Gallopin Escapes to Stage Win at Tour de France
Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) has won Stage 11 of the Tour de France. The Frenchman, who took the maillot jaune during Stage 9, surged into the lead on the descent from the day’s final climb to take the hilly, 187.5-km ride from Besancon to Oyonnax in 4:25:45. John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) outsprinted Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) for second. Vincenzo NIbali (Astana) remains the maillot jaune.
After a number of rainy days, blue skies greeted the riders. The peloton started at a fast clip. After an early move that included Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) was snuffed out, Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) sallied off of the front. At 46 km, the escapees led the field by 6:45. Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge began to chase.
With 80 km left, Dauphine Libere winner Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), who suffered a back injury after crashing in Stages 7 and 8, was dropped. Garmin-Sharp had begun pacemaking, which worsened the American’s plight. He was just ahead of the broomwagon for much of the day, and at one point, he dismounted and was about to abandon. Garmin-Sharp directeur sportif Robbie Hunter talked Talansky into pressing on. The Garmin-Sharp man would finish 32 minutes ahead of Gallopin and five minutes before the time limit.
With 50 km left, on the day’s first climb, the Cote de Rogna, Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) attacked. Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) followed the Belgian. Slagter dropped back when Talansky’s situation became critical, but Bakelants and Roche forged ahead. With 37 km to go, Bakelants, Roche, Jesus Herrada (Movistar), and Cyril Gautier (Europcar) bridged up to Elmiger, the last member of the original break.
The quintet never led the field by more than 30 seconds. Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Cannondale led the chase, and the GC contenders’ teams brought their leaders to the front. With a little more than 20 km remaining, on the Category 3 Cote d’Echallon, the day’s last climb, Roche attacked.
The Irishman led the field by 0:28 with 20 km to go. Cannondale and Omega Pharma-Quick Step pressed the pace on the descent and reeled in the Tinkoff-Saxo Bank man.
Gallopin countered. Astana led the pursuit. Sagan attacked, but the maillot jaune group reeled him in. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Sagan, and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) caught the Lotto-Belisol man with 4.5 km to go.
BMC took over at the front. With 2.5 km remaining, Gallopin took another dig. His companions hesitated momentarily. The peloton chased furiously, but the Frenchman held on and had time to throw his hands in the air as the bunch closed in on him.
Gallopin timed his second move perfectly, and he read his companions’ reactions well. "A few hundred meters before the top of that last climb I took off and went down full gas,” the Frenchman said. “The gap was never big. When the three others joined me, I stayed in the wheel the next two kilometers, then I attacked. I knew the others would hesitate. Sagan because he would lose power for the sprint and the two others wouldn't be able to jump away themselves afterwards. I wasn't thinking any more at the end. I wanted to reach the finish as soon as possible. It's a crazy feeling."
In the overall, Nibali leads Richie Porte (Sky) by 2:23 and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 2:47. Stage 12 will not change this state of affairs. The hilly, 185.5-km ride from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Etienne, which has four categorized climbs, will be another one for stage hunters. Who will win? Sagan? John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano)? Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!