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by Neal Rogers
July 13, 2017
In today’s Daily News Digest: Another sprint, another victory for Kittel, who takes fifth stage of Tour de France; Brennauer off to winning start in Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour; Tough day at Tour for Astana: Feed zone crash takes out Cataldo as Fuglsang fractures wrist, elbow; Oh-so-close for Bodnar on Stage 11 of Tour de France; Groenewegen keeps improving, finishes second behind Kittel in Pau; Contador struggling to reconcile recurring bad luck at Tour de France; Stranger Tour? Sagan promotes Netflix as he readies to ‘race in the upside down’; Video: GoPro’s Tour de France Stage 11 highlights; Video: Backstage Pass with Orica-Scott at Stage 10 of the Tour de France; Video: What’s it like to be a mechanic at the Tour de France?
German sprinter Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) took his fifth stage win of the 2017 Tour de France on Stage 11 in Pau. Dutch sprinter Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto NL-Jumbo) was second after a late push, with Dimension Data’s Edvald Boasson Hagen in third. Breakaway remnant Macej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) wasn’t reeled in until the final 400 meters after embarking on a bold solo move 25 kilometers out from the finish.
Kittel gave high praise to his unwavering team upon sprinting to the line again in first. “It’s incredible, sometimes when you are on your top level in sprint, it’s like playing Tetris, and in the last few games, I always got the right gaps, I never made a mistake,” he said. “I could jump from wheel to wheel. It’s incredible. I’m so happy. It’s so nice to give the team another victory. Today, Julien [Vermote] worked, [Philippe] Gilbert worked, Jack Bauer worked. They are all champions, and they’re all killing it here for me.”
Numerous GC contenders met the pavement. Dane Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), fifth on GC at 1:37 down, and French GC hope Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), third on GC at 51 seconds back, both went down in separate slow-speed incidents, as did Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), 12th on GC at 5:15.
“It was very nervous.” Bardet said post-stage. “I was twice caught in crashes. I’m happy to get away unhurt and to see the flat stages away. It’s never pleasant to crash twice. These are days when you need to be patient and wait for better days.”
Despite the headwind, the men of the breakaway again made an attempt at stage glory. Like Stages 3 and 6, Frederik Backaert of Wanty-Groupe Gobert was involved once again. Joining him was Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates) and Macej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), and their gap rose immediately, edging close to five minutes before Quick-Step Floors’ unwavering diesel Julien Vermote once again took the front of the peloton to monitor the gap. Bodnar went clear of his companions with 27km remaining, and was finally caught with just over 300 meters remaining. As the sprint was launched and gaps began opening, Kittel turned on the afterburners, moved around the outside of the scrum with Groenewegen in tow, and overcame everyone for the win.
Click through to read the full race report.