The beastly stage starting from Sorgues featured two ascents of the iconic Mont Ventoux over the 198km course, finishing at the bottom of the mountain in Malaucène.
It was a tense day for the sprinters as the stage opened with rapid racing from the flag, as teams battled to get into the breakaway, including Cavendish’s Deceuninck - Quick-Step team-mate Julian Alaphilippe.
The stage went to Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who won solo after making it into the day’s breakaway, with the Belgian champion finishing the stage with a time of 5-17-43, and an average speed of 37.5km/h.
That put the day’s time limit at around 47 minutes, or 15 per cent of the winner’s time.
Things looked close for Cavendish as reports from the roadside suggested he may be eliminated, but the Brit survived another day and finished the stage 40-40 behind the winner, surrounded by his team-mates Michael Mørkœv, Davide Ballerini, and Tim Declerq.
Ineos Grenadiers road captain Luke Rowe wasn't so fortunate, as he finished outside the limit and will not be taking to the start of stage 12, his team confirmed.
After a gutsy ride today we're sad to confirm that @LukeRowe1990 has crossed the line outside the time limit and will not be able to start tomorrow's stage #TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/FEw4n8T8C1July 7, 2021
It was a close call for Team DSM’s Søren Kragh Andersen on stage 11, who made the time cut by around three seconds, finishing 47-36 down on Van Aert.
Cavendish keeps the green jersey for another day, having won three stages of this year’s Tour, including stage 10 into Valence.
He now has another opportunity to add to his tally on day 12, a 159km run from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Nîmes, which could be decided in the crosswinds.
Cavendish leads the points classification with 218 points, ahead of Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) on 160.
This is the second time Cavendish has had to fight hard to stay in the 2021 Tour, having arrived in Tignes on stage nine with 90 seconds to spare. Meanwhile a number of other riders including Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Nic Dlamini (Qhubeka-NextHash) were eliminated.
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