Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) took his first ever Tour de France win after pipping Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) on the line on stage 11.
The Australian came from behind and timed his sprint perfectly to just edge the Dutchman by the finest of margins on the line, after a quiet final flat day before the course heads into the mountains.
Behind Groenewegen in second place Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) finished third, with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Jens Debusschere (Katusha-Alpecin) rounding out the top five.
Following a crash with 30km to go, which temporarily inconvenienced Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) was forced to abandon the race through injury, while Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) was caught up and rolled across the line 12 minutes down, sacrificing his top 10 spot on GC to Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).
How it happened
Following the first rest day, stage 11 provided the final opportunity for the sprinter’s to taste victory, with the next flat stage on stage 16 after the second rest day.
After a couple of early categorised climbs, the intermediate sprint point split the stage in two, with 80km left with nothing of note until the sprint finish.
Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin) was the only non-starter of the day, the German finishing dead last on stage 10, 21 minutes down, and is said to be suffering from flu.
The last time the race finished in Toulouse, Mark Cavendish sprinted to his second ever Tour stage victory. Eleven years later he’s not here and his Dimension Data team failed to get in the day’s break, as Lilian Calmejane (Total Direct Energie), Stéphane Rossetto and Anthony Perez (Cofidis), as well as Aimé De Gendt (Wanty-Gobert) went up the road.
Calmejane and Perez’s intent was clear, being born in the start town and finish towns respectively, with Perez taking the group over the summit of the third category Côte de Tonnac, maintaining a gap of three and a half minutes back to the peloton.
Perez also managed to pick up the the intermediate sprint, beating Aimé De Gendt on the line as Viviani pipped Sagan on the line as the peloton went over a few minutes later.
With less than 50km to go, the break’s lead was under a minute, which then stabilised as the peloton started to think about the finish.
A crash in the bunch brought down Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), with both somewhat lucky to have the other as their teams dropped back to drag them back up to the bunch.
Less fortunate was Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie), who was lying still on the ground being attended to by medics, soon abandoning the race. It’s so far been a 2019 to forget for the Dutchman, not long recovered from his crash at the Tour of Flanders earlier in the season.
Former yellow jersey holder Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) also looked to be in a bad way following the crash, dropping out of the top 10 on GC after rolling across the line 12 minutes down alongside Giacomo Nizzolo (Dimension Data).
With 10km left, Aimé De Gendt attacked from the breakaway as the peloton started to close in, as behind Jasper De Buyst ended up in a ditch by the side of the road after a touching of shoulders in the peloton.
De Gendt took his gap back out to 40 seconds with 8km left, eventually getting swept up by the punch with just under 5km to the finish line.
Alex Dowsett (Katusha-Alpecin) led the peloton out with 2km left, with Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe) soon taking over before Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) led down the finishing straight, peeling off as Dylan Groenewegen started his sprint.
With Viviani in his wheel, Caleb Ewan had to take a long way round, timing his sprint perfectly to edge Groenewegen on the line and take his first stage win.
Tour de France 2019, stage 11: Albi to Toulouse (167km)
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal, in 3-51-26
2. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
8. Cees Bol (Ned) Sunweb
9. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic, all at same time
General classification after stage eleven
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 47-18-41
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos, at 1-12
3. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos, at 1-16
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-27
5. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-45
6. Enric Mas (Esp) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 1-46
7. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1-47
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 2-04
9. Dan Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-09
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-33