15/07/15 - 11:05
Pau - Cauterets
Tour de France • Stage11

Pau - Cauterets

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No change in the overall standings - except for that solitary second gained by Valverde, and those 50 seconds conceded by Nibali. Froome still leads Van Garderen by 2:52 and Quintana by 3:09.


We should add that Emanuel Buchmann took third place at 1:23 - he managed to pass by Pauwels and his arrival was not caught on camera. Nice ride from the German youngster at Bora-Argon 18.


Vincenzo Nibali crosses the line with two Astana team-mates another minute back on his rivals.


Alejandro Valverde dances on the pedals and takes one second over the others, who are led over the line by Chris Froome.


Bauke Mollema will be first to finish of the 'favourites' after his break clear. Tony Gallopin has just pinged off the front - but he's being reeled in by Thomas and the others. Here's Mollema - the Dutchman crosses the line 5:10 down.


Thomas Voeckler and Jules Simon come home 3:33 down.


Third place for Serge Pauwels of MTN-Qhubeka, 2:07 down on Majka.


Dan Martin takes second place for Cannondale-Garmin - 59 seconds down on winner Majka. The Irishman battled to join the break on the Col d'Aspin but was dropped by the Pole on the Tourmalet.


Victory for Rafal Majka of Tinkoff-Saxo!


Back with the main favourites and Nibali has been dropped. Another terrible day for the Italian defending champion...


Under the flamme rouge for Majka... the win is his...


Back with the main favourites and Bauke Mollema has pinged off the front as they hit those hairpins...


Martin has not given up and is riding like a man possessed. But he's 1:28 down on the leader and so it's more a case of taking time back than anything else. This will be the Irishman's second second place after he finished behind Alexis Vuillermoz in Mur-de-Bretagne last week.


Majka has completed the climb and taken the points - he's now on the flat 3km drag to the line. The win is in the pocket provided he can stay on his bike.


Majka is onto the Lacets de Cauteret - those switchbacks up towards the finish. Further back, Martin has caught and whizzed by Pauwels. He's been labelled the most combative rider today - but it won't be enough for the win.


There's no worry for Froome, who has both Porte and Thomas shepherding him to the line. This final climb is not steep enough to pose any threat so the battle for GC will go on hold until tomorrow's brutish ascent of Plateau de Beille.


Admirable and strong stuff from Martin - but it's going to be too late for the Irishman, there just aren't enough kilometres left for him to reel in Majka. Or Pauwels, for that matter.


Martin has dropped Buchmann in his pursuit of both Pauwels and Majka. Remember that the climb ends with a series of steep switchbacks, and is then followed by 3km of a false flat towards the finish.


Majka is pulling clear of Pauwels, who may be caught by Martin and Buchmann before the top. Majka is still 6:30 ahead of the pack.


Oleg Tinkov is confident of the win today - and hopes his rider will dedicate the stage to Ivan Basso, who had a successful surgery on his testicular cancer today. Big relief for the Italian veteran.


Believe it or not: The last four riders to cross the summit of the Tourmalet in pole position were French (Christophe Moreau 2010, Jeremy Roy 2010, Thomas Voeckler 2012, Blel Kadri 2014). Only Voeckler went on to win the stage. Majka may change that stat...


Majka passes through the town of Pierrefitte Nestalas and starts the final climb of the Cat.3 Côte de Cauterets (6.4km at 5%).


Majka continues his solo ride towards the foot of the final climb. He has six minutes over the yellow jersey group, so they should not be a factor. Pauwels is 1:07 down and Martin and Buchmann, the German national champion, are at two minutes. One of those four will win - probably Majka.


If Froome has two team-mates then so does Quintana in Valverde and Izaguirre. Valverde clocked 93.5km/h on the last descent - fast stuff.


Sky still have Porte and Thomas with Froome so they very much have this one in control. It will be interesting if they let Thomas go for glory should they reel in the escapees on this final climb.


Pauwels is just 1:10 behind Majka but he will not be able to keep up with the Pole on the final climb. He leads the pack by 5:45.


Chapeau Barguil! The young Frenchman - who dodged cows plus the LottoNL-Jumbo team car on the descent - has managed to rejoin the yellow jersey group.


