Nibali unable to shake Wiggins, but defending champ Evans distanced; big question is did Froome attack his team leader?

Pierre Rolland made it two stage wins in a row for Europcar to take stage 11,  after atacking and dropping the final survivors of the day's break on the last climb to the summit finish at La Toussuire. Thibaut Pinot of FDJ-BigMat, the youngest rider in the race, finished second around a minute later, ahead of Team Sky's Chris Froome. Rolland has now taken the big Alpine stages in successive editions fo the Tour, last year he was winner of the Alpe d'Huez stage.

It was a dramatic day in the battle for the overall victory, with Vincenzo Nibali twice attacking and briefly distancing maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins, but the pair crossed the line together. The big loser, however, was defending champion Cadel Evans of BMC Racing, second this morning, who lost a minute and a half to his rivals. One of the day's big talking points, though will be an apparent attack by Froome on team mate WIggins, who was briefly distanced before his colleague seemed to be ordered to slow down.

Froome moves up to second on GC, 2 minutes 5 seconds behind Wiggins, a reversal of the podium positions the pair occupied in last September’s Vuelta when they finished second and third behind Juan Jose Cobo of Movistar, who has been all but anonymous in this race.

During the Vuelta, Team Sky’s decision to have Froome work for Wiggins while the Kenyan-born rider was in the race leader’s red jersey had provoked no small amount of debate, with many insisting that since he looked stronger – and he would go on to win a mountain stage – he should have been the rider that the British outfit sought to support for the overall win.

That debate, simmering during this year’s Tour and especially since Froome’s victory on La Planche des Belles Filles on Saturday, a stage that saw Wiggins move into the maillot jaune, will have exploded this evening as Froome appeared to attack his team leader just after the pair had reeled in a second attack from Liquigas Cannondale rider Nibali on the day’s final climb.

Froome’s move came the moment he and Wiggins joined Nibali, whose attack had seen him bridge across to Pinot, Astana’s Janez Brajkovic and Jurgen Van Den Broeck of Lotto-Belisol, the Team Sky rider putting in a lightning quick burst of acceleration that had Wiggins, of all people, in trouble.

The maillot jaune was briefly dropped, and Froome, presumably getting orders either from his team leader or from sports director Sean Yates, immediately cut his speed and the small group reformed.

What’s not clear for now is whether Froome’s move was a deliberate attack against his team mate, or due to some kind of misunderstanding – certainly, both the Team Sky riders seemed to be engaged in discussion via their radios shortly before catching Nibali.

The Sicilian, who had made an earlier attack on the final climb that was swiftly reeled in, may not have shaken off Wiggins and Froome, but he does leapfrog Evans into a podium position, with the defending champion clearly in trouble despite the help of his team mate Tejay Van Garderen.

Evans had himself attacked earlier in the 148-km stage from Albertville during the ascent of the Col de la Croix de Fer, joining Van Garderen who had shot off up the road shortly beforehand, and even at that point it looked like the 2011 Tour winner, ashen faced and struggling to match his younger team mate, might be in trouble today.

That attack was eventually brought back by Team Sky, with Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Rogers and Richie Porte again all putting in big efforts to try and help control the race.

Van Garderen keeps the best young rider’s white jersey, with Pinot, winner of Stage 8 at Porrentruy on Sunday, moving up to second in that classification.

Up ahead of the GC group, four riders, the remains of a big group that got away early on, hit the foot of that final climb to La Toussuire together, the quartet being Peter Velits of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Laurens Ten Dam of Rabobank, Robert Kiserlovski of Astana, and the eventual stage winner, Rolland.

Immediately they hit the foot of that ascent, 18 kilometres long with an average gradient of 6.1 per cent, Rolland and Kiserloviski went on the attack, quickly distancing their two fellow riders, but Ten Dam and Velits managed to rejoin them.

Again, 11 kilometres out, Rolland went once more, Kiserlovski following his move but the Frenchman was soon out in front on his own, pushing himself to his limits as he rode away to claim his second big Tour de France mountain stage inside 12 months.

