Jonas Vingegaard outsprints Tadej Pogačar to claim victory on stage 11 – Tour de France

Tour de France 2024

Stage 11

Some 98 days after his horror crash at Itzulia Basque country, Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike) produced the most important moment of the 2024 Tour de France so far, mounting an incredible comeback ride to both pull back Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and beat him in the two-up sprint in Le Lioran after being dropped 31.6km from the finish.

In what was a remarkable signal of a complete return to form for Vingegaard, who was a question mark for even starting the 111th edition of the Tour, the two-time defending champion clawed back a 30-second deficit to the race leader on the Col de Pertus, before working together and stunning him in the final sprint.

Pogačar waited until the final 150 metres to launch his explosive charge for home but surprisingly, the yellow jersey never came out of the wheel and the Dane held on with a great break throw, only daring to celebrate his fourth Tour stage win past the line.

Evenepoel rode his own tempo on the final two climbs and recovered well to catch and faltering Roglič and manage third on the day only 25 seconds off the two men who’ve won the past four Tours. Roglič contrastingly seemed as though he let his podium challenge slip when he crashed on a corner nearing the final kilometre, but his 55-second deficit at the line was changed to the same 25 as Evenepoel thanks to the 3km rule being in play.

Nearly five hours of breathless racing and 211km later and only a photo finish could separate them, with Vingegaard gaining just one second in his pursuit of a third successive yellow jersey. It was a huge day for Visma-Lease a Bike and a big blow to the morale of UAE Team Emirates, who worked tirelessly all day to prevent a breakaway from stealing the day from their leader. In the end, it was his key GC rival who snatched it at the last.

The Slovenian held onto the yellow jersey of course as the two arrived together but Vingegaard landed a huge psychological blow heading towards the Pyrenees this weekend. Vingegaard also remained third on GC as Evenepoel worked hard behind as mentioned to limit the losses, with the debutant now 1:06 from Pogačar and the Dane 1:14.

“It’s of course very emotional for me. Coming back from the crash, it means a lot and all the things I went through in the last three months. It makes you think of that and I would never have been able to do this without my family,” said an emotional Vingegaard as the tears fell past the line.

“I mean I’m just happy to be here and it means so much to win a stage, especially to win it for my family. They were there supporting me the whole time.”

Vingegaard never gave up in the final 30kms when Pogačar dropped what looked to be a killing blow on his GC rivals, joining up with Roglič on the descent from Puy Mary before finding the strength to muster up a remarkable comeback and beat the Slovenian to the victory.

Jonas Vingegaard reacts as he crosses the line.

“I couldn’t follow the attack he had, it was very strong and I just had to fight. Actually, I didn’t think that I would be able to make it back but I just kept fighting and I made it back, started relaying with him and I’m a bit surprised I could beat him in the sprint,” said Vingegaard. “But of course it means so much to me and I’m so happy about the victory today. I would never have thought this three months ago.”

And for the Dane, it was never about the mind games which had been playing out in the media over the past few days, but only the will to win.

“I didn’t even think of that [a psychological battle]. I was only thinking about doing my own pace and then doing the sprint.”

There was nothing quiet about the start of stage 11 as racing properly got underway in the second week, with attacks coming right from the flag out of Évaux-les-Bains. A good half of the whole 171-rider peloton were interested and what unfolded was an absolutely breathless opening 90 kilometres.

EF Education-EasyPost showed their intentions as one of the most interested teams in the hotly contested breakaway formation, with all of Ben Healy, Richard Carapaz and Alberto Bettiol showing themselves in the opening two hours. Alongside Visma-Lease a bike who launched all of Wout van Aert, Bart Lemmen and Christophe Laporte at different points.

Small groups had some success such as that of Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ), Kévin Vauquelin (Arkéa-B&B Hotels) and Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X Mobility), but they weren’t given much advantage.

