TDF Stage 11: So, Who’s Fastest Now?

This 167.5 km stage from Blaye les Mines to Lavaur was mostly flat with some short, steep hills

Mark Cavendish wins Stage 11, and slips into the Green Jersey lead. Photo ASO Pool

in the last hour, followed by a mostly flat final 15 km,  suitable for a mass sprint at the finish.

Would the rivalry we saw between Greipel and Cavendish in stage 10 play out again on this course? And if so, who would win in a pure Mano a Mano sprint today?

We had the answer in a triumphant Mark Cavendish, as he beat Andre Greipel to the line. But it was the getting there that made the story.

Remember on yesterday’s stage the HTC Highroad team had planned early on for a sprint by Matt Goss which backfired when Goss was dropped in the final climb at the finish by a push at the front and acceleration started by Phillipe Gilbert of the Omega Pharma Lotto team.

Though Gilbert himself did not win the final sprint, his aggressive moves shed Goss and Mark Renshaw, two of Cavendish’s main lead out men.

Cavendish also found himself out in front, taking the lead out on the sprint, which allowed Greipel to not only take his wheel but to use the Manx man’s draft.

Greipel was triumphant, and his win added fuel to the media theme revolving around that there was a major rivalry between the two that was now vindicated by Greipel’s win.

But not today, and in a final sprint to the finish, even drafting behind the fastest man on earth, Greipel could not get the better of his previous team mate.

One thing we predicted, the Cav’ doesn’t have to be taught the same lesson twice: one humiliation and mistake is enough for him to correct his move the second time.

For one, he wasn’t going to pull along his former teammate on the HTC-Columbia team: the German allegedly left the team because he wasn’t given enough opportunities to sprint in major finishes.

In a tweet after the race he said, “WOW! @TheDPate and Lars Bak held 6 strong guys at 3mins! How could I not win after that? @mark_renshaw super cool in last km. Super happy.”

In other words, he got his famous lead out, especially with Mark Renshaw–and it worked.

Later Cavendish learned the Green Jersey had switched to his hands, thanks to a win in the intermediate sprint as well. “Also, finally got my grubby little Manx mitts on the Green Jersey. We will try & keep it until Paris. 2 more sprints.. Montpellier & Paris!”

Despite his 18 stage wins, this is the first time that Cavendish has held the Green Jersey in this year’s Tour. The last time he wore the Green Jersey in the Tour was in 2009.

But it is clear that the race director of HTC Highroads made the right decision: there is only one Cav’ the Manxman, fastest man on earth.  Cavendish’s wheels seemed to say as he crossed the finish line, “So there!, griping Greipel!”

Among the top contenders, Thomas Voeckler, Luis Leon Sanchez, and Cadel Evans retained their top three positions. Frank and Andy Schleck stayed in fifth and sixth positions.

Alberto Contador who started this year’s Tour as the favorite to win the overall was still in 16th position. The Spaniard has been complaining of a hurt knee since his last fall in Stage 9.

Yesterday he issued a statement that he had hurt his knee and would be undergoing acupuncture in an effort to resolve the pain.

“1:30de bici y descansando con acupuntura pa la rodilla.Today1:30riding&relax,acupuncture for my kneehttp://yfrog.com/kjfh8fj,” he wrote on his Twitter account in both Spanish and English.

Acupuncture needles in the famous knee of Alberto Contador who has been complaining of knee problems since a fall in Stage 9t

A drenching rain falling towards the finish threatened to ruin the final sprint: At 15 km to go, a break was ahead of the peloton by 49 seconds, but the pack behind was traveling at 75 km per hour, and a sprint finish was almost assured.

At 7.2 km to the finish the break was still ahead by 29 seconds, and despite a spectacular speed, the peloton was not gaining as fast on the break riders as they should have.

Soaking with pouring rain, the HTC Highroads and BMC teams controlled the pace at the front, the first team looking for a win for Cavendish, and the latter looking to retain the advantage of their third place overall contender, Cadel Evans.

Headed by Fabian Cancellara of Leopard Trek followed behind those riders to protect the positions of the fifth and sixth overall riders Frank and Andy Schleck.

Alessandro Pettachi’s team, Lampre were also looking for a win for their favorite rider and came to the front 5.5 km from the finish.

Ahead of them and about to be absorbed was a six man breakaway that was 29 seconds ahead of the pack.

Soon that gap narrowed to nine seconds, and at 2.3 km the peloton overtook the final Rabobank break rider.

Garmin Cervelo and Sky Team came to the front with less than 1 km to go, Julian Dean, Thor Hushovd, and Andre Greipel were in the mix, and Tyler Farrar wasn’t far behind. But it was the Manx Missile that held off his competitors to the end, besting Greipel to the line.

