Vingegaard edges Pogacar in thrilling stage 11 finish

Jonas Vingegaard has claimed victory in the 11th stage of the Tour de France, sprinting past race leader Tadej Pogacar after a gruelling battle in the Massif Central. The Danish rider’s triumph marks his fourth Tour stage win and comes just months after a severe crash threatened his season.

The 211km route from Évaux-les-Bains to Le Lioran featured four punishing climbs in the final 60km. Pogacar, wearing the yellow jersey, launched a powerful attack on the Puy Mary, leaving Vingegaard trailing by 30 seconds. However, the defending champion clawed back the gap on the Col de Pertus, joining Pogacar near the summit.

Despite Pogacar’s explosive final sprint, Vingegaard managed to outpace him in the closing metres, securing a narrow victory. Nearly five hours of breathless racing and 211km later, only a photo finish could separate them, with Vingegaard gaining just one second in his pursuit of a third successive yellow jersey.

The day’s racing began with frenetic attacks as teams vied for a breakaway. EF Education-EasyPost were among the most aggressive, with Richard Carapaz and Ben Healy frequently pushing forward. Ultimately, a strong group of ten, including Carapaz and Healy, formed the breakaway, but UAE Team Emirates kept the peloton within striking distance.

As the race progressed, the breakaway’s advantage diminished. UAE Team Emirates and other GC teams took control, reducing the gap to under a minute by the time the riders reached the Puy Mary. Pogacar’s attack on the climb created a small lead, but Vingegaard’s determination saw him close the gap on the subsequent descent and climb.

Tadej Pogacar
(Photo Credit: ASO – Billy Ceusters)

Remco Evenepoel finished third, managing to bridge the gap to the faltering Primoz Roglic after the latter crashed near the final kilometre. Roglic’s time was adjusted due to the 3km rule, placing him fourth, 25 seconds behind the leaders.

Several notable incidents occurred during the stage. Bahrain-Victorious riders Fred Wright, Pello Bilbao, and Matej Mohoric struggled, potentially due to illness – Bahrain riders allegedly travelled to the start in different cars with affected riders with masks on similar to the Covid era. While Cofidis lost both Ion Izagirre and Alexis Renard. The intense pace of the race, averaging close to 50kph in the opening 90 kilometres, proved too much for some.

After the race, Vingegaard shared his thoughts on the victory: “It’s of course very emotional for me. Coming back from the crash, it means a lot and all the things I went through in the last three months. It makes you think of that and I would never have been able to do this without my family.”

Reflecting on his journey, he added, “I couldn’t follow the attack he had, it was very strong and I just had to fight. Actually, I didn’t think that I would be able to make it back but I just kept fighting and I made it back, started relaying with him and I’m a bit surprised I could beat him in the sprint.”

“It’s more than I would ever have expected,” he said, noting the doubts he had faced since his crash. “I mean, with the crash I had, I really believed I was going to die three months ago. Now, sitting here with a stage victory in the biggest race of the world is really unbelievable.”

Pogacar, who retains the yellow jersey, noted the intensity of the competition. “I was only thinking about doing my own pace and then doing the sprint,” he said, reflecting on the final moments of the stage.

Vingegaard’s victory not only cuts Pogacar’s lead by one second but also serves as a significant psychological boost as the Tour heads towards the Pyrenees. Pogacar retains the yellow jersey, with Evenepoel and Vingegaard close behind in the general classification.

Jonas Vingegaard leading Tadej Pogacar
(Photo Credit: ASO - Billy Ceusters)
Jonas Vingegaard leading Tadej Pogacar (Photo Credit: ASO – Billy Ceusters)

2024 Tour de France Stage 11 result

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Main photo credit: Cor Vos

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