France’s Tony Gallopin takes Tour’s 11th stage
Daring break by Nicolas Roche saw Irishman reeled in by the chasing pack with 16km to go
Lotto-Belisol team rider Tony Gallopin of France sprints to win the 187.5-km 11th stage of the Tour de France between Besancon and Oyonnax. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen / Reuters
France’s Tony Gallopin held off a charging peloton to claim victory on stage 11 of the Tour de France in Oyonnax after a daring breakaway fom Nicolas Roche saw the Irishman eventually swallowed up by the pack 16km from home.
Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) apologised for his performance on Bastille Day on Monday when he lost the yellow jersey after wearing it for a single day. He made amends as the Tour resumed following a day’s rest with the 187.5-kilometre route from Besancon, his daring late move rewarded with a first stage success.
His margin of victory was less than a bike length in the end as John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) was second, with Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) third. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was 20th to retain the race leader’s yellow jersey, with the top of the overall classification largely unchanged.
Richie Porte (Team Sky) was 24th on the day to stay two minutes 23 seconds behind Nibali in second overall. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains third, 2mins 47secs behind.
Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) formed the day’s main breakaway.
Elmiger was the last survivor on the fourth and final categorised climb of the day, the Cote d’Echallon, but was swiftly overtaken as Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) broke clear and put 19 seconds between himself and the pack at one stage.
Gallopin, Monday’s maillot jaune, burst clear alone on the downhill in a bid for victory. Sagan, Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) joined the Frenchman with 4km to go.
Gallopin then burst again with 2.5km to go, with three riders behind him and the peloton closing fast. Kwiatkowski and Rogers refused to work with Sagan, knowing the Slovakian would beat them in a sprint. The lack of cooperation left Sagan aghast — he eventually finished ninth — and worked to Gallopin’s advantage as the peloton converged on his pursuers and then ran out of space to hunt down the Frenchman.
A major subplot of the day was Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), who won traditional Tour warm-up the Criterium du Dauphine in June and began the Tour as a podium contender.
A number of heavy crashes in the first 10 stages left him struggling, his back particularly problematic, and his travails continued even after a day’s rest.
The American was dropped midway along the route and, tellingly, none of his team-mates fell back to support him.
At one point Talansky slumped by the roadside, fighting tears, before continuing in a battle to finish after a long discussion with Garmin sports director Robbie Hunter.
As Gallopin crossed the line, Talansky still had work to do to finish inside the time cut and ensure he would start Thursday’s 12th stage.