Mark Cavendish of HTC-Highroad got his revenge on yesterday's winner, Andre Greipel of Omega Pharma Lotto, to convincingly win Stage 11 of the Tour de France in Lavaur this afternoon on a rainswept day in the Tarn department. Garmin Cervelo's Tyler Farrar finished third, while Thomas Voeckler of Europcar retains the race leader's yellow jersey. It's Cavendish's 18th career Tour de France win and his third of this year's race, and what's more, today's victory puts him into the green poinst jersey for the first time in the 2011 Tour.
After his victory, Cavendish said: "It's incredible to have the green jersey, it's the most beautiful jersey in the world.
"I have to thank my team-mates for the work they did today, even the guys who are in the top ten overall gave it one hundred percent and that shows what a great team we are."
"There are two more bunch sprints in this year's race, one in Montpellier and the other in Paris and I want to try to win both of them," he continued.
"It's not easy fighting for the green jersey but I'm going to keep going and try to keep hold of it right through to the end," added Cavendish.
A six-man breakaway group had managed to get clear of the peloton 13km into today’s 167.5km stage from Blaye-les-Mines in the Tarn department, raced under black skies and intermittent rain, with a heavy downpour at the finish in Lavaur.
The riders involved in the escape group, Ruben Perez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Rabobank’s Lars Boom, Andriy Grivko from Astana, the FDJ rider Mickael Delage, Tristan Valentin of Cofidis and Jimmy Engoulvent of Saur-Sojasun at one point had a lead of more than four minutes.
However, with the race heading into the Pyrenees tomorrow and today’s stage representing the last-but-one chance for a bunch finish ahead of the final day on the Champs-Elysees, the sprinters’ teams drove hard to close down the gap, with HTC-Highroad as ever putting in a huge amount of work at the front of the peloton.
With the rain teeming down as the escapees rode into a headwind as they approached Lavaur, Boom jumped off the front of the breakaway with 4.5km remaining, but with Lampre-ISD’s Danilo Hondo now putting in a big stint at the head of the bunch, the Dutchman’s efforts were in vain and he was passed with just over 2km to go.
As the road headed up an incline towards the closing kilometre, David Millar, working for his Garmin-Cervelo team mate took up position at the front of the race, with Geraint Thomas of Team Sky then coming through as he looked to lead out Edvald Boasson Hagen.
But it was HTC-Highroad’s Mark Renshaw who burst through to set up Cavendish for the win, and although Greipel got onto his wheel, there was no way he could get past his former team mate, who had also had to deal with having to adjust his shoe just 500 metres short of the line.
HTC-Highroad had earlier led out Cavendish to take the maximum points available to the peloton after the breakaway riders, led by Delage, had ridden through the intermediate sprint point.
The Manxman crossed ahead of Movistar’s Jose Joaquin Rojas, second in that classification this morning, with green jersey Philippe Gilbert a further three places back, his Omega Pharma Lotto team-mate Andre Greipel pipping him to the line.
That cost the Belgian a point – unlikely to be vital in terms of the destination of the points jersey come the end of the race but you never know.
Tomorrow’s Stage 12 should see battle joined in earnest in the GC, with a summit finish at Luz-Ardiden preceded by climbs of the Category 1 Hourquette d’Ancizan and the Hors-Categorie Col du Tourmalet.
Tour de France Stage 11 Result 1 CAVENDISH Mark HTC - HIGHROAD 3h 46' 07" 2 GREIPEL André OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO All at same time 3 FARRAR Tyler GARMIN - CERVELO 4 GALIMZYANOV Denis KATUSHA 5 HAGEN Edvald Boasson SKY PROCYCLING 6 FEILLU Romain VACANSOLEIL-DCM 7 ROJAS Jose Joaquin MOVISTAR 8 TURGOT Sébastien EUROPCAR 9 VENTOSO Francisco MOVISTAR 10 BONNET William FDJ 11 JEANNESSON Arnold FDJ 12 CIOLEK Gerald QUICK STEP 13 DELAPLACE Anthony SAUR-SOJASUN 14 HINAULT Sébastien AG2R LA MONDIALE 15 MEERSMAN Gianni FDJ 16 ROELANDTS Jurgen OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO 17 URTASUN PEREZ Pablo EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 18 RENSHAW Mark HTC - HIGHROAD 19 RUIJGH Rob VACANSOLEIL-DCM 20 VAITKUS Tomas ASTANA Tour de France Overall Standings after Stage 11 1 VOECKLER Thomas EUROPCAR 45h 52' 39" 2 SANCHEZ Luis-Leon RABOBANK + 01' 49" 3 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING + 02' 26" 4 SCHLECK Frank LEOPARD-TREK + 02' 29" 5 SCHLECK Andy LEOPARD-TREK + 02' 37" 6 MARTIN Tony HTC - HIGHROAD + 02' 38" 7 VELITS Peter HTC - HIGHROAD + 02' 38" 8 KLÖDEN Andréas RADIOSHACK + 02' 43" 9 GILBERT Philippe OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 02' 55" 10 FUGLSANG Jakob LEOPARD-TREK + 03' 08"
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.