And here's a video of that near-miss for Barguil...


Moo-ve out the way! A herd of cows crosses the road and almost takes out Warren Barguil on the descent...


So, here's confirmation of the crossing of the Tourmalet. Makja crossed in pole position, Serge Pauwels crossed at 2:00 then Emmanuel Buchmann at 2:05. Dan Martin, paying for his earlier efforts, crossed at 4:05, Voeckler and Jules Simon at 5:20 and Steve Morabito at 5:40. Then Froome led the peloton over ahead of Rolland and Thomas.


We haven't had any news of the chasing riders in pursuit of Majka for a long time - we'll bring you up to date as soon as we know more! For now, the Pole has 5:35 over the main favourites. It's going to come down to the last climb to Cauterets...


Nibali comes to the front of the main pack, with Valverde, Thomas and Rolland lurking.


A staggering amound of fans near the summit as Majka crests the top and takes the Souvenir Jacques Goddet. That will do nicely in his quest to defend the polka dot jersey he won last year...


Rolland, Ten Dam, Talansky and Frank ARE all there in this main group. Rogers is there too.


Mollema is in the tellow jersey group too and Sammy Sanchez. No sight of Uran or Meintjes or Frank now, mind. Barguil is riding on his own in pursuit - he's passed Uran, whose head was sagging, and is about 40 seconds down on the yellow jersey group.


Voeckler has been dropped by the chasing riders. Majka has 5:20 over the pack and so he has stabilised his gap a little.


In the main pack we have: Froome, Thomas, Van Garderen, Quintana, Valverde, Gallopin, Contador, Gesink, Nibali, Uran, Frank, Kangert, Porte and Meintjes.


They're falling like flies: former world champion Rui Costa (Lampre Merida) has withdrawn.


Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) is the latest rider to be tailed off from the main pack, which is about 10-strong now...


Rein Taaramae (Astana) has abandoned. The Estonian has been suffering for quite a few days now - and given leader Nibali's plights, there's really no reason for him to hang around much longer.


Lone leader Majka has reached the ski resort of La Mongie. He has 4:57 on the pack.


It's not actually Jakob Fuglsang with Nibali but Tanel Kangert. The Dane is further back in the main group - and it's still unsure who is leading the team now after manager Vinokourov's knee-jerk reaction yesterday to Gazzetta.


Another withdrawal for Ag2R-La Mondiale: Ben Gastauer joins Johan Vansummeren in the team car.


It's Fuglsang and Nibali setting the tempo on the front of the pack, which has been whittled down to about 30 riders now. Majka's lead is down to 4:30 now thanks to this increase in pace. Sky have lost Leo Konig.


Here's what the riders are tackling right now... plus 33 degree temperatures!


ATTACK: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) has jumped clear of the other escapees - probably because he's heard in his earpiece that the gap has come down to 5:20. Pauwels tries to follow, but Voeckler and Martin have no answer for now.


Astana are now setting the pace on the peloton, which has been blown apart. Last year's runner up, Jean-Christophe Peraud, has been dropped.


Thibaut Pinot's terrible Tour continues: the Frenchman is dropped by the main pack. And to think some of us were thinking he could be a factor on GC in this race... he's well over 20 minutes behind Froome now.


LottoNL-Jumbo have come to the front of the peloton to take over from Sky. Their man Robert Gesink did very well yesterday and moved up to eighth on GC. The gap is down to 6:55 for the leaders, so not a sure fire thing yet.


Arnaud Demare has already been dropped on the climb - no surprise there given his performance on the Col d'Aspin. FDJ still have Morabito though, so it's not all doom and gloom.


The eight leaders are onto the HC Col du Tourmalet (17.1km at 7.3%). Whoever tops this one could well be in the polka dot jersey tonight. But the question is whether or not they will be able to hold on to contest the win in Cauterets...


It's Team Sky's Luke Rowe who controls the tempo on the front alongside British national champion Peter Kennaugh.


Demare has rejoined the leaders after catching up on the descent - so we're up to eight riders now on the front of the race. They have 7:05 on the pack as they pass by the half-way point of this years Tour de France.


