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On stage 11, “Lady Luck” of the Tour de France turned her back on a certain champion and demonstrated just how cruel she can be to the riders of the Grande Boucle. A brutal 108.5-kilometre stage, which included 48.3 kilometres of climbing, showed no mercy. Riders fought at the front and riders fought valiantly at the back. In the end, it was all the same for them, there are no handouts.
Quote of the day:
“I could see Frosty — he is a good mate, it was a shame, but I had to go for that win.” — Geraint Thomas on passing former Team Sky teammate Mikel Nieve in the final 400 metres of the stage after Nieve had been in the breakaway all day.
Story of the day: Will Cavendish ever win another stage of the Tour?
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) suffered through the up and down day in the Alps on Wednesday. The road tilted upward from the onset and Cavendish was quickly at the back — all alone. He turned his body inside and out up the climbs to merely make the time cut, but it was not to be. The Grande Boucle sent him packing.
It was a hard sight to see when a video emerged of Cavendish alone at the bottom of the final day’s climb with no way of making the time cut. Like him or hate him, Cavendish is a champion. He’s a 30-time Tour stage winner and former world champion. However, the heyday of the HTC-Colombia years when he won with ease and racked up the stage wins seemed decades ago on this day.
— ProCyclingStats.com (@ProCyclingStats) July 18, 2018
Cavendish has had a tough 2018 season with multiple crashes and an early season concussion. Although every time he is written off, Cavendish seems to bounce back with a vengeance. Remember the 2016 Tour when he turned back the clock and captured four stage wins? That year brought the Manx into the conversation of Eddy Merckx’s 34 stage-win record and if he could beat it.
Now that Cavendish has left the 2018 Tour — the first time he has been time cut — is it safe to say he may not win another Tour stage? He’ll be 34 when the race rolls around next year, past his prime for a sprinter.
Let us know in the comments if you think Cavendish will take another Tour stage victory before the day finally comes when he hangs up his wheels.
Heartbreak for Nieve
It was a heartbreaking ending to stage 11 for Mikel Nieve, as he was passed in the final few hundred metres of the stage by a former teammate and then the race jury passed on him for the Most Combative prize. Nieve had been in the breakaway all day.
Nieve was teammates with Thomas on Team Sky last year and judging by the way Thomas referred to Nieve as “Frosty,” a nickname, it seems the two had a good relationship as well. But, the Tour is a race. With a stage win and yellow jersey at stake, Thomas was in no mood for gifting Nieve anything.
Cycling is a cruel sport sometimes. A rider can push themselves to the absolute brink, only to be left with nothing.
Dispatches from the Tour de France
Thomas grabs yellow jersey with solo win on stage 11 of Tour de France
Geraint Thomas (Sky) overhauled longtime stage leader Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) to take the stage victory and capture the maillot jaune on stage 11 of the Tour in La Rosière Espace San Bernardo.
“I knew there was a good chance, obviously,” Thomas said of taking yellow. “But I didn’t know how anyone else was going to ride. To wear the yellow jersey is a massive honour. I managed to do it last year and to do it two years on the trot is really nice.”
Chris Froome (Sky) jumped clear of Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) and bridged to Tom Dumoulin and Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing Team) in the final kilometre after riding defensively with Thomas up the road. Froome tried to get clear for second, but Dumoulin led him across the line, 20 seconds back, with Caruso a further two seconds down.
Click through to read our full stage 11 Tour report on Thomas’ victory.
Tomorrow’s Tour stage
Start: Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs
Finish: Alpe d’Huez
The final day in the Alps is a brutal one. L’Alpe d’Huez and its famed 21 switchbacks return after a two-year absence to finish off an intense day in the mountains. The climb is preceded by the Col de la Madeleine, Lacets de Montvernier and Col de la Croix de Fer. With many of the favourites turning their goals from the general classification to stage wins after the leg-sapping stage 11, expect many attacks throughout the stage.
POV of mountain biker jumping over breakaway
French mountain biker Alexis Bosson jumped over the breakaway on the Montée du Plateau des Glières during Stage 10. Here’s the footage from the helmet camera he was wearing.
Tour de France stage 10 highlights