Mark Cavendish moved into the green jersey for the first time in the Tour de France since the 2009 race after picking up his third stage victory of this year’s edition in Lavaur this afternoon.
Cav started the day off in third place in the standings, but having taken nine points in the intermediate sprint he then added another 45 to his tally after picking up his 18th Tour stage victory.
Yesterday’s winner Andre Greipel beat Tyler Farrar into second, with Cav’s green jersey rivals Jose Rojas finishing in seventh, while overnight leader Philippe Gilbert did not contest the sprint finish.
Speaking afterwards, Cav said: “I just went. I said I’d kick and when I kick normally I get a gap. Acceleration is the strongest part of my sprint…. I hit, and I got the gap.”
The Brit last wore the green jersey on stage 12 of the 2009 Tour, before losing it to Thor Hushovd, who kept it to the end of the race.
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) remains in the yellow jersey, although he is expected to lose that tomorrow on the way to Luz-Ardiden.
A crash free and quiet day
The peloton was reduced to 177 riders this morning after John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale) failed to take the start in Blaye-les-Mines, citing fatigue from the Giro d’Italia, in which he finished fourth overall.
A six-man breakaway – consisting of Ruben Perez (Euskaltel), Lars Boom (Rabobank), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) and Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) – escaped early on in the stage, although like yesterday’s breakaway, the peloton wanted to keep control of affairs and never let their advantage balloon out of control.
Delage took the maximum points on offer at the sprint in Gaillac, but notably Cavendish beat Rojas, Greipel and Gilbert to win the bunch gallop for seventh, thus adding nine points to his tally.
This meant that, provided Cav won the stage, he could take the green jersey if Rojas finished third or lower, and Gilbert couldn’t place in the top seven at the finish.
Not even the rain can stop Cav
Their escapees’ advantage came down as slowly as it went up, and their chances of staying away were bolstered by a downpour that struck within the final 30km.
Despite the heavy rain, which continued after the finish, no crashes were reported throughout the stage.
Responding to the inclement weather, initially the pace in the peloton decreased, and going into the final 10km the six leaders, who continued to work cohesively, had a gap of over a minute.
The bunch failed to make any inroads into their lead between the 8 and 7km to go mark, although the break were hovering at 14s with 5km remaining.
At that point, Boom – one of the strongest time trialists in the race – attacked, and none of his breakaway companions were able to follow his explosive move.
The remnants of the group were reeled in with 3km to go, before Boom was caught with 2km remaining.
However, the hard work in bringing the race back together had meant Cavendish only had loyal servant Mark Renshaw for support.
Luckily, HTC-Highroad were able to benefit from the work done by Garmin-Cervélo, who were trying to set Farrar up for his second stage win in the Tour.
Cavendish clipped Romain Feillu on the run-in, forcing the Brit to adjust his shoes, but ultimately once the race for the line began, nothing was going to stop Cavendish.
Tour de France 2011, stage 11 – Blaye les Mines-Lavaur, 167.5km
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad in 3-46-07
2. Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
3. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervelo
4. Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
6. Romain Fellu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
8. Sebastien Turgot (Fra) Europcar
9. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar
10. William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ all same time
Overall classification after stage 11
1. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar in 42-06-32
2. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank at 1-49
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 2-26
4. Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 2-29
5. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 2-37
6. Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad at 2-38
7. Peter Velits (Slo) HTC-Highroad at 2-28
8. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Radioshack at 2-43
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 2-55
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard-Trek at 3-08
Thomas Voeckler in race lead
The peloton endured another day of rain
Brit Ben Swift
Mark Cavendish wins his third stage and puts himself in the green jersey
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
Tour de France 2011: Latest news
tour de France Feed Zone (July 13)
Greipel’s first Tour stage win ‘extra special’
Greipel takes first win over Cav since HTC split
UCI defends its stance on tilted saddles
Kolobnev tests positive at Tour
Contador worried by knee injury
Tour rest day review (July 11)
Voeckler living the yellow jersey dream again
Hoogerland’s Horror crash
Crashes take toll on Tour’s favourites
Schlecks within striking distance of Tour’s race lead
Wiggins’ operation scheduled for Monday
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Analysis: Cav back on the train again
Sky devastated by Wiggins’ exit from Tour
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Dan Lloyd’s busman’s holiday at the Tour
Wiggins saw Sky’s first Tour win coming
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Cavendish’s race for the Tour green jersey
Cavendish surprises with Tour stage win and press conference
Tour de France 2011: Stage reports
Stage 10: Greipel beats Cavendish in Tour stage 10 sprint
Stage nine: Sanchez conquers day of crashes and climbs
Stage eight: Costa wins first mountain stage of 2011 Tour
Stage seven: Cavendish wins but Wiggins crashes out of Tour
Stage six: Boasson Hagen takes Sky’s first Tour de France win
Stage five: Cavendish wins in Cap Frehel
Stage four: Evans edges out Contador on the Mur-de-Bretagne
Stage three: Farrar sprints to first Tour victory in Redon
Stage two: Garmin win team time trial to put Hushovd in yellow
Stage one: Gilbert blasts to victory as Tour gets off to spectacular start
Tour de France 2011: Highlights videos
Video: Feeding the riders at the Tour
Stage 10 video highlights
Stage nine video highlights
Stage eight video highlights
Stage seven video highlights
Stage six video highlights
Video: Erik Zabel’s role as Cavendish’s sprint advisor
Stage five video highlights
Video: The ride of Philippe Gilbert at the Tour de France
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Tour de France 2011: Photo galleries
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2011 wallpaper gallery
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2011 team time trial training photo gallery by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team presentation by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team press conferences by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team presentation by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2011: Live text coverage
Tour de France 2011 LIVE: CW’s text coverage schedule
Stage seven live text coverage
Tour de France 2011: Archive videos
Video: 2003 Centenary Tour
Video: Lance Armstrong retrospective
Video: Behind the scenes at the Tour
Video: Guerini’s 1999 stage win
Video: Thrills and spills at the Tour
Video: Armstrong in 1999
Video: The Indurain years
Video: Ladies of the Tour
Video: Best of bizarre
Tour de France 2011: Archive articles
1999 Tour de France stage two: Passage du Gois causes chaos
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France: The jerseys, what they are and what they mean
Potted history of the Tour de France
The closest Tours in history
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index