History: Synonymous with rest days and doping scandals, Pau hosted its 55th stage start in the Tour and its 66th appearance on the race. Last year, the riders rode from Pau to Hautacam in a stage won by Vincenzo Nibali. This year its a more sedate final climb to nearby Cauterets, which is being used as a finish town for the fourth time - the first being way back in 1953 with a victory for Spain's Jesus Loroño. Miguel Indurain, also from Spain, won in 1989, and Frenchman Richard Virenque triumphed in 1995 on the day of the tragedy that took Fabio Casartelli's life.


Richie Porte leads the peloton over the summit of the Col d'Aspin in his polka dot jersey, 7:48 down on the seven leaders. Virtually the whole pack stops to pick up water and calories from their soigneurs.


Dan Martin may be riding well, but his Cannondale-Garmin team-mate Andrew Talansky has just been dropped by the peloton. The American having another jour-sans...


Johan Vansummeren (Ag2R-La Mondiale) has called it quits. The Belgian crashed heavily in stage 3 and has never really recovered.


Martin leaves the others for dead, jumps on the pedals and takes the points over the top of the Col d'Aspin ahead of Thomas Voeckler. The Irishman clearly has his eyes on the polka dot jersey today - and he's got the better of the 2012 polka dot jersey (Voeckler) and the man who won it last year (Majka).


Romain Bardet has dropped back to the medical car for some ice, which has been stuffed into a pair of ladies' stockings and wrapped around his neck. It's 33 degrees Celsius out there...


Dan Martin has joined the leaders and so we have a seven-man again in the lead, with Demare off the back. The summit is in about 1.5km.


It's still Sky, BMC and LottoNL-Jumbo sharing the load in the pack - they're a full 7:20 down on the leaders, and this break is of a different calibre to yesterday's break so we can very much expect it to stay out to the end.


Martin is riding this climb as if it's the last - the Irishman is only 1:15 behind the six leaders now and he'll catch them before the summit. He and Majka must be the favourites for the win today...


FDJ have lost one of their men from this break: Demare has been dropped by the other leaders - although the gap isn't huge and he may catch up on the descent.


Already quite a few riders are going backwards on the climb as the peloton is whittled down by a combination of heat and the pace-setting of the Sky riders on the front, with their jerseys unzipped. BMC and LottoNL-Jumbo are both present and correct on the front, too.


Nobody likes a passenger: Dan Martin drops Grivko and the Irishman rides on solo in pursuit of the five leaders. It's a big ask, but he knows these roads and is super motivated for the win today.


The five leaders are approaching the foot of the Cat.1 Col d'Aspin (12km at 6.5%). They have 6:10 to play with.


Martin and Grivko have joined forces. They are 3:30 down on the five leaders and two minutes ahead of the pack.


Astana's Andriy Grivko is also chasing the leaders. He could well join Martin soon, which would make things a little easier for the Irishman. Sky, in their yellow helmets as the best team, set the tempo on the front of the pack. The gap is 5:25.


Ireland's Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) has attacked from the peloton. He knows these roads well and clearly wants to join the leaders in a bid to get a stage win after yesterday's disappointment.


Withdrawal of Daniele Bennati of Italy following a crash. Another big blow for Alberto Contador's Alberto Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team - who has already lost another Italian veteran in Ivan Basso. Just six team-mates left for the Spaniard - including that man Majka, who's in the break.


The gap for the seven leaders is up to 3:25 now so they're keen to make it stick. But remember that the leaders yesterday had 14 minutes before being reeled in on the final climb...


Seven leaders now after the chasing duo bridged the gap: Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka), Steve Morabito and Arnaud Démare (FDJ) Julien Simon (Cofidis) and Emmanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18). The leaders covered 40.7km in the second hour of racing, so the pace was down - but understandable given those three successive climbs.


The riders have passed through the feed zone... which leads up to our stage 11 plat du jour: go goose and duck crazy with some foie gras pate followed by a melt-in-the-mouth confit de canard that flakes off the bone in a manner that would make even the most stringent of vegetarians question their beliefs. And the Tour tipple? Produced in the foothills of the Pyrenees around Pau, Jurançon white wine is renowned for its sweetness. When, in 1953, the future king Henri IV was baptised with a drop of Jurançon, the golden wine was hailed as the "wine of the King and the king of wines".


