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At it happened: GC contenders do battle in the Massif Central

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Bonjour and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 11 of the 2024 Tour de France!

It's an earlier start on today's stage, with a brutally tough and long mountain stage on the menu for the 171 remaining riders. 211km, over 4000 metres of elevation gain and six categorised climbs line today's testing route through the Massif Central. 

Make sure to read Alasdair Fotheringham's preview of stage 11, with comments from EF Education-EasyPost's head DS Charly Wegelius and UAE Team Emirates sports manager Joxean Fernández Matxin. Also, take a look at the profile underneath with Wegelius predicting it will allow a strong break to get up the road and fight for victory.

Lidl-Trek will start the day a man down, or two if you think about all the work he does, with Tim 'El Tractor' Declercq unable to take the start in Évaux-les-Bains due to illness.

Today's stage finish in Le Lioran brings back memories of Greg Van Avermaet's terrific breakaway win on stage 5 of the 2016 Tour de France, when he soloed to the line in the Massif Central to take his second Tour stage win and moved into the yellow jersey.

Visma-Lease a Bike have extended Bart Lemmen's contract, with the former military man staying with the Dutch squad until at least 2027. He'll be on protection duty today for Jonas Vingegaard, as the two-time defending Tour champions continued his battle with race leader Pogačar.

Just over an hour away from the départ fictif and neutralised roll-out from Évaux-les-Bains at 11:20 local time in France (CEST). 

If you missed yesterday's sprint stage, catch up with all the action from the race report here. It was a quiet day until the final sprint, where Mathieu van der Poel and Alpecin-Deceuninck put on the perfect lead-out display to finally get their sprinter Jasper Philipsen to the line in first:

With the mental and physical duel between Pogačar, Vingegaard and Evenepoel only developing as the days go on, read more from Barry Ryan on the yellow jersey's thought about racing with intelligence and how the second week at the Tour might unfold:

Could Romain Bardet (DSM-Firmenich PostNL) possibly double up on stage wins today? There will be great support for him today in central France.

Today could be the first serious shake up of the GC for a while. Remind yourself here of what the current rankings are.

The riders will be setting off in about half an hour, for the unofficial start. Unlike yesterday, expect many to be preparing themselves for a fast start, and to try and get into the day’s break.

With a breakaway victory expected by many, this could be chaos at the start of the stage, as multiple riders try to get up the road - and therefore a hard one for the GC teams to control. It could be a smart move for them to get some of their own riders into the break, and force their rival teams to chase.

There are six categorised climbs in total today, including the category one Puy Mary. This is seriously tough terrain, and whoever wins the stage will have to have very good climbing legs - and it could also be a day certain GC contenders are seeking to gain time on.

The riders are moving, as the 4.4km neutralised section begins.There will be some wanting to make their way to the front, to launch attacks right from the off.

Warren Barguil has a puncture. As a strong climber a long way down the GC, he’s one of the men we might see try to get up the road after the racing starts in a few minutes.

Now Jan Tratnik has a rear wheel change. He’ll likely be on defensive duty, marking out any dangerous moves for Visma-Lease a Bike teammate Jonas Vingegaard.

211KM TO GO

Surprise, surprise, Jonas Abrahamsen is already one of the riders at the front trying to go clear. That man can't stop attacking. 

Lots of attempts being made by many different riders, but nobody had managed to get any sort of gap yet.

Richard Carapaz is the first rider to get a gap, but it's only of a few bike lengths, ahead of swathes of riders trying to join him

He's sat up for now, and the peloton is back together.

The pattern remains the same, with moves being made constantly but nobody able to gain even a bike length.

Now a first group has formed: Quentin Pacher, Kévin Vauquelin and Tobias Johannessen.

They have ten seconds on the peloton.

200KM TO GO

More attacks being made from the peloton, with a group of about 8 trying to go clear.

Carapaz is involved in that group again, but it too has been brought back.

This is interesting  - Wout van Aert is attacking.

Van Aert has four other riders with him.

