|After a breakaway won on stage ten of the 99th edition of the Tour de France, another breakaway, which originally featured over 20 riders, eventually claimed victory. Pierre Rolland (Europcar), who won Alpe d'Huez and the best young riders' jersey in 2011, soloed to the stage 11 victory. With Rolland winning stage 11, it brings back-to-back stage wins for both team Europcar and French cycling. However stage 11 was not only about Rolland winning the stage, but mainly the general classification contenders who will look to win the Tour de France in two weeks' time in Paris.
The stage 11 breakaway got away early in the stage and only increased in size throughout the day. Some of the top contenders in the Tour de France this year including: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) and others rode into the early morning breakaway to test race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
As the stage progressed, more and more riders attacked the team Sky led peloton in an effort to go and join the breakaway, however, as the breakaway began the two uncategorized climbs of the 148 kilometer stage, the breakaway began to split apart, causing a smaller lead group and riders spread out across the road between the peloton and lead group.
As the race moved into the final fifty kilometers, the peloton continued to be led by British-based team Sky Pro Cycling, who were setting tempo to keep Bradley Wiggins in overall race lead. In the lead group on the road, Pierre Rolland, Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Vasili Kiryienka (Movistar) and Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) continued to work together in an effort to stage ahead of the peloton. After several attacks against each other, Rolland made his race winning attack that would bring his team, Europcar, back to back wins at the 2012 Tour de France.
As Rolland continued his solo attack towards the finish line, overall contenders for the 99th Tour de France began to attack the peloton as well as Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins in a move to gain time and put the British team under pressure.
Astana's team leader, Janez Brajkovic, was the first high placed general classification contender to attack Wiggins, however he was over 6 minutes down, so no large reaction occurred. Soon thereafter Jurgen Van Den Broeck attacked the peloton, his name brought attention to Team Sky, but that was yet to be the end of the attacks. Italian Vincenzo Nibali, who started the day in the top 5 overall, attacked next with Van den Broeck and extended a maximum gap out to just under 30 seconds.
However, attacks were not the only challenge for Wiggins and defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). When Wiggins Team Sky teammate, Chris Froome, who placed 2nd at the Vuelta a Espana in 2011, took control of the remaining peloton, Evans could not longer keep contact with the group. His American teammate Tejay van Garderen, who wears the white jersey currently in his 2nd Tour, dropped back to help the Australian defending champion, but Evans could barely keep contact with his teammate's back wheel.
With under 20 kilometers left to go, Froome continued to set pace on the front of the peloton and made an acceleration on the peloton in what looked to be an effort to extend the time gaps between Evans and Wiggins on the road, however, the attack back fired and Wiggins cracked. Froome kept setting the high tempo at the front of the G.C group and it appeared to many that Froome may possibly become the Team Sky leader for the yellow jersey, but quickly Chris Froome was called back to Wiggins to pace him to the finish line.
At the finish line, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Big Mat) sprinted to second on the mountainous stage with Chris Froome placing third. Bradley Wiggins finished in the group with Froome as well as Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) to remain overall leader while Cadel Evans came in over 2 minutes behind stage winner Pierre Rolland and lost time to Wiggins and Nibali.
Stage 11 Results
1. ROLLAND P. EUC 04h 43' 54''
2. PINOT T. FDJ +00' 55''
3. FROOME C. SKY +00' 55''
4. VAN DEN BROECK J. LTB +00' 57''
5. NIBALI V. LIQ +00' 57''
6. WIGGINS B. SKY +00' 57''
7. SORENSEN C. STB +01' 08''
8. BRAJKOVIC J. AST 01' 58''
9. KIRYIENKA V. MOV +02' 13''
10. SCHLECK F. RNT +02' 23''
General Classification After Stage 11
1. WIGGINS B. SKY 48h 43' 53''
2. FROOME C. SKY +02' 05''
3. NIBALI V. LIQ +02' 23''
4. EVANS C. BMC +03' 19''
5. VAN DEN BROECK J. LTB +04' 48''
6. ZUBELDIA H. RNT +06' 15''
7. VAN GARDEREN T. BMC +06' 57''
8. BRAJKOVIC J. AST +07' 30''
9. ROLLAND P. EUC +08' 31''
10. PINOT T. FDJ +08' 51''
Points Classification After Stage 11
1. SAGAN P. LIQ 232 pts
2. GOSS M. OGE 205 pts
3. GREIPEL A. LTB 172 pts
Mountains Classification After Stage 11
1. KESSIAKOFF F. AST 66 pts
2. ROLLAND P. EUC 55 pts
3. SORENSEN C. STB 39 pts
Best Young Rider Classification After Stage 11
1. VAN GARDEREN T. BMC 48h 50' 50''
2. PINOT T. FDJ 01' 54''
3. TAARAMAE R. COF 23' 50'
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