The Green Jersey and Yellow Jersey sprinted to the stage finish line in Montpellier on Wednesday (13 July) as Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Chris Froome of Great Britain seized the opportunity to extend their leads on their rivals.
Strong winds on the long straight road to Montpellier strung out a peloton which had been bunched together a few kilometres earlier.
As riders lost protection from the wind they dropped into single file and gaps appeared.
The Tinkoff and Sky teams were at the front protecting their top riders, and Maciej Bodnar and Sagan grabbed the chance to attack 12 kilometres from the finish.
Froome, who seized the eighth stage win with a daringly fast descent, went on the attack and powered after Sagan. His team-mate Geraint Thomas also swooped in to join the bunch of four.
Together they extended a 19-second advantage over the other riders who had to ride against the wind as they chased the leading quartet.
Geraint Thomas was dropped before the finish but Bodnar, Froome and Sagan kept up their pace with Froome and Sagan sprinting against each other to the line.
Sagan took the stage win with Froome second and Bodnar third.
The Slovak’s win extends his lead in the green jersey race and is likely to have finished Mark Cavendish’s chances of taking that title. The Briton had been hoping to win a sprint in Montpellier to add to his three stage victories in this year’s Tour but he was left behind by a mechanical problem.
Froome also extended his 16-second advantage over his rivals, who he left waving in the wind.
The Sky team leader finished six seconds ahead of the pack in second place, which gives the defending Tour champion six bonus seconds, extending his lead by 12 seconds.
He now leads fellow Briton Adam Yates (Orica-Bike Exchange) by 28 seconds and Ireland’s Dan Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) by 31 while last year’s runner-up Nairo Quintana (Movistar) of Colombia lies fourth 35 seconds off the pace.
Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez, tipped as potential podium finisher, ended up 1:090 behind Sagan after being trapped behind by the bunch split on a windy day.
The much anticipated stage 12, featuring an ascent of the daunting Mont Venoux, has had to be shortened because very strong winds are expected at the summit of the mountain, 1912 metres above sea level. The finish will now be in a more sheltered location.
Results from Tour de France (Carcassonne – Montpellier, 162.5 km) on Wednesday 13 July
1. Peter Sagan (Slovakia / Tinkoff) 3:26:23″
2. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) ST
3. Maciej Bodnar (Poland / Tinkoff)
4. Alexander Kristoff (Norway / Katusha) +6″
5. Christophe Laporte (France / Cofidis)
6. Jasper Stuyven (Belgium / Trek)
7. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway / Dimension Data)
8. Andre Greipel (Germany / Lotto)
9. Sondre Enger (Norway / IAM Cycling)
10. Oliver Naesen (Belgium / IAM Cycling)
11. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa / Dimension Data)
12. John Degenkolb (Germany / Giant)
13. Dylan Groenewegen (Netherlands / LottoNL)
14. Daniel McLay (Britain / Fortuneo)
15. Adam Yates (Britain / Orica)
16. Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic / Tinkoff)
17. Nairo Quintana (Colombia / Movistar)
18. Simon Gerrans (Australia / Orica)
19. Shane Archbold (New Zealand / BORA)
20. Oscar Gatto (Italy / Tinkoff)
21. Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium / BMC Racing)
22. Fabio Aru (Italy / Astana)
23. Bryan Coquard (France / Direct Energie)
24. Tejay van Garderen (U.S. / BMC Racing)
25. Marcel Kittel (Germany / Etixx – Quick-Step)
26. Bauke Mollema (Netherlands / Trek)
27. Richie Porte (Australia / BMC Racing)
28. Michael Schaer (Switzerland / BMC Racing)
29. Romain Bardet (France / AG2R)
30. Sergio Henao (Colombia / Team Sky)
Classification from Tour de France after Stage 11 on Wednesday
1. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) 52:34:37″
2. Adam Yates (Britain / Orica) +28″
3. Daniel Martin (Ireland / Etixx – Quick-Step) +31″
4. Nairo Quintana (Colombia / Movistar) +35″
5. Bauke Mollema (Netherlands / Trek) +56″
6. Romain Bardet (France / AG2R)
7. Sergio Henao (Colombia / Team Sky)
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spain / Movistar) +1:13″
9. Tejay van Garderen (U.S. / BMC Racing)
10. Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic / Tinkoff) +1:28″
11. Fabio Aru (Italy / Astana) +1:35″
12. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain / Katusha) +1:52″
13. Louis Meintjes (South Africa / Lampre) +2:10″
14. Richie Porte (Australia / BMC Racing) +2:22″
15. Warren Barguil (France / Giant) +3:03″
16. Geraint Thomas (Britain / Team Sky) +3:32″
17. Pierre Rolland (France / Cannondale) +5:16″
18. Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands / LottoNL) +5:54″
19. Sebastien Reichenbach (Switzerland / FDJ) +6:37″
20. Damiano Caruso (Italy / BMC Racing) +6:50″
21. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Belgium / Katusha) +9:29″
22. Emanuel Buchmann (Germany / BORA) +10:03″
23. Mikel Nieve (Spain / Team Sky) +11:26″
24. Fraenk Schleck (Luxembourg / Trek) +15:08″
25. Mathias Frank (Switzerland / IAM Cycling) +15:56″
26. Eduardo Sepulveda (Argentina / Fortuneo) +18:12″
27. Tanel Kangert (Estonia / Astana) +18:37″
28. Thibaut Pinot (France / FDJ) +19:35″
29. Alexis Vuillermoz (France / AG2R) +20:59″
30. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain / Trek) +22:57″
Points Classification Tour de France after Stage 11 on Wednesday
1. Peter Sagan (Slovakia / Tinkoff) 309
2. Mark Cavendish (Britain / Dimension Data) 219
3. Marcel Kittel (Germany / Etixx – Quick-Step) 202
4. Michael Matthews (Australia / Orica) 124
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium / BMC Racing) 112
6. Bryan Coquard (France / Direct Energie) 112
7. Andre Greipel (Germany / Lotto) 99
8. Alexander Kristoff (Norway / Katusha) 92
9. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) 77
10. Thomas De Gendt (Belgium / Lotto) 65