• Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan crosses the finish line ahead of Deceuninck-QuickStep Sam Bennett (Getty)Source: Getty
A final, chaotic sprint lit up a sleepy stage 167-kilometre stage from Châtelaillon-Plage to Poitiers, with Caleb Ewan claiming the victory.
By
SBS Cycling Central

10 Sep 2020 - 2:08 AM 

Ewan picked his way through the maelstrom of riders in the sprint, emerging at the last possible moment to claim his second Tour de France win of the 2020 edition, his fifth in total.

"It was very, very hectic," said Ewan. "I was really close to the front through from that three to one kilometres to go. I was more forward than I'd like to have been, particularly with the headwind finish.

"I dropped back into the bunch a bit and from there it was quite crazy. I knew from the first stage I won to keep calm and wait for the right gap to open and it did in the end quite late.'

Ewan came off Sam Bennett's (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wheel to poke past the sprint classification leader at the finish, with Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) also edging out Bennett on the line for second. In doing so, Ewan avenged the result from Stage 10, where he felt that he left his sprint a little late.

"I had a real desire to win today after yesterday," said Ewan, "I was quite disappointed with my sprint. I'm delighted to repay my teammates again with the stage win.

"I saluted just in case. I did a big throw and when you throw you're always looking down at the ground. Sometimes you can feel it and I felt like I was quite close."

Ewan looked ahead to Paris, where he hopes to make it two Champs-Élysées wins in a row after triumphing last year.

"One win takes the pressure off," said Ewan, "and when you've got the first, you always want the second and now I'm sure that I'm going to want a third."

Sagan was relegated to last place in the group by the race jury for an 'dangerous sprint' after headbutting Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) during the run to the line, with the Belgian star upgraded to third place from his initial spot of fourth. Bennett was moved up to second on the stage.

Matthieu Ladagnous (Groupama-FDJ) galloped away from the flag drop on the 167-kilometre flat stage to Poitiers,  but soon looked around rueing the absence of fellow breakaway companions to share the load. 

When the Frenchman reached a maximum of five minutes at 18 kilometres, a tasty breakaway group of heavyweights Oliver Naesen (AG2R-La Mondiale), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tom Van Asbroeck (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Michael Gogl (NTT) hopped off in pursuit, fancying their chances. 

Bennett now with firm grasp on green jersey after Sagan relegation
Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) beat Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quickstep) to the line on Stage 11 of the Tour de France, but was relegated after the race jury found that he had sprinted in an irregular manner when he shouldered Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) on the run to the line, relegating the Slovakian star to last position in the group.
Sagan relegated after shoulder barge in final sprint
Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) was relegated by the commissaire's panel at the conclusion of Stage 11 of the Tour de France after headbutting Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) late in the sprint.

The move and the deficit to Ladagnous worried sprinters' teams Deceuninck–Quick-Step and Lotto Soudal who soon closed down both, swallowing up the pursuers and reducing Ladagnous' lead to just over one minute. 

The peloton let out the elastic a little, allowing Ladagnous a maximum of around three minutes at 50 kilometres travelled where it hovered until the catch was made 43 kilometres from the finish.  

The sprint trains began to jostle and fight for supremacy in the final 15 kilometres. Lukas Pöstlberger (BORA-hasngrohe) tried an attack from the peloton with six kilometres to go, with a pair of Deceuninck-QuickStep riders in Kasper Asgreen and Bob Jungels jumping away to join the Austrian.

The trio forged a gap over the chasing main bunch, with Asgreen swinging off after driving the pace into a small rise into the finish. The peloton made the catch with two kilometres remaining, with the sprinters lining up to contest the finish without a dominant leadout by a sprint train.

Van Aert was the first to launch the final dash to with the sprinters coming home in the closest finish of the Tour, Caleb Ewan the best after finding his way through on Bennett's wheel late.  

 

The Tour de France continues tonight with Stage 12, the longest of this year’s race, a 218-kilometre course similar to an Ardennes classic from Chauvigny to Sarran. Watch the race on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker from 7.40pm AEST, with television coverage starting from 9.30 AEST on SBS HD.