The 2019 Tour de France riders begin the trek to the Pyrenees, but don’t be fooled by this innocuous-looking stage. We’re almost certainly in for a bunched sprint finish, but riders will have to be super organised in that final stretch with whoever they are hoping to lead out for a stage victory.
And they won’t get there until they’ve navigated a category three and category four climb. A good day to conserve energy for the general classification contenders. Especially since the race organisers have been so generous and not opted for a hellish mountain stage after the first day of rest.
The hills are coming – so riders will take whatever solace they can get, surely.
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Yellow jersey holder Julian Alaphilippe says his Tour de France is already a success, no matter what happens when the race resumes after Tuesday’s rest day.
“Before the Tour, I wanted to do well (in the first 10 days),” he told a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s 167 kilometre stage 11 from Albi to Toulouse.
“I worked hard with that in mind which is why I am not thinking too much about the end of the Tour but more about what I have achieved over these opening 10 days.
“It’s way beyond anything I imagined. My Tour is already a success. Anything that happens now is a bonus.”
The 27-year-old Frenchman, who earlier this season won the Milan-San Remo and La Fleche Wallone one day races, has had two spells in yellow on this Tour.
After winning stage three in the champagne region, he became the first Frenchman since Tony Gallopin in 2014 to wear it, holding it for three days before handing it over after stage six.
He then reclaimed it again after stage eight when he finished third in Saint-Etienne, donning it on Bastille Day.
Alaphilippe has a lead of one minute 12 seconds over defending champion Geraint Thomas with the Welshman’s Ineos teammate Egan Bernal just four seconds further back.
Tour de France 2019: Stage 11
Profile: We’re back on the flat, more or less, for the run into Toulouse.
Must we really put ourselves through this bit of suffering? This was the stage most expected to be Mark Cavendish’s big comeback win. But he’s not at this year’s tour, of course. Perhaps then, it will be the day his teammates at Dimension Data finally eke out a win for Edvald Boasson Hagen. Defending champion Thomas isn’t expected to really start his challenge until Friday’s time trial, but with all the surprises this year’s race has thrown at us… who knows what might happen.
How to watch and start time
The action will be live on SuperSport 5 from 13:25 and should finish at around 17:30. If you don’t have a Dstv subscription, you can follow Le Tour’s YouTube channel for all the highlights.
Or follow our updates for key events below.
Additional reporting by AFP.