Two riders have gone down on a descent - Kobe Goossens and Frank van den Broek Both are back up and riding, but Goossens looks quite badly bruised.

Those two riders were in a group right at the front of the peloton trying to go clear, behind an EF rider leading the descent. 

Ben Healy was that EF rider, and Van Aert is still one of the riders with him with a gap on the peloton.

There are about a dozen riders in this chase group.

Lots of very strong riders in this group - as well as Healy and Van Aert, there is Williams, Zingle, Lazkano, Pidcock, Kwiatkowski, Armirail, Madouas, Gregoire, Carapaz, Tejada, Onley.

Lidl-Trek are trying to shut it down in the peloton, but are 20 seconds adrift.

190KM TO GO

They have now engulfed that trio, but the peloton are still charging after them. UAE have put Tim Wellens at the sfront, and brought them to within six seconds.

The breakaway group has now split in two, with the latter half caught by the peloton.

Healy is pressing on at the front, with Vauquelin on his wheel.

Meanwhile at the back of the race, Goossens is receiving attention from the medical car. 

The race is all back together, and thus begins the next round of attacks. Van Gils is the next to try.

His move came to nothing, but Lapeira an Bernard have a gap of a few seconds now.

They too have been brought back.

It really seemed that we'd had our break of the day form earlier, until UAE Team Emirates decided to chase it down. With no GC rider present in it, we can only assume that they fancy the stage win today for Tadej Pogačar, and didn't want to strong a break to chase down.

An 8 man group has now formed, a few seconds ahead of a 15-man chase, which is a few seconds ahead of the peloton.

Two Intermarché - Wanty riders are setting the pace, and going deep to try and make this move stick.

Christophe Laporte has jumped clear, and has a sizable gap of five seconds. With Van Aert attacking earlier, clearly Visma-Lease a Bike want a rider up the road.

The rest of the peloton is all together again, meaning Laporte is the only man out in front. 

Laporte too has been brought back now.

180KM TO GO

It's calmed down a little, with no committed moves being made the last few kilometres. It's only a matter of time though.

And now Alberto Bettiol does exactly that, taking teammate Ben Healy an two others with him.

Again, the elastic hasn't snapped, and they've been joined by multiple more riders. 

It's EF who are the main agressors. Bettiol is no longer at the front, but Healy an Carapaz are taking turns at the front instead. 

A new group of about ten has now formed, featuring none of those EF riders. 

170KM TO GO

Ion Izagirre is a rider who you might have expected to be in the mix today, but is off the back of the peloton and doesn't look right - perhaps he is sick?

Richard Carapaz and Cristián Rodríguez are the first riders in a while to get a gap. The pair has 10 seconds on the peloton. 

There's a flurry of attempted counter-attacks in the peloton, but they remain together, 13 seconds behind Carapaz and Rodríguez.

We’ve been racing for an hour now, and still no break. This has been breathless! Things are looking good for Carapaz and Rodríguez though, who now have a lead of 15 seconds.

Izagirre isn't the only rider struggling off the back today. His Cofidis teammate Alexis Renard is also adrift, as is Fred Wright. 

Carapaz and Rodríguez have company About seven riders have joined them, and the peloton is 11 seconds adrift. 

This is the most promising things have looked for a breakaway group for a long time. Could this be the one?

Magnus Cort, Clément Russo, Anthony Turgis, Alex Zingle, Sylvain Dillier and Mattéo Vercher are the riders who have joined Carapaz and Rodríguez.

Very bad news for Cofidis - both Izagirre and Renard have both just abandoned. There's clearly some kind of problem in the Cofidis ranks.

Multiple riders are pouncing out of the peloton trying to join this lead group, including Pidcock. 

150KM TO GO

Toms Skujiņš, Paul Lapeira and Frank van den Broek have manage to join the leaders. 

The gap is up to 20 seconds, but still new attacks are being made from the peloton, including one from Romain Bardet.

We're only a few kilometres away from the intermediate sprint, which Girmay an Philipsen are aware of. Philipsen has tried to sneak away, but is being marked by the green jersey.

