Numerous big names hit the deck throughout the 168.5km stage, with the peloton nervous due to the windy conditions and narrow roads.
Sam Bewley (Mitchelton-Scott) was forced to abandon his debut Tour de France with a broken wrist after being caught in a mass crash 100 kilometres into the stage. Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) also went down hard, with Neilson Powless (EF Pro Cycling), Toms Skujinš, Mads Pedersen (both Trek-Segafredo) and Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma).
UAE Team Emirates and Cofidis suffered a fright with 65 kilometres remaining in the race as their team leaders, respectively Tadej Pogačar and Guillaume Martin, crashed. Both were brought back into the race by their teams quickly.
“It was as we were coming into [the town of] Rochefort, there was a crash in front of me and I couldn’t avoid it," said Martin. "Throughout the day the race had been very stressful, with a lot of roundabouts, traffic islands and so on and the crosswinds added to the stress.
"I had a bit of back pain after falling, it could be my vertebrae took a blow, and we’ll have to check that out later once I’ve had some time to recover a little."
Pogačar has been enjoying a good personal run, but his team have lost two members now over the last two stages. Fabio Aru was dropped early on Stage 9 and withdrew from the race, and now Davide Formolo has been ruled out of contention with a broken collarbone after falling in a later crash.
The team stayed near the front all day and kept me out of trouble as much as possible,” said Pogačar.
“When I crashed, the guys waited and got me back on. [Teammate] Davide Formolo crashed hard, although he managed to finish the stage. He’s in a lot of pain, and we hope he can recover.”
The bad news for Formolo came through after the stage from UAE Team Emirates' Dr.Jeroen Swart.
"Davide has a midshaft clavicle fracture which is minimally displaced," said Swart. "He will have an operation on it in the next 48 hours and will hopefully be back racing in 5 - 6 weeks."
Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation), Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling), Damiano Caruso (Bahrain McLaren), Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Pogačar's teammate Davide Formolo also went down, with the Italian suffering a fractured clavicle.
With 31 kilometres left and with the nervy peloton anticipating crosswinds in the finale, the Arkéa-Samsic duo of Warren Barguil and Kévin Ledanois both crashed in the middle of the peloton before having to pick their way through the team car convoy to return to the peloton.
As the crosswinds hit, the peloton was driven by Michal Kwiatkowski, Luke Rowe and Dylan Van Baarle (all INEOS Grenadiers) which created a major split in the race. It appeared that Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) was the main rider caught out in the initial split, but the race was to come back together in a few kilometres after a major crash in the peloton.
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) hit the ground as the main bunch attempted to manoeuvre around a central reservation in the road. Jonas Koch (CCC Team) also fell and stayed on the road for quite a long time after the peloton had departed.
Stage 11 of the Tour de France is a 167.5 kilometre stage from Chatelaillon-Plage to Poitiers and looks like another chance for the sprinters. Watch the race on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker from 9.15pm AEST, with television coverage starting from 9.30 AEST on SBS HD.