TdF 11: A Stressful Day

Windy, nervous, stressful. Riders know:

Mark Cavendish:
"When you're in this part of France & you're woken by the wind banging the shutters of your bedroom window, it's not likely to be a calm day on the bike!"

Tom Dumoulin:
"Todays stage will probably be nice to watch on tv. For us riders? Not so much... ‪#‎wind‬ ‪#‎stress‬"

Indead, a lot of small crashes already dotted the race, and we are only 30 km in. The last crash brought down Georges Bennet - who looked sore -  and Thibaut Pinot, in Polka Dot jersey, who's now forced to chase. Edward Theuns is spotted at the race doctor car.

Leigh Howard and Arthur Vichot are out the front, around 3' ahead the peloton. On paper this one is for the sprinters, but keep out: stressful, nervous and windy it's going to be a tricky stage, also for the gc riders.
As far as me, I'm back in the country home but leaving in few days to the Tour de France, so you are advised: expect soon a poor live coverage but afterward a great reportage ;)
Talking about the fight for the final victory, Alberto Contador abandoned - nothing broken but a muscolar tear - and Fabio Aru lost a lot of time.
First KOM of the day, a 4th cat. so just 1 point, and Arthur Vichot takes it. He takes also the second one, still just 4th cat. so 1 point. Thibaut Pinot will keep his Jersey.
It windy indead: Team Tinkoff goes in front and tries to split the peloton. As a consequence the gap is down to 2'. And the peloton split! there are 85 km to the finish still it could be late for somebody. The gap between the 1st part of the peloton and the the 2nd one is about 40', Pinot, Kelderman, Van den Broeck, Impey and Matthews have been caught behind, Mollema is in front with the most of the gc riders.
After a 10 kms the peloton is back together - not Matthews, in a group 36" behindand the break just 1'40'' away. But how much has the split cost? Trek speeds up and the peloton splits again in many groups.
The break-away is almost over, only 20'' ahead. No big fish in the net it seems, so the pace slows down and the main peloton regroups.
60 km to go Team Sky takes the lead, the break is caught and the peloton is in pieces again.
50 km to go, a crash in a corner involves Gatto, Wagner, Caruso, Majka and Anacona. The peloton keeps splitting and regrouping, it's quite a carnage. Riders proved right. I had no doubt...
Intermediate sprint: Marcel Kittel wins on Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish. F. Schleck, E. Theuns and P. Stetina are not in the front group but Mollema and the rest of Trek are. Wilco Kelderman is also up there.
Red old roofs gathered in the middle of green fields, it looks like Italy but is the south of France. 35 km to go the peloton is all back together and that means riders can finally go taking food and water. 
Montpellier is waitng, probably a bunch sprint.... but 11 km to go the peloton splits again! what a crazy finale! Bodnar, Sagan, Froome and Thomas break away! they have already a 10''.
Mark Cavendish got a mechanical problem and is dropped
The gap is quickly increasing: 3 km to go it's about 25''. Rodriguez, Meintjes and Rolland are caught behind in a group at 1:05 In the peloton it's a desperate chase. In front Bodnar is powering to the finish, Sagan on his wheel.
Peter Sagan takes the victory. A really odd one. And Chris Froome gains some good seconds on everybody else. Well played Team Sky! well played!

Peter Sagan:
"Froomey and Geraint Thomas came with us. I said, ‘We are too strong. They’re never going to catch us.’ We just pulled very hard and it happened. It’s unbelievable. Today everybody was like, ‘It’s crazy wind, it’s crazy wind.’ And just crazy wind was last 15km, or 12, I don’t know how much. It was not planned. It was like, it was dangerous you have to stay in the front. The bunch is going to split for sure. But you go in a breakaway with green jersey and yellow jersey and two guys like Bodnar and Thomas, you cannot plan that. It just happened. I hope everyone had fun today. I was hurting but enjoyed it too. I hope it’s fun to at least watch. It was an improvised attack. I’m just really happy we made it to the finish. It just happened, we didn’t make any more calculations. We got a gap and then when we had five metres I looked back and decided to go for it. Then they came with us, all four of us worked like crazy.
"I was happy because I bet everything on an attack. I could have lost the green jersey because if they’d caught I wouldn’t have won the sprint but it worked out well." 

Chris Froome:
"I can’t believe what happened out there. It was really difficult day but I relied on my teammates all day and they were always at the front and that allowed me to go with Sagan at the end."

Geraint Thomas:
"I was surprised as well. Sagan was just motoring. When they went, Froomey responded straightaway and behind him there was a gap, so I got up to him straightaway. I looked behind and there was a gap. I got across to them. It was full gas. We were at the front all day just waiting for something to go and then Sagan and Bodnar just went and that was it. When we got a gap and it was 15-20 seconds, we just committed then, but boy that was hard."

Dave Brailsfor:
"I think the guys are a mature bunch now and in those situations you have to concentrate. It’s all about being in position and feeling it and they can deliver now. They deliver for themselves, obviously, in the one-day races and we try to bring that a little bit into the race. Obviously we managed to just get on with it. To see G and Froome there at the front with Sagan, who was super strong. Sagan was super strong, you’ve got to say he was at a different level wasn’t he. But it's exciting isn’t it and that's what we're trying to do, to win a race, and instead of just waiting waiting, waiting we’re racing. Who knows what it’s going to bring us? We might win the race, we might not, but we’ll try and we’ll race hard all the way to Paris."

