Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step) won his fifth stage of the 2017 Tour de France on stage 11’s run-in to Pau, beating Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) to the line after a late surge.
Boasson Hagen was the first man to unleash his sprint in earnest with around 150m to go, with Kittel making his move in the middle of the road to the left of Boasson Hagen shortly after and once again looked like he was simply coasting to victory.
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Groenewegen jumped on Kittel’s wheel and was able to follow the German in for second place. Michael Matthews (Sunweb) took fourth and some green jersey points, though Kittel was able to extend his lead in that jersey.
With his fifth win, Kittel will be eyeing emulating Mark Cavendish‘s haul of six stages in the 2009 Tour, with three possible sprint stages still to come at the 2017 Tour.
It wasn’t completely straightforward for Kittel and his Quick-Step team however, as they were made to work hard by Bora-Hansgrohe’s Maciej Bodnar, who attacked solo from the day’s original breakaway and held out until 250m to go before being caught by the sprinters.
Bodnar was joined by Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) in the day’s break, which went from the flag drop.
They established a maximum gap of around four minutes, but spent much of the day at 2-30 with the peloton keeping them within their grasp.
On a relatively uneventful day at the Tour, a crash at the feedzone with just over 90km to go saw one of Fabio Aru’s key Astana helpers, Dario Cataldo, fall and abandon the race with his injuries.
There was another small crash on the only categorised climb of the day with around 50km to go, as Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) took a small tumble. That caused a brief split in the peloton but everything was back together shortly after the climb.
Bodnar then decided to have a go solo with around 25km remaining with a 40 second gap to the bunch, while his former breakaway companions slipped backwards.
Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) then had a crash at 22km to go with team-mate Michael Gogl, but looked uninjured as he was paced back to the bunch by Jarlinson Pantano.
Bodnar valiantly held out for almost the entire race, but was eventually caught as he tired and Kittel was able to use his immense sprinting power to claim a fifth stage victory.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) safely navigated the 203.5km route and retains the overall lead heading into the Tour’s second summit finish on stage 12 to Peyragudes in the Pyrenees.
Tour de France 2017 stage 11: Eymet to Pau (203.5km)
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors, in 4-34-27
2 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
3 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
5 Daniel Mclay (GBr) Team Fortuneo – Oscaro
6 Davide Cimolai (Ita) FDJ
7 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
8 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
9 Ben Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates
10 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team, all same time
General classification after stage 11
1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky, 47-01-55
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana], at 18s
3. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 51s
4. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac, at 55s
5. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 1-37
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, at 1-44
7. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 2-02
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 2-13
9. Mikel Landa (Esp) Team Sky, at 3-06
10. George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 3-53