Tour de France overall leader Tadej Pogacar showed a first sign of weakness in the ascent of the awe-inspiring Mont Ventoux on Wednesday and even though he still extended his advantage, the Slovenian has not yet wrapped up the title.
You can rewatch STAGE 11 of 2021 Tour de France HERE
Wout van Aert claimed a solo win in the 11th stage, a 198.9km trek from Sorgues, while defending champion Pogacar was distanced two kilometres from the top of the second ascent of the moonscaped Ventoux by Jonas Vingegaard.
Vingegaard opened up a 40-second gap before eventually being caught by Pogacar, Rigoberto Uran and Richard Carapaz in the long descent to the finish.
Overall, Uran moved up to second, a massive 5:18 behind Pogacar with Vingegaard in third, a further 14 seconds back after Ben O’Connor, who had started the day in second position, cracked on the Ventoux.
“I’m lost for words. It’s stupid to say but I didn’t expect to win a stage on this Tour de France until yesterday when I felt I could win one. It’s one of the most iconic climbs on the Tour, maybe it’s my best victory ever,” said Van Aert. “It’s the first mountain I climbed, when I was 10.”
Vingegaard had the best legs on the feared Ventoux and even though he did not gain time on Pogacar, the Dane showed he could hurt the Slovenian in the Pyrenees.
“In the second ascent of the Ventoux the tempo was not too high but it was not easy and I exploded in the end,” Pogacar said.
Carapaz’s Ineos Grenadiers pulled the peloton to control the chase potentially setting up the 2019 Giro d’Italia champion for an attack, but it never came as he looked content to stay with Pogacar.
Geraint Thomas sat up before the top as his domestique work was done, way before the peloton reached the Tom Simpson stele, where the British rider died on the 1967 Tour de France.
Alaphilippe led the breakaway group in the first descent to Malaucene, which saw Vincenzo Nibali hit a whopping 107.8 kph, before the second climb to the Ventoux from the most demanding side from Bedoin (21.4km at 7.6%).
Kenny Elissonde attacked on the steepest part of the climb, 15km from the top, leaving Alaphilippe, Van Aert and Bauke Mollema chasing.
Van Aert quickly caught Elissonde and dropped the Frenchman 11km from the top, where second-placed Connor cracked as he slid down to fifth in the overall standings behind Carapaz.