Turgis has jumped clear from the rest of the break, seemingly to gain maximum points at the sprint. He crosses the line first, and takes 20 points.

Turgis was third in the points classification, and now moves up to third.

A mechanical for Felix Gall in the peloton.

There is one other rider in the break we didn't notice - Stephen Williams. He's a potential stage winner today, and will like the punchy climbs coming later on. 

This break still isn't been le go by the peloton, though, which are bringing them back again, the gap back down to under 10 seconds. 

140KM TO GO

The peloton is closing down on the leading twelve, and is splitting up in the proccess.

Those splits seemed to have healed, while the leading dozen only have a few seconds of an advantage.

Today has already been exhausting for the riders, and they haven't even hit a climb yet! The first is coming in a few kilometres.

The twelve riders has now been caught, but from it Carapaz has managed to attack with a Vercher, and the pair have opened up a gap on the downhill they're currently descending.

Carapaz and Vercher have built a lead of 6 seconds on the descent, and have now started the Côte de Mouilloux (which is 1.9km at 6.4%).

A group of four is chasing the leading duo, a few seconds behind.

Riders are being dropped out the peloton on this climbs, and many are struggling at the back Surprisingly, one of those riders is Pello Bilbao, who is up there on GC in fifteenth.

Healy, Lazkano, Lapeira and Onley are the four riders chasing Carapaz and Vercher.

And those six riders have come together as they go over the top of the climb.

Lazkano was first over the climb, taking the one KOM point on offer.

130KM TO GO

20 seconds for this lead group now. That's as big as anything we've seen today.

We're on the next climb now, the Côte de Larodde. They'll be riding up it for 3.7km, up steep slopes of 6%.

Bike change for Bardet in the peloton. He was unsuccessful in his earlier attempt to get into the break.

This is looking good for the break. They're lead has grown to 47 seconds on this climb.

A reminder of the six riders in the lead group: Richard Carapaz, Mattéo Vercher, Ben Healy, Oier Lazkano, Oscar Onley and Paul Lapeira.

This was Carapaz and Vercher on the descent earlier, where they made the gap that ensured their presence in the group that now leads the race.

Crucially, Carapaz has Healy with him. The Irishman is doing lots of the pace-setting on this climb, and looking as powerful as ever despite all the work he's in already today.

Carapaz made a point of coming through to take the maximum points at the top of the climb. Maybe he has his eye on the polka-dot jersey, having fallen out of GC contention.

120KM TO GO

Zingle has been dropped from that chase group, unable to stay with the pace on the undulating terrain.

The chase group is 30 seconds behind. They face a big chase, but will hope to make it from here.

Interestingly, none of the six riders in the lead group have ever won a stage at the Tour de France before. Although in Carapaz’s case, it’s more of a technicality - he crossed the line arm in arm with Ineos teammate Michal Kwiatkowski at a stage during the 2020 edition.

110KM TO GO

That's it, the two groups have come together.

So we now have a ten-man group at the front of the race, two minutes ahead of the peloton: Richard Carapaz, Mattéo Vercher, Ben Healy, Oier Lazkano, Oscar Onley, Paul Lapeira, Romain Grégoire, Julian Bernard, Guillaume Martin and Bruno Armirail.

The coming together of the groups means EF are no longer the only team with two men at the front. Decathlon AG2R now has Paul Lapeira and Bruno Armirail. Neither rider has the climbing credentials of EF's Carapaz, but the punchy nature of those to come could suit Lapeira. 

For the first time all day, things are relaxed out there. The peloton are content to let this break maintain a lead for now, and we don’t have another climb for about another 55km.

100KM TO GO

The lull in proceedings has given Kobe Goossens a chance to drop back and get more help from the medical car. He’s badly bashed up from his crash earlier, but still present in the peloton.

UAE Team Emirates are certainly riding like a team that doesn't want to ive the break too much leeway. They've already brought the gap down to under two minutes. 