Stage winner, Europcar’s Pierre Rolland:

“It was a great day. We expected a big show, and we got. I was not sure if I would try to go clear [of the escapees] on climb of the Madeleine or wait a little later. We spoke with Christophe Kern, and he helped me to get me back to the lead group, then reached the front in the ascent of the Croix de Fer and Mollard climbs. I told him he was going too fast, but he kept saying, ‘Shut up and trust me, you'll have them!'

“This stage, it's been in my dreams for six months. This is the queen stage for me, because it is the most difficult, because it's in the Alps. And the Alps, is my home. This victory is very different from last year; as soon as I found myself in the break, I had to take my responsibilities as the others [in the break] looked at me. Last year, I could play on the element of surprise, and also work with nerves of [Samuel] Sanchez and [Alberto] Contador. Both stages [today and at Alpe d'Huez in 2011] are similar on paper, how to win them was entirely different and so my two wins at the Tour have a different flavour.

“Since the presentation of the Tour, the team knew that the route was not ideal for me when it came to the overall standings. But we still we decided to pursue this goal… To reach the podium, requires total commitment and consistancy over three whole weeks, which is very different to come to a race to win stages by having some less intense days. This is something I want to work on improving over the coming years.”

Maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky:

"I think Nibali is getting stronger all the time, it certainly appears that way. I was pretty surprised Cadel went on the Glandon - there was a hell of a long way to go and we were riding a pretty high tempo and still had quite a few guys there.

"But it's been a fantastic day again for us; it's another one ticked off and we've actually taken more time off Cadel which we never expected this morning."

[Referring to Froome jumping ahead] “I was just really concentrating on my effort and keeping it constant. I'd been riding for 1.5km, 2km before that. I just wanted to clear the lactate and didn't want to make any more of an acceleration.

"There was a lot of noise and a lot of things going on the radio and a bit of confusion at that point as to what we were doing. I think he [Froome] showed today he had the legs, certainly. It was another great day for the team.

"He wanted to try to get a bit of time on him [Evans] today. It was certainly the plan this morning, as long as I stayed with Vincenzo and those guys and Chris didn't drag those guys away."

Team Sky Sports Director, Sean Yates:

“I’ve been part of many big teams and some big rides but today was right up there with some of the best performances I’ve witnessed during my years being involved with cycling.

“Everything was kept in check which was the goal at the start of the day. Everyone wanted to have a dig and attack which was to be expected. We managed the situation and the opponents and ultimately took some time out of Cadel.

“Froomey took a couple of seconds in the final and moved up to second on the day. There was some real commitment by the boys today and I’m really proud of the whole team. I can’t praise them enough.”

Tejay van Garderen, BMC Racing, leading young rider:

"Cadel is mentally tough so he's not going to let this day get him down. He's going to keep fighting. If Sky continues on a decline with their strength in numbers and Cadel shakes off today and has a better day in the coming days, we can get the time back."

"That was really hard. It was a tough day. I hoped Cadel's legs would be better, especially since Sky was put under so much pressure throughout the day. This was the first time we saw Wiggins isolated. If we can do that again on the next mountain stage and Cadel's legs come around, anything is possible. There's a long way to go.

"It looked like we had Sky under pressure and things looked to be going great, but Cadel had a little trouble holding my wheel. He was having a bit of an off day. Normally he would be the one dropping me."

BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue:

"Cadel is disappointed of course. We have done great until now. We have tried to limit everything and I think the team did great today. But making up more than three minutes is complicated knowing that you have the time trial at the end and there are not so many mountain top finishes – and looking at the team Sky has here. It's always possible. We won't say today it's finished. We'll keep fighting until Paris."


