Video footage captured by riders using on-board cameras during stage 11 of the 2016 Tour de France on Wednesday show just how frantic the stage was.

On paper, the 162.5-kilometre trip from Carcassonne to Montpelier should have been a relatively straightforward flat stage ending in a bunch sprint.

However, strong winds on the morning of the race made for a nervous start as the peloton kept the pace high, with general classification riders’ teams nervous about splits in the bunch caused by crosswinds.

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As the footage shows, the riders were going full pelt from the gun and the initial escape of Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Leigh Howard (IAM) was barely given any room.

Mistakes were made in the bunch, with a series of crashes seeing King of the Mountains Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) flip spectacularly into a ditch, and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) slide out in a town after riding over a speed bump.


The escape duo were caught with 61km to go, which only seemed to make the speed of the race and nerves increase.

At one point you see Ag2r rider Mikael Cherel giving a Cannondale-Drapac rider a hand-sling, which isn’t strictly within the rules.

Echelons started forming on the flatter, more exposed parts of the course but it was a move instigated by Peter Sagan and Tinkoff team-mate Maciej Bodnar that proved the GC contenders’ fears of getting caught on the wrong side of a split were well founded.

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Overall leader Chris Froome (Sky) quickly spotted the Sagan move, and was swiftly joined by team-mate Geraint Thomas as they formed a lead quartet with Sagan and Bodnar. They stayed away, with Sagan taking the stage and Froome second place – and gaining 12 seconds on his key rivals, including Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

The Tour de France continues on Thursday with stage 12, a shortened trip to Mont Ventoux.