A big group had gone across to try and catch them with Van Aert, Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Healy and Stevie Williams (Israel-Premier Tech) all in there. But just as the catch was about to be made, Tim Wellens appeared on the front of the peloton and showed UAE Team Emirates and Pogačar’s intentions to control the day.

Control it they would but the peloton still fancied it in the undulating opening phase, with a multitude of attacks being launched at lightning pace leading things to stay together until the 135km to go mark.

One of the favourites for the stage, Carapaz, not on his first attempt, got off the front on the descent which led to the foot of the first categorised climb, the Côte de Mouilloux. He was alongside Mattéo Vercher (TotalEnergies) this time having failed to make an earlier move with Cristián Rodríguez (Arkéa-B&B Hotels) stick.

The likes of Jayco AlUla and Uno-X tried pacing at points to bring back moves having missed out on getting Simon Yates and Johannessen up into the break respectively.

Ben Healy rides at the head of the race.

Simultaneously, the peloton’s backdoors were blown wide open by the furious pace that was averaging close to 50kph in the opening 90 kilometres, quite a lot faster than every stage had started so far in this year’s Tour.

There were DNFs for Cofidis from Ion Izagirre and Alexis Renard, while Bahrain-Victorious struggled with what looked like illnesses as Fred Wright, Pello Bilbao and Matej Mohoric suffered at the back of the race, well off where they would usually be.

But with 130km to go and the first of six climbs tackled, the break of the day had finally formed. Joining Carapaz and Vercher in front was a very strong chase group of Healy, Oscar Onley (DSM-Firmenich PostNL), Paul Lapeira (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale) and Oier Lazkano (Movistar).

UAE finally let them get away but did quickly establish their position in control and the gap was kept within three minutes for much of the next phase. A few stragglers launched out of the bunch to try and make a last-ditch effort into the day’s break, but they were allowed as Pogačar had clearly given the call to end the all-out racing.

The quartet who went away and made it a group of 10 in front was comprised of Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Julien Bernard (Lidl-Trek), Bruno Armirail (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale) and Romain Grégoire (Groupama-FDJ).

The yellow helmets of the squad leading the team’s classification put their two rouleurs Wellens and Nils Politt back on the front with QuickStep and Visma just behind, keeping the pace high in anticipation of the climbing-backloaded final 50km of the 111th Tour’s second-longest stage.

While the break’s advantage seemed to head in the right direction as it reached 2:30, it looked as though they might be allowed to fight for the stage after all. But this was short-lived when Politt and Wellens properly got into their work on the approach to the key Col de Néronne and Puy Mary climbs.

Quickly, the deficit was down to 1:30 with 70km to go and it was looking more likely that Pogačar would have his way as he did for much of the Giro d’Italia. This would go out slightly as the roads kicked uphill to 1:55 but never did UAE let off the pace.

UAE Team Emirates were joined by Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale, Soudal-QuickStep and Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe on the front with 48km to go and the Néronne’s lower slopes incoming. This is where Politt handed over duties to Marc Soler to guide Pogačar and Co into the narrow climbing roads of the Massif Central.

The peloton tackles the gradient on stage 11.

Ineos and Visma took over on the front for Rodríguez and the infernal pace showed just what steep roads were incoming, with Van Aert moving into control for Visma. The Belgian then suffered a rare crash as he got it wrong on a corner, managing to not take anyone with him thankfully.

Sivakov, Almeida and Yates made up Pogačar’s train on the 3.8km climb, with the 9% average gradients thinning down the group significantly even with 44km left to ride.

The break, who were now just one minute ahead, started fracturing with the GC favourites closing in, prompting Lazkano and Healy to attack and leave the rest behind. Healy tried to help Carapaz initially but after realising he was stronger, set off alone to catch Lazkano, passing him before Col de Néronne the KOM point.

Carapaz, Lazkano and Healy soon formed a trio on the slopes of the Puy Mary but behind them, UAE were cooperating even better than they had on the Galibier as Juan Ayuso hit the front for his Slovenian leader, reducing the faltering remnants of the break’s advantage to under 15 seconds.

