Tour de France Diary, Stage 11: Rolland makes it two in a row for France
Last night’s stage 11 was the first genuine Alpine stage at this year’s Tour de France, a 148km journey from Albertville to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles.
The stage featured four challenging climbs, the first two hors category, and a category one summit finish.
The big mountains on the stage, the Col de la Madeleine and the Col de la Croix de Fer, are two of the Tour’s most celebrated climbs. The Madeleine has now featured at Le Tour on 24 occasions, the Croix de Fer on 16.
The final two climbs on the day were the category two Col du Mollard and the category one ascent to La Toussuire and the finish line.
It was the most decisive road stage thus far, but not in a good way for Australian Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who slid down to fourth in the general classification.
With the Madeleine behind the peloton, the stage was set for Evans to make his move on the slopes of the Croix de Fer.
Having sent teammate and white jersey holder Tejay van Garderen up the road, he did just that. But he did not have the legs to stay away.
As can be the way in professional cycling, Evans was chased down by two of his fellow countrymen – Team Sky’s Michael Rogers and Richie Porte.
Wiggins’ men never allowed the gap to become more than 15 seconds, steadily bringing the duo from BMC Racing back into the fold.
Always predicted to be a stage for the pure climbers, Pierre Rolland made it two stage wins in two days for France and for Team Europcar.
Stage eight winner Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Big Mat) secured a French one-two.
In these two riders, the home crowd has a lot to look forward to in years to come.
A transient group of eight to 10 led the way for much of the stage, as riders moved backwards or forwards – or both – through the undulating terrain.
Rolland’s teammate Christophe Kern was a force to be reckoned with on both of the day’s major climbs, setting a pace that was too much for Scarponi and Valverde, among a host of others.
On the Col du Mollard the lead group reduced to just four riders: Rolland, Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) and Vasili Kiryienka (Movistar).
Their advantage over the chase group, which contained Wiggins in the yellow jersey, ranged from two to four minutes. It was an insurmountable 3’30” at the start of the 18km climb to the finish.
After a short game of cat and mouse, Rolland managed to shake off Kiserlovski as Kiryienka and Sorensen languished further down the road.
Back in the main field, Pinot attacked alongside Jurgen Van Den Broek (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) and Janez Brajkovic (Astana). Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) followed soon afterwards.
For the first time this Tour it was left up to Bradley Wiggins to do his own chasing, as Chris Froome struggled to stay in contact.
Sadly the same was true of Evans, but unlike Froome the Victorian did not manage to reattach himself to the chase.
By stage end Evans had lost 1’26″. He is now 3’19″ behind Wiggins in the overall standings.
Dragging himself and Wiggins back to the group of Van Den Broek and Nibali, Froome even gapped his team leader and had to restrain himself from taking off solo.
Although he lost no time, Wiggins was put into real difficulty.
Prologue winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) did not start the stage, having abandoned overnight to support his heavily pregnant wife in Switzerland. Australian sprinter Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) withdrew mid-stage.
Tomorrow’s stage 12 features three climbs – two category ones and a category three.
The peloton will likely be fatigued after the long mountain passes on stage 11, making the 226km ride from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay conducive to another breakaway victory.
Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) may see it as his chance to make up for not winning from the break on stage eight.
Tour de France Stage 11 Results
Rider, Team, Points
1. ROLLAND Pierre, EUROPCAR, 04h 43′ 54″
2. PINOT Thibaut, FDJ-BIG MAT, 04h 44′ 49″ + 00′ 55″
3. FROOME Christopher, SKY PRO CYCLING, 04h 44′ 49″ + 00′ 55″
4. VAN DEN BROEK Jurgen, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 04h 44′ 51″ + 00′ 57″
5. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 04h 44′ 51″ + 00′ 57″
6. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PRO CYCLING, 04h 44′ 51″ + 00′ 57″
7. SORENSEN Chris Anker, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 04h 45′ 02″ + 01′ 08″
8. BRAJKOVIC Janez, ASTANA, 04h 45′ 52″ + 01′ 58″
9. KIRYIENKA Vasili, MOVISTAR, 04h 46′ 07″ + 02′ 13″
10. SCHLECK Frank, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 04h 46′ 17″ + 02′ 23″
Tour de France Points Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 232
2. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 205
3. GREIPEL Andre, LOTTO-BELISOL, 172
4. CAVENDISH Mark, SKY PRO CYCLING, 129
5. PETACCHI Alessandro, LAMPRE-ISD, 109
Tour de France KOM Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. KESSIAKOFF Fredrik, ASTANA, 66
2. ROLLAND Pierre, EUROPCAR, 55
3. SORENSEN Chris Anker, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 39
Tour de France Overall Standings
Rider, Team, Time, Gaps
1. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PROCYCLING, 48h 43’ 53″
2. FROOME Christopher, SKY PRO CYCLING, 48h 45’ 58″ + 02′ 05″
3. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 48h 46’ 16″ + 02′ 23″
4. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 48h 47’ 12″ + 03′ 19″
5. VAN DEN BROEK Jurgen, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 48h 48’ 41″ + 04′ 48″
6. ZUBELDIA Haimar, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 48h 50’ 08″ + 06′ 15″
7. VAN GADREREN Tejay, BMC RACING, 48h 50’ 50″ + 06′ 57″
8. BRAJKOVIC Janez, ASTANA, 48h 51’ 23″ + 07′ 30″
9. ROLLAND Pierre, EUROPCAR, 48h 52’ 24″ + 08′ 31″
10. PINOT Thibaut, FDJ-BIG MAT, 48h 52′ 44″ + 08′ 51″