A stage after losing the Yellow Jersey, France's Tony Gallopin responded by winning Stage 11 on Wednesday of the Tour de France.
In a stage that featured a few hilly climbs before a flat finish, it was a day ripe for attacks. Multiple times the breakaway groups were reeled in before another breakaway would form. On the final climb of the day, not officially recognized as a climb, Gallpin moved out front with a couple of other riders including points leader Peter Sagan who was looking for the win with his team driving hard for the victory on the day.
But with the competition hesitating just a moment, Gallopin accelerated and the trio in the breakaway couldn't catch him and with just a kilometer to go, Gallopin opened up a gap of a few hundred meters and in the frenzied finish he was able to hold off the pursuers and cross the line for his first career stage win.
It wasn't a breakaway win in the traditional sense but it was a great break nonetheless from Gallopin on the exact type of stage he loves. Previously he took the Yellow on a stage similar to Wednesday; one with categorized climbs but not mountains.
Perhaps the stage was a little more of a challenge than was anticipated but it still didn't present much of a challenge for Yellow Jersey leader Vincenzo Nibali or the rest of the contenders. Nibali remained alert and near the front of the peloton, holding his position. Gallopin is fifth in the overall standings but he never got out of sight of the peloton, leaving Nibali little to worry about.
The rough ride of the day belonged to American Andrew Talansky. The Miami native finished in the top 10 last year as a Tour rookie and was a favorite coming in to perhaps even make the podium this Tour as he was in excellent form. But crashes in this Tour have really started to take a toll and even after the rest day (or perhaps exacerbated by the rest day) he was in a world of hurt.
Talansky lost touch with the peloton and then began leaking time with every kilometer on the road. He pulled off the side of the road and had a talk with his team car before getting back on the bike to continue; the question was if he would make it under the time limit to remain in the Tour.
Pushing along alone, Talansky had to finish less than 37 minutes behind the leaders and he did just that, finishing 32 minutes behind Gallopin to stay alive in the Tour. His hopes of a top 10 are obviously crushed but it was an impressive ride with fans waiting a half hour to cheer him home. It's a terrible day for him but it was inspiring nonetheless and the type of ride he'll learn from and win over a lot of fans as he never quit when he easily could have.
Photo(s) of the day
RT si tu penses que ce paysage est magnifique / RT if you think this landscape is awesome pic.twitter.com/N3nfrTUxCN— Le Tour de France (@letour) July 16, 2014
Finally, the sun returned to the Tour de France, allowing for the tremendous scenary we're used to at the Tour de France to really shine through. It's undoubtedly one of the best aspects of watching the Tour.
Technically a flat stage (we might need to have a talk with the French about what "flat" means), Thursday will be the last bit of break before the real climbs start again on Friday and over the weekend with the mountains.
Stage 12 begins in Bourg-en-Bresse and makes a 185.5 kilometer trek to Saint-Etiennne with a stage that isn't incredibly taxing but does feature four climbs worth points (two category 4 climbs, two category 3 climbs). The finish, though, features a flat final eight kilometers following a descent. It will be interesting to see if it's a stage where a breakaway can succeed.