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