Play by Play

There was rain at the start of Stage 11 from Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur, and would include two categorized climbs, the category 3 cote de Tonnac (at 28.5km) and the category 4 cote de Puylaurens (135.5km). The intermediate sprint was in Gaillac (at 85km).

An early break of six riders began at the 13.5km mark and included
Delage (FDJ) again, followed by Perez Moreno (EUS), Boom (RAB), Grivko (AST), Valentin (COF) and Engoulvent (SAU).

Boom was first over the initial climb when the break had a lead over the pack by four minutes and 15 seconds.

Back in the peloton, two HTC riders rode at the front, with the Europcar team following. 
It was a risky bet that the team would not tire too much before the final sprint.

Delage’s early initiative meant that he would become the rider who has spent more time in breaks than any other in the 2011 Tour, or for 392 km out of the 1,749 km cycling in the Tour so far.

Delage lead the escape over the line for the intermediate sprint in Gaillac, and behind them HTC led out the sprint for Cavendish. Four HTC riders also took points behind the sprinter.

The wind picked up and a tailwind pushed the peloton along at a rapid pace after the sprint in Gaillac.

With 40k m to go, rain started to belt the riders. Though the break was 2 minutes and 30 seconds ahead, their advantage dropped quickly with the HTC team at the helm, as well as Lang (OLO), Hejsdal (GRM) and, later, Gerrans (SKY) pedaling at the front.

With 35km to go, the advantage had narrowed to one minute and 35 seconds. Delage took on points on the Puylarense climb: With 10km to go, the peloton had HTC and BMC at the front just 30 seconds behind the break.

Then with 4.8 km to go, Boom attacked the lead group. But with the peloton behind by just 11 seconds, first the remaining five riders were swallowed up, and then Boom was eclipsed at 2.8 km to the finish.

OVERALL STANDING AT THE END OF STAGE 11: Source: ASO

1. VOECKLER Thomas 181 TEAM EUROPCAR 45h 52′ 39″
2. SANCHEZ Luis-Leon 47 RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 45h 54′ 28″ + 01′ 49″
3. EVANS Cadel 141 BMC RACING TEAM 45h 55′ 05″ + 02′ 26″
4. SCHLECK Frank 18 TEAM LEOPARD-TREK 45h 55′ 08″ + 02′ 29″
5. SCHLECK Andy 11 TEAM LEOPARD-TREK 45h 55′ 16″ + 02′ 37″
6. MARTIN Tony 175 HTC – HIGHROAD 45h 55′ 17″ + 02′ 38″
7. VELITS Peter 179 HTC – HIGHROAD 45h 55′ 17″ + 02′ 38″
8. KLÖDEN Andréas 74 TEAM RADIOSHACK 45h 55′ 22″ + 02′ 43″
9. GILBERT Philippe 32 OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO 45h 55′ 34″ + 02′ 55″
10. FUGLSANG Jakob 13 TEAM LEOPARD-TREK 45h 55′ 47″ + 03′ 08″
11. BASSO Ivan 91 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 45h 56′ 15″ + 03′ 36″
12. CUNEGO Damiano 161 LAMPRE – ISD 45h 56′ 16″ + 03′ 37″
13. ROCHE Nicolas 101 AG2R LA MONDIALE 45h 56′ 24″ + 03′ 45″
14. DE WEERT Kevin 124 QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM 45h 56′ 26″ + 03′ 47″
15. GESINK Robert 41 RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 45h 56′ 40″ + 04′ 01″
16. CONTADOR Alberto 1 SAXO BANK SUNGARD 45h 56′ 46″ + 04′ 07″
17. DANIELSON Tom 52 TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO 45h 57′ 01″ + 04′ 22″
18. TAARAMAE Rein 151 COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 45h 57′ 31″ + 04′ 52″
19. VANDE VELDE Christian 58 TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO 45h 57′ 32″ + 04′ 53″
20. SANCHEZ Samuel 21 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 45h 57′ 40″ + 05′ 01″
21. BARREDO Carlos 42 RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 45h 57′ 43″ + 05′ 04″
22. KARPETS Vladimir 191 KATUSHA TEAM 45h 57′ 44″ + 05′ 05″
23. MONFORT Maxime 15 TEAM LEOPARD-TREK 45h 57′ 46″ + 05′ 07″
24. HUSHOVD Thor 51 TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO 45h 57′ 52″ + 05′ 13″
25. ZUBELDIA Haimar 79 TEAM RADIOSHACK 45h 57′ 53″ + 05′ 14″
26. JEANNESSON Arnold 134 FDJ 45h 58′ 00″ + 05′ 21″
27. PERAUD Jean-Christophe 108 AG2R LA MONDIALE 45h 58′ 11″ + 05′ 32″
28. MILLAR David 56 TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO 45h 58′ 11″ + 05′ 32″
29. RUIJGH Rob 208 VACANSOLEIL-DCM 45h 58′ 22″ + 05′ 43″
30. CASAR Sandy 131 FDJ 45h 58′ 22″ + 05′ 43″
31. THOMAS Geraint 117 SKY PROCYCLING 45h 58′ 30″ + 05′ 51″
32. LEUKEMANS Bjorn 205 VACANSOLEIL-DCM 45h 59′ 05″ + 06′ 26″
33. COPPEL Jérôme 211 SAUR-SOJASUN 45h 59′ 14″ + 06′ 35″
34. GERDEMANN Linus 14 TEAM LEOPARD-TREK 45h 59′ 19″ + 06′ 40″
35. LEIPHEIMER Levi 75 TEAM RADIOSHACK 45h 59′ 55″ + 07′ 16″
36. URAN Rigoberto 118 SKY PROCYCLING 45h 59′ 59″ + 07′ 20″
37. HAGEN Edvald Boasson 114 SKY PROCYCLING 46h 00′ 24″ + 07′ 45″
38. DEVENYNS Dries 125 QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM 46h 00′ 55″ + 08′ 16″
39. GUSEV Vladimir 194 KATUSHA TEAM 46h 01′ 24″ + 08′ 45″
40. GAUTIER Cyril 183 TEAM EUROPCAR 46h 01′ 51″ + 09′ 12″
41. ROLLAND Pierre 188 TEAM EUROPCAR 46h 01′ 59″ + 09′ 20″
42. VERDUGO Gorka 29 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 46h 03′ 11″ + 10′ 32″
43. TROFIMOV Yury 199 KATUSHA TEAM 46h 04′ 01″ + 11′ 22″
44. PATERSKI Maciej 96 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 46h 04′ 49″ + 12′ 10″
45. MARTINEZ Egoi 23 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 46h 05′ 45″ + 13′ 06″
46. VANENDERT Jelle 38 OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO 46h 06′ 16″ + 13′ 37″
47. TEN DAM Laurens 48 RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM 46h 07′ 20″ + 14′ 41″
48. HINCAPIE George 144 BMC RACING TEAM 46h 07′ 32″ + 14′ 53″

