Jasper Philipsen secured his fourth victory in the Tour de France by winning stage 11 from Clermont-Ferrand to Moulins. In an impressive sprint finish, he outpaced his closest competitor, Dylan Groenewegen of Team Jayco AlUla, in the final 100 meters.
Despite the absence of his reliable teammate Mathieu van der Poel from Alpecin-Deceuninck, who was unable to keep up with the peloton due to illness, the Belgian cyclist displayed great skill in crossing the finish line first. Philipsen had previously triumphed in Bayonne, Nogaro, and Bordeaux stages of the race.
“I can win without Mathieu, but of course he makes it more easy,” Jasper Philipsen said. “I had to find my wheel [to follow] and it’s also finding the space. It’s hectic and dangerous, but I’m happy I could find a good wheel. Groenewegen opened up early, and I could go over [the top].”
The Tour’s defending champion, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), finished safely in the peloton and retains a 17-second lead over Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).
The Last of the Trio
A stage earmarked by the sprinters and the baroudeurs (or breakaway artists) stuck to the script, with a three-man move dominating the proceedings until the last of the trio, Daniel Oss (TotalEnergies) was finally swept up with 13km to race. The speed increased as the riders sped over the Pont Régemortes, bridging the Allier river, despite steady rain falling in the closing kilometres. But Philipsen was always in control and unleashed his power in the final 100m to secure a comfortable victory. He now leads the points classification by 150 points.
With the peloton moving steadily towards the Rhone, before crossing towards the Jura and Friday’s next summit finish on the Grand Colombier, speculation continues on how high Yorkshire’s Tom Pidcock can finish in the General Classification. “You can’t say he couldn’t podium,” Rod Ellingworth, the Ineos Grenadiers deputy principal, said. “I think it’s in reach. He’s in that ballpark.”
Pidcock is eighth overall, almost five and a half minutes behind the race leader Vingegaard. Ellingworth said of Pidcock: “He wouldn’t want to lose any more time to the group below the leading two, but I think [a top-three finish] is possible. I definitely think top five is very realistic.
“He’s got that ability to raise his game on the day. You could see that when he won Strade Bianche. All the guys I know who have that ability, who have won Olympic and world titles, they don’t crumble.”
Meanwhile the uncertainty over Mark Cavendish’s future continues, fuelled by the suggestion from his Astana Qazaqstan team that he postpone his planned retirement until the end of 2024, in order to compete in next year’s Tour. According to his sprint consultant and former teammate, Mark Renshaw, Cavendish is now at home in Essex, awaiting surgery on his fractured collarbone. No decision has yet been taken on postponing his retirement, although it is thought that the 38-year-old will wait a couple of months before making a final call on his future.