Mark Cavendish made it four-for-four pack spring wins in today’s Stage 11 of the 2009 Tour de France, a relatively flat 192km affair from Vatan to St. Fargeau.
About 28km into it, J. Van Summeren (SIL) and M. Sapa (LAM) broke off and led for the next 160k while the peloton logged the miles and kept the contenders in check.
As they neared 16km from the line, the gap to the break was just 30 seconds and Columbia-HTC and Garmin Slipstream moved their riders to the front to position Oscar Freire, Tyler Farrar and, of course, Mark Cavendish for the sprint.
The final kilometer of the race was an uphill sprint to the line, and the other teams knew they couldn’t allow Columbia to control the front again like they did yesterday. By 10km to go, the gap had dropped to 21 seconds and, again, Columbia was virtually dominating the front of the peloton as the break came into view on the straights.
Van Summeren’s 150km break with Sapa almost made it to the end, but you can see the peloton behind near the end
Then, at 8km to go, the Milram team whipped up the right side of the road in a full paceline and Garmin’s David Zabriskie was killing himself to push the pace on the front, hoping Farrar could deliver the goods. Teammate Christian Vandevelde, unfortunately, wasn’t able to push the pace for his teammates after having wrecked twice earlier in the stage…but he finished with the pack, maintaining his 8th position in the overall.
With none of his teammates in the mix, Green Jersey wearer Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) used the other teams’ work to keep in position for the sprint.
At 5km to go, Van Summeren and Sapa had just an 8 second gap, looked back and saw the peloton and sat up to congratulate each other on a good break…then fell back to be consumed.
And consumed they were as Columbia continued to amp up the pace, making Milram, Garmin and Liquigas work to stay with them. Their relentless pace was led into the final uphill kilometer by Martin, Renshaw and Hincapie, Before they could fully peel away, Hushovd jumped from behind Cavendish and Farrar jumped from behind Hushovd, forcing Cavendish to react, immediately putting space between him and Hushovd. Farrar came alongside quickly, challenging all the way to the end, missing the win by only half a bike length.
Despite not wearing his green Oakleys today, the win puts Cavendish back in the Green Jersey (Hushovd ended up in 5th), giving him four stage wins this year and tying the record for total stage wins by a Brit (8).
Belgian Johan Van Summeren, who launched the break, won Most Aggressive Rider. Euskatel’s Martinez took today’s Polka Dot King of the Mountains jersey, making it a 20 point gap to the next runner up, but there are plenty of mountains to come, including a Category 3 and several 4’s in tomorrow’s Stage 12. (On Versus at 8:30am)
2009 TOUR de FRANCE STAGE 11 TOP 10
2009 TOUR de FRANCE OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 11
(NOTE: This is corrected from yesterday’s standings, which incorrectly showed Levi in 6th.)
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