Tour de France Stage 11 result  

1  ROLLAND Pierre        TEAM EUROPCAR                04h 43' 54''
2  PINOT Thibaut         FDJ-BIGMAT                     + 00' 55''
3  FROOME Christopher    SKY PROCYCLING                 + 00' 55''
4  VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM             + 00' 57''
5  NIBALI Vincenzo       LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE            + 00' 57''
6  WIGGINS Bradley       SKY PROCYCLING                 + 00' 57''
7  SORENSEN Chris Anker  TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK    + 01' 08''
8  BRAJKOVIC Janez       ASTANA PRO TEAM                + 01' 58''
9  KIRYIENKA Vasili      MOVISTAR TEAM                  + 02' 13''
10 SCHLECK Frank         RADIOSHACK-NISSAN              + 02' 23''
11 EVANS Cadel           BMC RACING TEAM                + 02' 23''
12 VAN GARDEREN Tejay    BMC RACING TEAM                + 02' 23''
13 HORNER Christopher    RADIOSHACK-NISSAN              + 03' 53''
14 KLÖDEN Andréas        RADIOSHACK-NISSAN              + 03' 53''
15 COPPEL Jérôme         SAUR-SOJASUN                   + 03' 53''
16 ZUBELDIA Haimar       RADIOSHACK-NISSAN              + 03' 53''
17 COBO Juan Jose        MOVISTAR TEAM                  + 03' 53''
18 KISERLOVSKI Robert    ASTANA PRO TEAM                + 03' 53''
19 ROCHE Nicolas         AG2R LA MONDIALE               + 06' 17''
20 TEN DAM Laurens       RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM          + 07' 27'

Last man home on Stage 11  

167 VAN HUMMEL Kenny     VACANSOLEIL-DCM                + 36' 35''

General Classification after Stage 11  

1  WIGGINS Bradley       SKY PROCYCLING               48h 43' 53''
2  FROOME Christopher    SKY PROCYCLING                 + 02' 05''
3  NIBALI Vincenzo       LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE            + 02' 23''
4  EVANS Cadel           BMC RACING TEAM                + 03' 19''
5  VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM             + 04' 48''
6  ZUBELDIA Haimar       RADIOSHACK-NISSAN              + 06' 15''
7  VAN GARDEREN Tejay    BMC RACING TEAM                + 06' 57''
8  BRAJKOVIC Janez       ASTANA PRO TEAM                + 07' 30''
9  ROLLAND Pierre        TEAM EUROPCAR                  + 08' 31''
10 PINOT Thibaut         FDJ-BIGMAT                     + 08' 51''

Points Classification after Stage 11  

1 SAGAN Peter            LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE            232 pts
2 GOSS Matthew Harley    ORICA GREENEDGE                205 pts
3 GREIPEL André          LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM             172 pts
4 CAVENDISH Mark         SKY PROCYCLING                 129 pts
5 PETACCHI Alessandro    LAMPRE - ISD                   109 pts

Mountains Classification after Stage 11  

1 KESSIAKOFF Fredrik     ASTANA PRO TEAM                 66 pts
2 ROLLAND Pierre         TEAM EUROPCAR                   55 pts
4 SCARPONI Michele       LAMPRE - ISD                    33 pts
5 FROOME Christopher     SKY PROCYCLING                  32 pts

Best Young Rider's Classification after Stage 11  

1 VAN GARDEREN Tejay     BMC RACING TEAM               48h 50' 50''
2 PINOT Thibaut          FDJ-BIGMAT                      + 01' 54''
3 TAARAMAE Rein          COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE      + 23' 50''
4 VALLS Rafael           VACANSOLEIL-DCM                 + 30' 51''
5 KRUIJSWIJK Steven      RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM           + 38' 23''

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.


arrieredupeleton [585 posts] 5 years ago

Could it be the case that Froome was trying to draw Nibali into counter-attacking him? He'd already used up energy on two attacks prior to that and it might have been Sky's plan to soften him up a little more before the final 3-4km. I've never rated Nibali as a true grimpeur but he showed what he's made of today.

Whilst Wiggins isn't one either, tactically he's got the measure of his rivals I feel. Van Den Broeck is the man to watch though in the Pyrenees though (and all the mad Basques). However, he'll need a 3 minute lead going into the last TT to stand a chance.