Mark Cavendish: 
"Shit happens, at least I didn't get beaten, that's the positive we can take home. The group went, we went to the front - Bernie went straight to the front. It was a bit choppy and 'ping' I hit my rear mech in someone's wheel. I don't know if it was my fault or their fault, that's irrelevant, really. My rear mech stopped working, I don't know if the electronic came out or I broke a spring. It wouldn't go lower than a 15, and you even can't keep up at 70kph. Because the bunch was in pieces there was no car behind, and that was it. I said there would be crosswinds. Where I was it didn't really split up. I thought we had quite a big bunch, I didn't realize it had split so much behind. At one point I wanted to get a breather, went a few lines back and was already at the back. I thought 'crist, it is pretty windy' Froome's attack doesn't surprise me actually, he's ridden quite an aggressive Tour. Fair play. It's quite nice for the race to see the green jersey and yellow jersey going up the road."

Fabio Aru:
"It was a tough stage for a lot of us but the team helped me a lot. I hope Luis Leon Sanchez is okay after his crash. He's an important rider for us. I’m not surprised what Froome did. He has won the Tour twice, so it's no surprise. We'll try to come up with something later in the race. There's a lot of racing to come yet."

Nairo Quintana: 
"It was a difficult day for me. There was a lot of wind and it was all flat. And the sprinters were favoured. Froome took a few seconds by taking advantage of the moment but I want to remain positive. We didn't crash while it was very nervous. Organisers are thinking about the show, but we take chances with our lives every day and especially in stages like this. Tomorrow I would have liked the stage to go to the top because it's an ideal climb for me. But anyway, there are still lots of days and mountains for me".

Richie Porte:
"It was so stressful and from kilometer 0 it was just shoulder to shoulder all day. The legs aren't too bad. Obviously when Chris Froome and the other guys skipped off it was just carnage. But I felt good, comfortable, and I'm just really looking forward to the mountains again. I guess Team Sky are taking time wherever they can get it but tomorrow's a different day and they may have to pay for their effort that they did there too."

Tejay van Garderen:
"To be honest I don't even really know what happened. The wind makes it crazy and stressful and I'm just glad to survive. It was an impressive ride by Chris Froome. But you don't look back, you just look forward. I got tangled up a bit in one of the crashes but I didn't go down thankfully. I had to chase back but Marcus Burghardt waited for me and I got back with no real issues. With 40 kilometer an hour winds we knew it was going to be a crazy day and I'm just glad to make it through."

Daniel Martin:
"The guys did a fantastic job to keep me at the front and I came through this extremely tough stage. We showed again that we have a very strong team. With 15 kilometers to go, things became totally crazy, but Tony saved me at that point and rode five kilometers in the wind for me. I lost some time on Froome, but so did everybody else, and to be quite frankly it's a small gap, not the end of the world. Actually, the hardest part of Mont Ventoux comes before Chalet-Reynard, where the stage will now conclude, so I still expect a tough stage. It's a pity that we will not get to climb to the top of this iconic ascent, as we all dream about it, but this is how things are."

Marcel Kittel:
"It was another hard day at the office. The pace was relentless and the fight for positioning really intense, as everybody wanted to get a place at the front. The guys kept me protected and worked hard to take care of me and Dan, who's doing a very good GC. Going into the last kilometers, Peter launched that attack which surprised the whole bunch, Froome responded, and as soon as they took 10 meters, it became obvious that it will be very difficult to bring back such a strong group. It's a pity, but the Tour is still long."

Bauke Mollema:
"It was a hectic day, from kilometer one!. I'm happy that I survived today, thanks to my teammates. At the end, I told Fabian and Rasty to pull and suddenly Sagan goes like a rocket! I didn't get into troubles today, but it was stressful."

Jasper Stuyven:
"I liked today!. We were in the front taking care of Bauke, keeping him safe when the echelons were there, and we never had problems. I liked it; it was fun. The only problem was it was hard to stay hydrated since the care were behind and it was a pretty hot day. At the end, I needed some water. I thought the sprinters' teams would pull [Froome, Sagan] back because there were still there with a lot of guys, but it appeared to be a hard day for everyone. I made a good sprint at the end; we did not sprint for first, but it was nice to be up there again."

Edward Thuens:
"I was good in the front until a corner that I missed a bit and found myself at the back where there was one crash after another. There was a crash, and everyone braked really hard. I also braked but could not stop fast enough and went into another rider. After that, I was hurting –my knee hurt a bit.  I could stay in the first echelon for a long time, but the whole time I was sitting in the back. I was not so good anymore after the crash, so it was not a nice day."

Bert-Jan Lindeman:
"I was not good enough for the breakaway. Starting with a climb is very hard. If you don’t have a good day then you're done. Normally, I come out of a rest day OK, but this time it was harder. If you are not in the breakaway then it is quite frustrating, but now we will focus on the next stages and we’ll fight to be in the escape."

Wilco Kelderman:
"The start was not really good, but I knew that everything would come together. I’m working on recovering after my crash. It cost me a lot of energy, but I feel it getting better every day. My wounds have to recover well and then I want to be in top shape for the Alps."

1.Peter Sagan
2.Chris Froome
3.Maciej Bodnar
4 Kristoff +6
5 Laporte +6
6 Stuyven +6
7 Boasson Hagen +6
8 Greipel +6
9 Holst Enger +6
10 Naesen +6
1 Froome
2 Yates +28
3 Martin +31
4 Quintana +35
5 Mollema +56
6 Bardet +56
7 Henao +56
8 Valverde +1:13
9 van Garderen +1:13
Yellow: Froome
Green: Sagan
White: Yates
Polka Dot: Pinot

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