90KM TO GO

Here's the break of the day earlier, back when they were trying to secure a lead over the peloton. You can see from their expressions how hard they had to go.

80KM TO GO

This unclassified rise is hard enough for some riders to be dropped out of the peloton, including Biniam Girmay in the green jersey. 

UAE Team Emirates leading the peloton at a steady pace, as they have been for several kilometres now. 

Tim Wellens and Nils Politt are the two UAE riders doing all the work. They are holding back their climbing domestiques for later. 

70KM TO GO

Decathlon are getting anxious in the break. Armirail is at the front, and has notably increased the pace, with the riders at the back having to strain not to get dropped.

60KM TO GO

UAE Team Emirates are showing the benefits of having top classics specialists for domestiques on terrain like this. All on their own, Tim Wellens and Nils Politt have managed to control the gap, meaning climbing domestiques Marc Soler and Pavel Sivakov can be kept in reserve.

The riders are ascending gradually, as they approach the official start of the category two Col de Neronne. This one sets the tone for the hills to come, in that it’s short (3.9km), but steep (8.7%).

It’s still two minutes between the break and the peloton. We can expect the former group to start breaking on the upcoming hill, as the superior climbers up the pace in a bid to hold off the peloton and win the stage.

On paper, Carapaz is the strongest climber, though will he be fatigued from all of his efforts earlier, when he was the main instigator for forming this group in the first place?

Martin and Onley are also recognised primarily as climbers, but the punchy nature of these climbs might instead suit a rider like Grégoire or Lapeira. 

50KM TO GO

More riders are now contributing to the pace-setting in the peloton, with Soudal-QuickStep forming a train next to the UAEs. For the latter, Wellens is done and dropped, and Marc Soler is now leading the line.

The break have just started the climb.

A crash in the peloton, and it's Wout van Aert.

Van Aert was leading the peloton for Visma-Lease a Bike on the run-in to the climb, and overshot a corner.

He looks OK, and is back up, but is needing to fix his bike before he can continue.

Lazkano and Healy have gone clear from the rest of the break on the climb.

However, they are now only 55 seconds ahead of the peloton. 

Lazkano drops Healy.

UAE Team Emirates have taken over control of the peloton again on the climb, with three men ahead of Pogačar.

Sivakov, Yates and Almeida are the three teammates with Pogačar

Lots of riders being dropped out the peloton now, including Barguil and Bardet, two of the many riders who tried to get into the day's break. 

Back out front, Carapaz has bridged up to Healy, and together are chasing Lazkano. 

Healy has now been given the go-ahead to ride away from Carapaz, and is only a few seconds away from Lazkano. 

Pogačar might have three teammates with him, but Vingegaard is also well-protected, with Jorgenson, Benoot and it seems another Visma-Lease a Bike rider still with him.

Healy has caught Lazkano, 500 metres from the top of the climb.

Healy reaches the top of the climb first to take maximum points, with Lazkano on his wheel. 

Carapaz crests it 30 seconds later, followed by Onley and Bernard a bit further down, and then the UAE-led peloton 1-30 later. 

40KM TO GO

Pogačar now has a fourth teammate with him, in Juan Ayuso. The Spaniard was hanging towards the back of the peloton on the climb, but is back at the front again, and doesn't appear to be suffering. 

Healy and Lazkano have started climbing Puy Mary. This is the hardest climb of the day, averaging a painful 7.9% for 5.3km.

And now, one minute later, the peloton start the climb. UAE Team Emirates are bound to set a fierce pace - and will this also be where Pogačar makes his move?

Sivakov still leads, and has Ayuso, Almeida and Yates behind him ahead of Pogačar. 

Meanwhile a the front, Carapaz hasn't given up yet, and joined back up with Healy and Lazkano. 

While there are 5 UAE riders in the peloton, there are four Vismas (Vingegaard, Benoot, Jorgenson and Kelderman), 2 Boras (Roglič and Hindley), 2 Soudal-QuickSteps (Evenepoel and Landa) and 3 Ineos (Rodriguez, Bernal, De Plus). 