Can't help but feel Alberto Contador would have ripped the legs off the thing this year. However, it's not Brad's fault he's not there.

Simon_MacMichael [2507 posts] 5 years ago

It's a possibility. I suppose we might get a hint (if not the full truth) from the post race press conference. Wiggins and Froome were certainly hot in conversation not long beforehand, but the speed of Froome's attack - and his stopping afterwards - suggest either it was him going it alone, or that Brad was supposed to go with him but for whatever reason, couldn't. Cracking stage.

Cooks [496 posts] 5 years ago
arrieredupeleton wrote:

Can't help but feel Alberto Contador would have ripped the legs off the thing this year.

True dat

antonio [1168 posts] 5 years ago

Theories abound, but at the end of the day is the plain fact, Brits one and two.

Some Fella [890 posts] 5 years ago

Why are people keen to stir up some sort 'internal conflict' bulls**t? He and Wiggins bridged Nibali and at that point Froome saw an opportunity to put some distance between them. Bradley didnt want to use any more energy than was necessary and didnt follow. Froome's 'attack' probably would have come to nothing and Bradley and obviously the team car knew this too and brought him back. Froome was being opportunist - Wiggins pragmatic - no harm done. I wish we would all stop trying trying create a perceived tension that isnt there. Classic British disease.
And dont even get me started on the supposed 'feud' between Froome's and Wiggins' womenfolk.

londonplayer [621 posts] 5 years ago

Get rid of the team cars advising the riders as they ride. This isn't Formula 1. I like Cervelo's suggestions for reforming the Tour. I want to see bikes, not cars. It will stir it all up a bit.

Chiswick [45 posts] 5 years ago

Is Cobo really there? Too right then that he's all but anonymous. Froome and Van Garderen both straining at the leash. Seems a perfectly understandable tension between duty and aspiration to me.

Philx [37 posts] 5 years ago
Some Fella wrote:

Why are people keen to stir up some sort 'internal conflict' bulls**t?


WolfieSmith [1395 posts] 5 years ago
Cooks wrote:
arrieredupeleton wrote:

Can't help but feel Alberto Contador would have ripped the legs off the thing this year.

True dat

If Eddie Merckx was 31 then he'd be beating both these sad British challengers for the crown. Hinault would've won his 5th tour without LeMond's help...Blahdeblah...

We have a British 1,2 in the greatest race in the world because of exhaustive preparation and hard work and the press and half of planet web seems intent on looking on the dark side and suggesting someone serving a ban for doping would have livened the boring event up a bit and given it some validity.

Not sure what else Wiggins needs to do. If I was him I'd stop giving the naysayers airtime, win the TDF to add to my 3 Olympic golds and retire. Next year everyone can start over: saying that Froome is no match for Spanish riders and Richie Porte is chomping at the bit and being held back...  4

StickyBottle [4 posts] 5 years ago
Philx wrote:
Some Fella wrote:

Why are people keen to stir up some sort 'internal conflict' bulls**t?


Maybe because its actually a bit dull to have a team entirely controlling the race so there's not a lot else to speculate on. Not Sky's fault of course but it doesn't make for a truly great race.

trek7000 [48 posts] 5 years ago

Just what the Us Postal / Discovery team use to do. Dominate and chase down any one in GC who's going to get close.
What's all the fuss, there's still 9 days hard riding left where anything can happen. It ain't over until Brad's front wheel crosses the line in Paris and he's still in Yellow!
Until then anything else is just "speculation".

Tony Farrelly [2926 posts] 5 years ago

You're going to hate our upcoming story about the apparent 'twitterspat' between Cath Wiggins and Michelle Cound - any news outlet worth its salt is going to write about that because it's news, and it's interesting - these two women have around 9000 followers between them on Twitter so it's hardly secret stuff.

I'm sure their feelings are no different to cycling WAGs down the ages, and any internal tensions in the team are the same too, it's just that these days thanks to social media we get to know about them - in real time without team press officers getting in the way. I think it's a good thing - if it's putting a pro off his stride he shouldn't be in the game.

russyparkin [570 posts] 5 years ago

today was an epic stage! lets not moan froome is scuppering his own race for brad but im sure there is a deal to give it to him next time round.

