Jasper Philipsen is unmatched in his sprinting prowess at the Tour de France. Even when his supporting teammate is absent, he remains victorious. The Belgian speedster recorded his fourth stage victory in this year’s Tour de France on Wednesday, escalating his career wins to six and claiming his first win since Stage 7.
The general classification experienced no substantial shifts: Jonas Vingegaard maintained his 17-second lead over twice-crowned champion Tadej Pogacar. Jai Hindley stayed in the third spot, trailing by 2 minutes, 40 seconds.
Riding for Alpecin–Deceuninck, Philipsen had been expertly shepherded by his lead-out colleague, Mathieu van der Poel, in his earlier stage triumphs. Despite being on his own this time, he aced the timing of his manoeuvre and again emerged as the strongest in the final, hectic kilometre of the 180-kilometre (112 miles) Stage 11 journey from Clermont-Ferrand to Moulins in central France.
Philipsen has only been bested in one of the five group sprints that have occurred in this year’s Tour, with Mad Pedersen taking Stage 8. Without van der Poel’s participation in Wednesday’s sprint, Philipsen expertly navigated through traffic at an average pace of 65.6 kph (40.8 mph) in the final kilometre, joining Mark Cavendish as the sole active cyclist with at least four stage victories in a single Tour edition. Cavendish was forced to retire from the race last week due to a crash.
Following the sprint initiated by Alexander Kristoff, Dylan Groenewegen responded with Philipsen in tow. The Belgian’s might proved to be too overwhelming for Groenewegen, who had to settle for second place. Phil Bauhaus secured the third podium spot for the stage.
After a demanding day of racing under scorching weather, which greatly affected the peloton, Andrey Amador took the lead right at the start of the stage but promptly noticed a lack of interest from others in forming a break.
For a time, Amador led just a few metres ahead of the group before Matis Louvel and Daniel Oss joined him as they pulled ahead, facing no opposition from the peloton.
With only three cyclists in the lead, the breakaway was set for failure, and the sprinters’ team remained unperturbed, confident they would overtake the trio further along the road. The main group was content to hang back for a while, maintaining a relaxed pace along lengthy stretches of flat roads, framed by sunflower fields.
However, amidst crosswinds inducing nervousness among the contending teams about potential splits, the pursuit began quite early. The lead of the three riders dwindled to a mere 30 seconds with about 75 kilometres remaining. Louvel was the first to back off, followed by Amador. Oss persisted solo at the front a tad longer, managing to recover some time. Despite a heavy downpour 30 kilometres from the finish, the peloton continued unfazed, overtaking Amador around 14 kilometres from the end.
Thursday’s 169-kilometre (105 miles) Stage 12, from Roanne to Belleville-en-Beaujolais, presents a hilly course that may give breakaways an edge. The contest for the yellow jersey is anticipated to reignite on Friday with the climb of the Grand Colombier, a colossal ascent concluding the stage.
“It’s been an incredible Tour so far. I can’t realise how good it is all going, so I’m super proud and really happy with my shape. And also, to get through the final without problems is also a big challenge, and we managed to do it four times, so I’m super happy. I can also win without (van der Poel), but of course, he makes it more easy, I had to find my wheel a little bit, and it’s also finding the space, and it’s hectic and dangerous for crashing, but I’m happy I could find a good wheel — Groenewegen — in the end, he opened up early, and I could go over,”Jasper Philipsen
2023 Tour de France Stage 11 result
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