With 32km to go, everything started to change and the cream began rising to the top. Only Healy remained resolute in his effort but Adam Yates was putting the pressure on and soon ended the break. With the huge crowds welcoming the top riders only nine of the top climbers stayed with the Brit’s pace.

Not long after, Pogačar launched his move, 31.6km from the finish and nearing the top of Puy Mary. Vingegaard responded best with Roglič and Evenepoel both on a small gap, but the yellow jersey was moving away with a seven-second lead as he hit the infamous descent and approach to the Col de Pertus.

Things came together for all those chasing behind the race leader, who was more than honouring the yellow jersey with a stunning solo move. But once the roads began to go uphill again on the Col de Pertus, Vingegaard and Roglič looked to be the next best after Pogačar, with Evenepoel struggling again.

The Dane started finding his rhythm and dropped the Red Bull rider, who was faltering behind and being caught by Evenepoel who was riding at his own tempo. With Vingegaard flying on the inclines, Pogačar’s explosivity looked dampened and he was looking back for his rival.

Soon, the catch was made 14.8km from the line and just before the bonus sprint up to the crest of the Col de Portes. Pogačar saved his power and sprinted to the maximum eight seconds but Vingegaard looked ominous in his wheel, almost rounding him and taking five bonuses of his own.

The two best riders from the past three Tours rode well together, swapping turns and showing that any notion of a ‘big four’ was really a ‘big two’, but Evenepoel and Roglič were cooperating about 30 seconds back coming into the final twisty roads and finish line.

Vingegaard and Pogačar race towards the line.

Roglič suffered a late crash which seemed as though it was going to hinder his GC positions, crossing the line 30 seconds down on Evenpoel and nearly a minute off the leaders. But with the 3km rule applying on stage 11, he was saved and given the same time as the Belgian to stay 2:15 from yellow.

The finale played out in front with Vingegaard holding off Pogačar who couldn’t unleash his full sprint behind him, forced to sit back in the saddle amid his final push. The Dane would only gain one second when the bonus seconds were totted up but it was a huge moment in the pair’s rivalry.

The 12th stage of the 2024 Tour is a 203.6 kilometres long test between Aurillac and Villeneuve-sur-Lot. The route features 2,200 metres of climbing, mostly in the first half of the race.

The riders clip into their pedals in Aurillac. The small town on the River Jordanne was included fourteen times in the Tour de France. The last visit dates from 2011, when the 10th stage went from Aurillac to Jussac, where André Greipel took the spoils.

Sprinters are expected to suffer in the first 135 kilometres this time out, as there are several climbs to conquer. The Côte de Saint-Mamet-la-Salve is crested as early as kilometre 11 after an uphill of 3.6 kilometres at 3.9%. Following an undulating section and a 10 kilometres downhill the riders move through Saint-Céré, only to go up again. The Côte d’Autoire is 2.7 kilometres long and averaging 5.9%.

The Côte de Rocamadour (2 kilometres at 5.8%) and Côte de Couzou (1.7 kilometres at 6.3%, not classified) – both featured in the opposite direction in the ITT on the penultimate day of the 2022 Tour – are the last two climbs inside the first 90 kilometres. The route then continues as a false flat to Saint-Projet.

After the intermediate sprint in Gourdon, the riders head for the last KOM climb of the day: the Côte de Montcléra, which is 2 kilometres at 4.6%, with the summit almost 70 kilometres from the finish. The route remains undulating thereafter, but the toughest uphill sections are over.

An uphill section of 2 kilometres at 3% inside the last 10 kilometres could make or break a late attack (possibly from the breakaway) before a false flat downhill leads onto the final 5 kilometres of flat terrain.

Erik Dekker is the most recent Tour de France stage winner in Villeneuve-sur-Lot. In 2000, the Dutchman arrived solo to win the first of his four stages in Le Tour.

The first three riders across the line gain time bonuses of 10, 6, and 4 seconds.

Stage 11 result:

General Classification:

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