Chris Froome extended his lead of the Tour de France by finishing second to Peter Sagan on stage 11 following a late attack.
With the day seemingly set to end in a bunch sprint, Sagan of Tinkoff accelerated out of a wind-battered peloton alongside team-mate Maciej Bodnar with 12km to go and both Froome and Team Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas were able to pursue the pair. The quartet quickly pulled away and then managed hang on to the finish in Montpellier, where Sagan comfortably defeated Froome in a sprint for the line.
Stage 11 covered 162.5km of mainly flat terrain but high winds created a constant threat of splits in the peloton and the day consequently turned out to be one of the toughest of the race so far.The bunch broke apart multiple times as Team Sky and Tinkoff repeatedly accelerated in the crosswinds, but the peloton was almost all back together with 15km to go and a sprint finish looked certain.
However, Sagan then attacked and when only Bodnar, Froome and later Thomas followed, a gap quickly opened up to the rest of the peloton and stretched out to a maximum of 26 seconds.Froome looked to be heading for substantial time gains when Etixx – Quick-Step and Katusha both failed to cut the lead, but then Giant-Alpecin and Lotto Soudal took over and reduced deficit substantially by the finish.
The stage was nonetheless an unexpected success for Froome, although it remains to be seen if he feels the effects of his effort in tomorrow’s summit finish on Mont Ventoux. Race organisers announced after stage 11 that stage 12 would finish 6km from the summit of Mont Ventoux, at Chalet Reynard, due to high winds.
Stage 11 result
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff, 3:26:23
2 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, same time
3 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff, st
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, +6sec
5 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, st
6 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, st
7 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data, st
8 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal, st
9 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling, st
10 Oliver Naesen (Bel) IAM Cycling, st
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 52:34:37
2 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange, +28sec
3 Dan Martin (Irl) Etixx – Quick-Step, +31
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +35
5 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, +56
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, same time
7 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, st
8 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +1:13
9 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, st
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff, +1:28