Correction, there are 3 Soudal riders: Ilan Van Wilder is also there for Evenepoel. 

Sivakov is finished, and Ayuso takes over.

Ayuso's turn didn't last long, and Yates has taken over.

The peloton is really starting to thin now under the pace of Yates. Hindley, Ayuso, Benoot, Meintjes are all dropped.

Bernal, Mas are also dropped, riding alongside Ayuso.

Lazkano is caught, as was Carapaz earlier, leaving Healy as the last man out front.

That's it Healy is caught. The day is over for the breakaway.

There are only ten riders left in the peloton: Adam Yates, Almeida, Pogačar, Roglič, Vingegaard, Evenepoel, Landa, Rodriguez, Ciccone, and a Visma-Lease a Bike rider (either Jorgenson or Kelderman).

31.5KM TO GO

Nobody has followed him.

Vingegaard and Roglič lead the chase behind, Evenepoel is further behind.

Now Vingegaard is dropping Roglič. 

Pogačar reaches the top of the climb, Vingegaard just 2 seconds behind, Roglič just a few seconds behind him.

Now Evenepoel reaches the top, still further adrift. 

30KM TO GO

Roglič has caught Vingegaard, just as he did on the descent of the Galibier during stage four.

Pogačar must have had this descent in mind when he decided to attack so early, remembering how much time he gained on Vingegaard on the Galibier.

Evenepoel has been caught by the next group on the road, which consists of Rodriguez, Adam Yates, Almeida, Kelderman, Landa and Ciccone.

Dodgy moment for Pogačar, who's bike locks for a split second. He's taking risks on this descent!

It's paying off in terms of his gap - he's now 21 seconds ahead of Vingegaard and Roglič.

Meanwhile the Evenepoel group is a further 15 seconds behind.

Further down the road, there's a much more relaxed atmosphere on the Puy Mary. Romain Bardet is riding through the section where his fan club has assembled to pay homage to him. He's being mobbed by fans all along the road!

Just as he did on the Galibier, Rodriguez has flown down this descent, and has led himself, Yates, Almeida, Ciccone and Evenepoel onto the wheels of Roglič and Vingegaard.

Pogačar has now started the next climb, with a lead of 35 seconds over that group.

This climb is Col du Perthus, and it's 4.5km at 8.2%. 

Vingegaard has upped the pace again on this climb, and he and Roglič are drifting clear from the rest of the group.

Evenepoel is also with them both. 

Now Evenepoel is being dropped by the other two. They are still 33 seconds behind Pogačar. 

The gap between Pogačar and the 2 chasers appers to be coming down. It's being reported as 25 seconds. 

Vingegaard attacks! He's dropped Roglič, and is motoring up the climb now.

There are 20 seconds already between Vingegaard and Roglič, and just 15 now between Pogačar and Vingegaard. Vingegaard is climbing this hill faster than anyone else on the road. 

Still one kilometre left to climb for Pogačar. 

Evenepoel has now caught Roglič. They're 35 seconds behind Vingegaard, and 50 behind Pogačar.

Pogačar will really want to still have something of a gap over Vingegaard by the top of the climb. If he's still out front, he'll hope to extend his lead again on the descent.

Vingegaard is closing him down though, he has him in sight.

And he's caught him! Just a few metres from the top.

The two sprint for the bonus seconds, and Pogačar wins it. But that's a huge morale boost for Vingegaard, given the size of the deficit at the start of the climb.

Evenepoel and Roglič reach the top of the climb about 45 seconds later, Evenepoel claiming the remaining two bonus seconds.

This time, Vingegaard is working with Pogačar. He's setting the pace on the descent.

Here's Romain Bardet soaking up the applause of his fan club.

10KM TO GO

Evenepoel and Roglič are the two riders who are  38 seconds behind, while Rodriguez is in a group 50 seconds behind them.

Pogačar and Vingegaard are on the shallow lower slopes of the final climb now.

They're both taking turns, but neither seems fully committed. 