Rolland is amazing!

what a stage! what a stage!

Simon_MacMichael [2507 posts] 5 years ago
StickyBottle wrote:

Maybe because its actually a bit dull to have a team entirely controlling the race so there's not a lot else to speculate on. Not Sky's fault of course but it doesn't make for a truly great race.

Dull? There was more GC action in the final climb of today's stage than the whole of the Pyrenees last year when everyone pretty much marked each other.

A first half of the race that has dispensed with a lot of the formulaic flat stages we often see and has seen some great young talent come to the fore? Not dull to me.

I saw someone tweet today that this race has shown us the future of cycling - Sagan, Pinot, plus the older Froome, Van Garderen, Rolland, to name just five. That in itself makes for interest I reckon.

Also, three men currently on the podium who haven't been there before in this race - to me, that's a introduces a bit more excitement than seeing Andy finish runner-up to Alberto again.

Yes, Sky have tactics they think will win them the race, and so far it's working, but you can't fault them for playing to their strengths and for the failure of other teams that should be putting up more of a fight to respond.

I think most people saw Wiggins perhaps losing some time in the mountains but making up more in the TTs - instead, he's gained time on the climbs, so that's something that wasn't widely predicted which again I think makes for compelling racing, no-one saw the TTT they effectively rode up the Planche des Belles Filles coming.

And as others have said, there's still a lot of racing to go and plenty can happen.

bauchlebastart [124 posts] 5 years ago

Looked to me that Wiggins couldn't follow and Froome was called back as he was towing Nibali. As in the Vuelta, Froome looks the stronger rider (without his mechanical earlier on in the race he would be seconds behind Wiggins) and is sacrificing his chances to support Wiggins for a second time.

notfastenough [3728 posts] 5 years ago

@Russyparkin +1, and another 1

It would be great to see CF lead the team at the Vuelta or Giro.

Brad said that over the radio Sean said "slow", but with the noise Chris thought he said "go".

timbola [248 posts] 5 years ago

Not really interested in any speculation of so-called splits ... yesterday was a cracking race with plenty of drama and riders trying to steal a march on the others. Britons 1 and 2 is incredible, as was Rolland's win. There are some exciting riders coming up - Froomedog, Rolland, Pinot, TJVG and Sagan, to name but a few. Really exciting stuff this year and hardly too predictable. And remember, watching the tour is not just about the GC for cycling fans - Le Tour has dramas within drama, played out in glorious scenery, too !
Allez Wiggo, Froomey, the rest of Sky - gotta show some bias, now  1

arrieredupeleton [585 posts] 5 years ago

As I said in my first post, it isn't Sky or Brad's fault Contador (or indeed Andy Schleck) isn't there. I make the point only because I think Contador is the only individual capable of breaking up the Sky dominance of the climbs and who can also TT.

My believe is the reason he isn't there is because he has cheated in the past and was caught out on a technicality. So I'm certainly not complaining. As for Andy Schleck, I think he would have struggled to get close to Brad as his brother Frank is a better TTer and was 4.32 slower in the first TT.

The fact Contador isn't there probably makes for a better race - yesterday was compelling...

I'm looking forward to the Pyrenees and for Euskatel to show up. Get Egoi Martinez in your team.

TheHatter [770 posts] 5 years ago
Simon_MacMichael wrote:
StickyBottle wrote:

Maybe because its actually a bit dull to have a team entirely controlling the race so there's not a lot else to speculate on. Not Sky's fault of course but it doesn't make for a truly great race.

Dull? There was more GC action in the final climb of today's stage than the whole of the Pyrenees last year when everyone pretty much marked each other.

There is a dull element in that, barring a crash, we've known since the first TT nearly 2 weeks from the end who will win outright.
Its similar to the old Indurain days and he was often described as unexciting.
Also last years race wasn't a classic from the GC viewpoint so its not a great comparison.