The chasing duo of Démare and Simon are just 15 seconds behind the leaders and so they should certainly join them ahead of the Col d'Aspin - the next climb.


The five leaders - Voeckler, Morabito, Buchmann, Majka and Pauwels - have 2:45 over the peloton.


We have five ahead after the two chasers joined the leading trio. Frenchmen Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and Julien Simon (Cofidis) are in pursuit...


Geraint Thomas rode like a man possessed yesterday en route to finishing sixth. The Welshman said he could have done better but was afraid of giving Tejay Van Garderen a leg up as the American tried to rejoin the likes of Froome and Quintana further up the road on the Col du Soudet. Thomas's performances have not gone unnoticed...


Now we have three riders out ahead: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka). They are being chased down by Steve Morabito (FDJ) and Emmanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18).


And it's Teklehaimanot, the Eritrean former polka dot jersey wearer, who takes the two points atop the Cat.3 Côte de Mauvezin (2.7km at 6%). Behind him is Thomas Voeckler of Europcar - winner of the polka dot jersey in 2012.


Six riders go clear on the climb: Mikaël Chérel (Ag2R), Laurens ten Dam (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka), Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2R), Steve Morabito (FDJ) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka).


Here's a photo of Richie Porte rocking the polka dot jersey this morning...


That leading group of 15 riders has been reeled in on the descent to the foot of the next climb - largely thanks to a hefty chase from Sky, who are clearly giving no gifts out there, even to French riders very much out of the GC battle.


According to Tinkoff-Saxo directeur sportive Sean Yates, yesterday's stage to La Pierre-Saint-Martin "was Alberto's worst day ever in the Tour de France or any grand Tour". That's quite a statement about Contador, who in the end only lost three minutes to Froome. "He's extremely disappointed," said Yates, formerly of Team Sky. "Now we have to accept Sky's domination and get on with it. I'm not surprised by Sky's performance. We know that Richie is strong. We know that G [Geraint Thomas] is strong. He showed it in the Tour of Switzerland. Alliances are fine but it's three or four guys maximum when a strong team defending the jersey is nine guys. So? That's mathematics!"


French duo Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Romain Bardet (Ag2R-La Mondiale) - second and sixth in last year's Tour respectively - are in this group of 15 riders. The gap is currently 10 seconds.


Swiss Steve Morabito (FDJ) takes the solitary point over the top of the climb as a group of around 15 riders cross the summit with a small gap over the peloton.


Sagan's lead in the green jersey race is now seven points over Greipel.


We're onto the next climb now - that Cat.4 Côte de Bagnères-de-Bigorre (1.4km at 6.1%).


Dominik Nerz (Bora-Argon 18) has withdrawn from the race. A blow there for the Pro-Conti wildcard team - the German was 21st on GC, 13:06 down on the summit. More on his abandonment when we get it.


Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) oddly took the points at the intermediate sprint in some quality spoil tactics for team-mate Mark Cavendish. Peter Sagan was second - and with Greipel only managing ninth place, the green jersey will change hands again. Sagan takes it back - and what a duel we're having for green, if not yellow.


Andre Greipel, the green jersey, is also in that second group - and thanks to the pace-setting by his Lotto-Soudal team, the two groups have come back together just 1km from the intermediate sprint...


The pack has split after the climb with former world champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) one of the riders stuck in the second group. The Portuguese has been disappointing in this race so far. Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx) are also in that second group. Yates was impressive yesterday en route to his seventh place. The gap's about 30 seconds.


Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) crosses the summit of the Cat.3 Côte de Loucruq (2km at 7%) in pole position ahead of Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin). They take 2pts and 1pt apiece.


It's no surprise they were caught: the average speed for the first hour of the stage was 48.1km/h.


That's it - the break is over for those four riders, swept up ahead of the climb. They never managed to get more than 40-odd seconds on the pack and so it was always touch and go.


