French rider Tony Gallopin breaks away to win 11th stage of Tour de France
French rider Tony Gallopin led a late breakaway in a show of opportunism and savvy racing to win the 11th stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday as Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall lead.
The peloton returned to action after the race’s first rest day with the 187.5-km ride from Besancon to Oyonnax, not far from the Swiss border. The stage featured four small- to medium-sized hills near the end.
Gallopin, who wore the yellow jersey for a day before Nibali recaptured it, first tried to break away with about 13 and-a-half kilometres left but got reeled in. Then, in a late flurry, with less than three kilometres to go, the Lotto-Belisol rider tried again. This time, it worked.
He chiselled out a lead of several seconds and, desperately pedalling, held off a surging pack in the final several hundred metres.
Gallopin won by several bike lengths, just enough for him to have time to lift his arms in celebration, panting.
“Incredible,” said Gallopin of his Tour stage win. “I came to train for the Tour de France here ... that really served me today.
“It’s really a victory that feels good.”
The top standings didn’t change, because Nibali finished in the pack with the same time as Gallopin.
Meanwhile, American Andrew Talansky, in pain after two crashes twice in recent days, dropped back from the peloton more than halfway through the stage. At one point, he stopped and sat down on a roadside guard rail.
But in a show of heart, with encouragement from team sports director Robert Hunter, Talansky got back on his bike, wiped his eyes and continued. He made it under the time limit to continue the race.