with Dan Martin sprinting to collect maximum mountains classification points at the summit. The chase group – one man down after Cosnefroy fell away – followed over at 45 seconds, with the peloton at 4:45 and a gruppetto containing Mark Cavendish at 7:20.

The lead group and chase groups then merged on the approach to the first ascent of Ventoux with 100km to go. The first climb started from Sault, taking the longer (22km) but much gentler road up to Chalet Reynard before emerging onto the famous upper slopes for the familiar final 6km. The breakaway stayed together on the lower slopes before Alaphilippe launched yet another acceleration to split it in two.

Van Aert followed and helped drive it on, with Bernard, Elissonde, Durbridge, Meurisse, and Perez joining the move. Behind them, the rest of the break crumbled. There was nearly a minute between the groups as they passed Chalet Reynard, and a kilometre or so later only Rolland and Mollema remained as chasers, as Dan Martin and the rest slipped away and gave up hope. After sandbagging Rolland, Mollema attacked the Frenchman 2km from the top to bridge over and make it three Trek-Segafredo riders in the front group of eight.

Back in the peloton, Ineos continued to set the pace five minutes in arrears, and they soon found a GC victim in David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), who was dropped earlier and tried to limit the damage with teammate Bruno Armirail. Up front, Geraint Thomas worked up to Chalet Reynard before handing over to Dylan van Baarle.

At the summit, with 76km to go, Alaphilippe moved clear of the eight-man group to claim maximum mountains points ahead of Perez. Rolland followed over at 40 seconds. The peloton still contained more than 50 riders as UAE Team Emirates took over from Ineos Grenadiers in the final kilometre and led them over at 4:45. Gaudu was at two minutes when he crested.

Everyone got down the 20km descent to Malaucène safely – the same they’d do after the second ascent – with the gaps stable. The approach to Bédoin for the second ascent went over the uncategorized climb of the Col de la Madeleine, where Bernard shouldered the workload up front. He went so hard through Bédoin that Perez was dropped, and Bernard himself almost ground to the halt when he reached the official start of the 15.7km climb.

Elissonde immediately took the Trek-Segafredo baton, using the team’s numerical advantage to attack, with Durbridge and Meurisse quickly dropped. Finding himself with Alaphilippe and Mollema, Van Aert soon decided to attack them, moving easily clear with a fierce acceleration that took him over to Elissonde, who managed to latch onto the wheel and hang on. As a 30-second gap opened, Mollema tried to attack Alaphilippe, to no avail, but he did manage to shake him a couple of kilometres later when the Frenchman appeared to blow up.

Back in the bunch, Ineos Grenadiers lifted the tempo markedly through Jonathan Castroviejo and the bunch began to explode on the lower slopes.

At 11.2km from the summit, having been refused a collaboration request, and sensing Mollema might be starting to come across, Van Aert attacked Elissonde, leaving him for dead with another fierce kick. Within 2km, he was half a minute up on Elissonde, with Mollema at a minute and Alaphilippe at 2:30.

Michal Kwiatkowski took over from Castroviejo and reduced the yellow jersey group to just a dozen riders, and he found some joy when O’Connor lost contact with 10km to the top. Richie Porte took it up next, although Kwiatkowski remained there.

At Chalet Reynard, Van Aert emerged through the fans and onto the exposed final 6km of the mountain with a lead of 52 seconds over Elissonde and 1:15 over Mollema. He was even holding the yellow jersey group at 4:20, as the 12 riders who reached Chalet Reynard together: Porte, Kwiatkowski, Carapaz, Pogačar, Majka, Urán, Vingegaard, Mas, Kelderman, Lutsenko, Guillaume Martin, and Woods. O’Connor was bravely limiting his losses at 30 seconds.

As Elissonde and Mollema joined forces just over 3km from the top, now both 1:20 behind the flying Van Aert, Kwiatkowski took it back up in the yellow jersey group once Porte was done. That saw Martin dropped, and O’Connor slip back to more than a minute. In a futile last show of strength, Majka accelerated to the front but was immediately dropped as Kwiatkowski continued his charge, with Woods the next to lose contact. A kilometre or so later, Mas had to relent.