STAGE STANDING AT END OF STAGE 11: Source: ASO

1. CAVENDISH Mark 171 HTC – HIGHROAD 3h 46′ 07″
2. GREIPEL André 33 OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
3. FARRAR Tyler 54 TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
4. GALIMZYANOV Denis 193 KATUSHA TEAM 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
5. HAGEN Edvald Boasson 114 SKY PROCYCLING 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
6. FEILLU Romain 201 VACANSOLEIL-DCM 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
7. ROJAS Jose Joaquin 88 MOVISTAR TEAM 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
8. TURGOT Sébastien 189 TEAM EUROPCAR 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
9. VENTOSO Francisco 89 MOVISTAR TEAM 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
10. BONNET William 132 FDJ 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
11. JEANNESSON Arnold 134 FDJ 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
12. CIOLEK Gerald 123 QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
13. DELAPLACE Anthony 213 SAUR-SOJASUN 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
14. HINAULT Sébastien 105 AG2R LA MONDIALE 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
15. MEERSMAN Gianni 135 FDJ 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
16. ROELANDTS Jurgen 35 OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
17. URTASUN PEREZ Pablo 27 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
18. RENSHAW Mark 177 HTC – HIGHROAD 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
19. RUIJGH Rob 208 VACANSOLEIL-DCM 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
20. VAITKUS Tomas 68 PRO TEAM ASTANA 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
21. DUMOULIN Samuel 153 COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
22. DE WEERT Kevin 124 QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
23. BOZIC Borut 202 VACANSOLEIL-DCM 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
24. THOMAS Geraint 117 SKY PROCYCLING 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
25. COYOT Arnaud 212 SAUR-SOJASUN 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
26. CANCELLARA Fabian 12 TEAM LEOPARD-TREK 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
27. MARCATO Marco 206 VACANSOLEIL-DCM 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
28. PETACCHI Alessandro 169 LAMPRE – ISD 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
29. SCHLECK Andy 11 TEAM LEOPARD-TREK 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
30. LANG Sebastian 34 OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
31. VANENDERT Jelle 38 OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
32. DUQUE Leonardo 154 COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
33. CUNEGO Damiano 161 LAMPRE – ISD 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
34. GUSEV Vladimir 194 KATUSHA TEAM 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
35. VANDE VELDE Christian 58 TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
36. MARTIN Tony 175 HTC – HIGHROAD 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″
37. TAARAMAE Rein 151 COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 3h 46′ 07″ + 00′ 00″