With Carlos Rodríguez in the group behind Evenepoel and Roglič are Almeida, Adam Yates, Ciccone and Landa.

Pogačar and Vingegaard are now at the official start of the Col de Font-de-Cère, where the gradient kicks up to 5.8% for 3.3km. Is that too shallow for any of them to make a gap with an attack?

5KM TO GO

1km to the top for the two leaders.

Tadej Pogačar in the yellow jersey, before he was caught by Vingegaard.

Vingegaard is pulling for the final kilometre of this climb. It seems he wants to set a pace fast enough to discourage another Pogačar attack. 

The two leaders reach the top together. Now, the question is who will win the two-up sprint at the finish? Not only is there is a stage win on offer, there are also more bonus seconds. 

Evenepoel and Roglič reach the top, 30 seconds later. They've limited their losses well today. 

Evenepoel has upped the pace on the descent, and Roglič is struggling to hang on to him. 

A problem for Roglič, who has had to stop.

It seems he crashed.

Meanwhile the leaders are approaching the finish, 400 metres to go.

Vingegaard is being forced to lead out the sprint. 

He's slowed the pace and keeps looking behind him, in anticipation of the sprint.

Vingegaard goes, and Pogačar is struggling to pass him...

..Vingegaard wins!

Evenepoel arrives now, 25 seconds later.

Now here comes Roglič. The good news he's back on his bike, the bad news is he stands to lose time.

He reaches the line 55 seconds. That crash cost him about half a minute, and who knows what physical damage?

Now comes the next group, being led by Ciccone. He arrives at 1-46, followed by Almieda, Yates and Landa, with Rodríguez distenced by a few seconds at the end. 

Pogačar must have been tired by the finish, as you'd never normally expect him to lose to Vingegaard in a sprint. 

Jonas Vingegaard

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Vingegaard is getting very emotional during the post-race interview, talking about how he got from his crash a few months ago to here. For a man who rearely shows emotion, that must have meant an awful lot to him.

Here are today's stage rankings:

And here' the updated GC. Despite his losses, Evenepoel just about hangs on to second overall.

Vingegaard had to dig deep right to the line, but just about had the energy to celebrate after crossing it. 

Incidentally, Pogačar took enough points to move into the lead of the King of the Mountains classification, but Abrahamsen will still wear the polka-dot jersey tomorrow as the Slovenian sports yellow.

That was yet another epic battle between the two great Tour de France contenders of their generation, Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard. Pogačar defends the yellow jersey for now, only conceding one second due to bonus seconds earned earlier in the stage, but this was a victory for Vingegaard, both in terms of the stage win, and the psychological blow of coming back from so far behind to catch his rival on terrain supposedly better suited to him.

Some news coming in now - it seems Primož Roglič has been reprieved, and been awarded the same time as Remco Evenepoel. His crash came within the final 3km, so, despite this not being a sprint stage, so he will only lose 25 seconds to the two leaders, rather than 55. 

Primož Roglič came down with 1.1km to go on the way to the finish line in Le Lioran. Here are some details on his unplanned episode in the chase with Evenepoel.

Roglič shown here crossing the finish line in fourth, giving same time as Evenepoel

"Now we can all say that it's verified that he's in top shape. He beat me really good on the line. I did a pretty good sprint after that kind of stage. So it was a really tough day, but I enjoyed it, and it was a really beautiful day out there," Pogačar said about the two-up sprint against Vingegaard.

Vingegaard was quite emotional at the finish, saying: "I made it back and started relaying with him, and yeah, bit surprised I could beat him in the sprint. But of course, yeah, it means so much to me. I'm so happy about the victory today. It's yeah, it's really, I would never have thought this three months ago.

More on Jonas Vingegaard in our latest story from stage 11 at the Tour de France.

He’s still in the game. Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) came through an arduous stage 11 of the Tour de France with his second place overall still intact despite losing 25 seconds to top favourites Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease A Bike). And as the Belgian pointed out, time-wise, the size of his setback was smaller than in the Alps, too.

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