Cannondale-Garmin still driving the peloton as that first Cat.3 climb approaches. A reminder that the white jersey today is Nairo Quintana of Movistar - and this time not by default. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was leading the youth standings yesterday but dropped 20-odd minutes back after the first summit finish. Colombian climber Quintana leads Frenchmen Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) by 3:03 and Romain Bardet (Ag2R) by 10:29.


The four leaders held a gap of 40 seconds as they passed through the town of Lourdes. Three of the ailing Big Four will need a blessing at the cathedral...


The big news this morning is that Astana manager Alexandre Vinokourov has given Jakob Fuglsang permission to take over leadership duties from Vincenzo Nibali after the Italian cracked in yesterday's opening mountain stage - even though the Dane is currently ahead of Fuglsang in the overall standings. "This day was a catastrophe. Nibali couldn’t even keep the pace with Fuglsang, which I had expected him to,” Vino told Gazzetta dello Sport after the stage. "We gave the green light to Jakob to go ahead in the classification. Vincenzo needs a good mechanic because something is broken in his head." The Sicilian is in 14th place on GC at 6:57, while Fuglsang is almost two minutes further back at 8:41.


History repeated itself on the Tour de France on Tuesday with Chris Froome securing his second mountain-top win on Bastille Day in three years. And the Kenyan-born Brit wonders why swathes of French fans and the French media have struggled to take to him... Read yesterday's Tour de Farce blog by clicking the link underneath.


Before today's dual ascents of the Aspin and Tourmalet, the riders have the intermediate sprint plus three lower category climbs to tick off: Côte de Loucruq (cat. 3), 2km at 7%; Côte de Bagnères-de-Bigorre (cat. 4), 1.4km at 6.1%; Côte de Mauvezin (cat. 3), 2.7km at 6%.


Australian Richie Porte wears the polka dot jersey today even though he is only second in the standings. That's because the current king of the mountain is his team-mate Chris Froome, the man in yellow. Froome has 51 points, Porte 40 and Quintana 32 after yesterday's first HC summit finish.


The gap is still just around 30 seconds for the four leaders, with the peloton not too keen on letting them establish too much of a cushion.


Cannondale-Garmin are there too. They saw both their 'GC' men - Andrew Talansky and Dan Martin - struggle yesterday, dropped with around 10km remaining thanks to the fierce pace set by Sky.


It's Lampre-Merida who are leading the chase. The Italian team clearly fancy doing something today after Spaniard Rafael Valls came up short on the final climb to the summit yesterday.


The gap for the four leaders is just 25 seconds for now. Interesting to see an Astana rider there - it's the second time Westra has been on an early attack. The Dutchman did the same in the cobbled stage to Cambrai last Tuesday.


We have four riders out ahead of the peloton: Lieuwe Westra (Astana) started the move and was joined by Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep), Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka).


We have 183 riders left in the race and the sun is shining again. The current temperature is 27 degrees Celsius and so it's going to be another hot day in the mountains...


They're under way! This 188km stage really suits a break - especially after the exertions of yesterday and ahead of tomorrow's gruelling ascent of Plateau de Beille...


Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has crashed in the neutral zone - something his countryman Alberto Contador managed last week... it's no biggie and he's back on his bike and in the pack.


Today's stage is a 167km schlep from Pau to Cauterets that features the fearsome Pyrenean double of the Col d'Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet. The riders are in the neutral zone...


The Big Four became the Quite Large One-and-a-Half with Froome now leading Nairo Quintana by 3:09, Alberto Contador by 4:04 and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali by 6:57. His nearest rival, however, remains America Tejay Van Garderen of BMC, who is 2:52 down on GC.


Yes, yesterday an extraordinary performance from Team Sky saw yellow jersey Chris Froome ride clear of his rivals in stage 10 to take an emphatic mountain-top victory at La Pierre-Saint-Martin ahead of team-mate Richie Porte. Mirroring their one-two at Ax 3 Domaines in the opening mountain stage of the 2013 Tour de France, Froome and Porte underlined Sky’s dominance in the first day of the high mountains in the 102nd edition of the world's biggest cycling race.


Good morning and welcome to like coverage of stage 11 of the Tour de France - the day after Chris Froome and Team Sky stamped their authority on the race with a one-two at La Pierre-Saint-Martin, plus another rider in sixth place...