Sagan wins Tour stage 11, canny Froome extends lead

Sagan wins Tour stage 11, canny Froome extends lead

Sagan wins Tour stage 11, canny Froome extends lead

The flat stage normally would have ended with a mad dash to the line between sprint specialists.

"I would have liked to let Bodnar win the stage but Froome wanted to take a maximum of seconds so I to go for the stage win because that's what we had worked for". The victory today went to Peter Sagan of Tinkoff, who already has what seems an unassailable lead in the point competition.

A two-man breakaway set off onto the wide open plains on a stage where wind promised to be a complicating factor.

Stage victor Sagan said: "When we rode away with Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, we had no breath to talk". "I think it's the right thing to do". "It's a magnificent climb and very important for me", said the Colombian.

"Given the weather conditions predicted by Meteo France at the Mont Ventoux summit and the fact winds topping 100kmh have been recorded there, Tour organisers have made a decision to change the finish to the 12th stage in order to guarantee safety", a statement from Tour organisers read.

Froome conquered Ventoux on the way to his first Yellow Jersey triumph three years ago and he said: "Of course I was looking forward to doing Ventoux, it's the most iconic climb, the most legendary climb in this year's race".

He's gained time on both those stages - 23sec on stage seven and 12sec on Wednesday, bonuses included - but acknowledged that the extra effort could work against him.

Britain's Chris Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, crosses the finish line of the eleventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 162.5 kilometers (100.7 miles) with start in Carcassonne and finish in Montpellier, France, Wednesday, July 13, 2016. "I attack downhill and on the flat just because I enjoy it, I'm not forced to it because of the pressure".

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.

"Not at all, we didn't speak", said Thomas.

"He (Froome) took advantage of this moment and took some seconds but nothing has been decided yet", said Quintana. "We were at the front all day just waiting for something to go and then Sagan and Bodnar just went and that was it". From early on that proved the case as several crashes occurred in the bunch, one notably involving French climber Thibaut Pinot.

As winds fanned a forest fire nearby, Vichot and Howard continued to blaze a trail out in front, opening up a lead of around four minutes.

At one point the quartet had a lead of more than 20 seconds on the run-in to Montpellier as rivals panicked behind them, evidently caught by surprise and unable to organise the chase until it was too late.

" Today everybody was like "it's insane wind, it's insane wind".

"Tomorrow (Thursday) I'll just do my thing".

The finish has been brought 6km down the mountain to the Reynard Chalet, removing a large part of the toughest climb, usually 21km long, on this year's race. He was joined by Sagan and Matthews in the highly technical descent to the spa town of Ax-les-Thermes, made even more unsafe by thick fog.

"Alone? No - at every moment we were where we were able to put ourselves", said Alejandro Valverde when asked if the team had left it's leader isolated, explaining that there was only a brief moment when he lost track of Quintana.

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