Chris Froome (Sky) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) formed an unlikely alliance on stage 11 of the 2016 Tour de France on Wednesday to cause a major upset, with Sagan winning and race leader Froome placing second.
Froome and Sagan had made the most of windy conditions to attack off the front of the peloton alongside Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff) in the final 10km. The Sky-Tinkoff quartet left Froome’s overall rivals stranded, with Sagan taking his second stage victory and Froome gaining more seconds in the general classification.
Froome has stretched his lead over Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) in the general classification to 28 seconds, with Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) in third at 31 seconds. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is fourth at 35 seconds.
Crosswinds had caused the peloton to maintain a high pace throughout the stage, with splits and echelons forming on more exposed sections of the coastal route from Carcassonne. With nerves high, there were several minor crashes also causes riders to get dropped from the bunch.
Froome was positioned near the front of the peloton for much of the day to try and keep out of trouble, both for keeping in touch with any splits and to keep out of the way of crashes. This played into his hands with 10km to go, as Froome, Thomas, Sagan and Bodnar created a gap after Sagan attacked.
The four riders stretched out their lead, as the shocked sprinters’ teams and rival GC riders tried desperately to organise a chase. But it was too late, and Sagan and Froome were away to create a remarkable finish to what should have been a relatively tame stage.
Several riders lost significant time to Froome, with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) caught in a trailing group and losing 1-09, causing them to drop out of the top 10 overall. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) benefited, moving into ninth and 10th overall respectively.
Watch: Tour de France 2016 stage 11 highlights
Earlier in the day, Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling) and French champion Arthur Vichot (FDJ) had been in an escape, but they were caught with 61km to go to bring the bunch together.
On Thursday, the race goes distinctly uphill, with stage 12 scheduled to finish on Mont Ventoux. However, high winds are forecast and a decision may be made on Wednesday evening whether to shorten the stage and move the finish to Chalet Reynard rather than the summit of Ventoux.
Tour de France 2016, stage 11: Carcassonne to Montpellier, 162.5km
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff in 3-26-23
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
3. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff at same time
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 6 secs
5. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
6. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
7. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
8. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
9. Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
10. Oliver Naesen (Bel) IAM Cycling at same time
General classification after stage 11
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky in 52-34-37
2. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Bike Exchange at 28 secs
3. Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx-QuickStep at 31 secs
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 35 secs
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 56 secs
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r at 56 secs
7. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky at 56 secs
8. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar at 1-13
9. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 1-13
10. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff at 1-28