At 2.5km from the top, Kwiatkowski pulled aside and ground to a halt. The contenders were isolated and looked at each other for a moment until Vingegaard attacked. That spelled immediate trouble for Lutsenko and Kelderman, while Carapaz and Urán were also dropped as Pogačar followed the Dane. However, just over a kilometre from the summit, Vingegaard eased clear of Pogačar, who lost the wheel and appeared mortal for the first time in this race.

Van Aert crested Mont Ventoux for the second time with a lead of 1:15 over Elissonde and Mollema, while his teammate Vingegaard was only 20 seconds behind that duo and some 40 seconds up on Pogačar, who was about to be joined by Urán and Carapaz.

On the descent, Vingegaard desperately span out his biggest gear and saw his advantage wiped out by the chasing trio. Elissonde and Mollema stayed away and shook hands as they crossed the line together, realizing they did nothing wrong and simply lost to a stronger force in Van Aert, whose career would now appear to span new horizons.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 5:17:43
2Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:14
3Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
4Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:38
5Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo
6Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
7Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma
8Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech 0:01:56
9Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
10Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:02
11Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 0:03:28
12Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 0:04:05
13Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:05:09
14Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Team BikeExchange
15Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 0:05:35
16Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
17Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
18Rafal Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates 0:05:46
19Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:07:18
20Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 0:07:34
21Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:11:32
22Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers 0:12:18
23Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
24Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo
25Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
26Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
27Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) TotalEnergies 0:13:07
28Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team 0:14:28
29Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
30Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
31Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
32Cyril Gautier (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
33Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM
34Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo
35Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
36Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team
37Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech
38Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
39Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious
40Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
41Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers 0:14:46
42Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:18:30
43Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis 0:19:40
44Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange
45Sergio Henao Montoya (Col) Qhubeka-NextHash 0:19:44
46Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo 0:19:59
47Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates 0:21:52
48Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:22:18
49Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
50Simon Geschke (Ger) Cofidis
51Anthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:23:27
52Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo 0:24:20
53Hugo Houle (Can) Astana-Premier Tech 0:24:38
54Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
55Georg Zimmermann (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
56Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-Nippo
57Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
58Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
59Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
60Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
61Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo
62Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team
63Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
64Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
65Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
66Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
67Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix
68Casper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM
69Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation
70Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
71Petr Vakoc (Cze) Alpecin-Fenix
72Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:25:07
73David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
74Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 0:26:00
75Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:26:16
76Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fra) Cofidis 0:26:58
77Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
78Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates
79Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:27:08
80Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
81Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:28:15
82Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange
83Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start-up Nation
84Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
85Victor de la Parte (Spa) TotalEnergies
86Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
87Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers
88Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
89Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team
90Elie Gesbert (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
91Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
92Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
93Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo
94Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
95Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) TotalEnergies 0:29:04
96Maxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:29:53
97Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:29:58
98Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal 0:30:00
99Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team 0:30:48
100Chris Froome (GBr) Israel Start-up Nation 0:31:09
101Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-up Nation
102Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
103Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
104Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
105Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis
106Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis
107Fabien Doubey (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:32:55
108Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:33:05
109Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:33:10
110Michael Gogl (Aut) Qhubeka-NextHash
111Simon Clarke (Aus) Qhubeka-NextHash
112Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
113Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
114Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
115Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic
116Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:34:24
117Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:34:26
118Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis 0:36:55
119Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:37:13
120Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
121Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:37:26
122Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
123Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
124Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
125Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
126Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
127Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
128Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
129Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange
130Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
131André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
132Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka-NextHash
133Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange
134Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM
135Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange
136Omer Goldstein (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
137Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
138Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
139Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
140Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
141Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious
142Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious
143Julien Simon (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:39:13
144Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM
145Sean Bennett (USA) Qhubeka-NextHash 0:39:58
146Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:40:40
147Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep
148Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
149Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
150Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team
151Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
152Carlos Barbero (Spa) Qhubeka-NextHash
153Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
154Jeremy Cabot (Fra) TotalEnergies
155Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:43:25
156Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM 0:47:36
DNFTony Martin (Ger) Jumbo-Visma
OTLLuke Rowe (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFMiles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ
DNFDaniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFClément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFTiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM
DNF