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Tour de France Stage 11: Marcel Kittel takes fifth win, heartbreak for escapee Maciej Bodnar

Breakaway rider caught with 200 metres to go as German sprinter confirms his supremacy

Marcel Kittel of Quick Step Floors has once again confirmed his status as the pre-eminent sprinter left in this year's Tour de France as he took his fifth win in the 104th edition - and the 15th of his career - in Pau this afternoon. Chris Froome of Team Sky retains the race leader's yellow jersey ahead of stages in the Pyrenees over the next two days.

There was heartbreak however for Bora-Hansgrohe's Maciej Bodnar, who had launched a solo attack from the day's three-man break and who was caught with just 200 metres remaning of the 203.5km stage from Eymet - the Dordogne commune that is home to the highest proportion of British immigrants in France.

Bodnar, a former Polish time trial champion, attacked his fellow breakaway riders  Marco Marcato of UAE Team Emirates and Frederik Backaert of Wanty-Groupe Gobert with 28 kilometres remaining, and coming under the 10 kilometre to go banner had an advantage of 40 seconds over the chasing peloton.

That was halved over the next 5 kilometres on the way into Pau, which as the gateway to the western Pyrenees is one of the most visited cities in the race's 114-year history.

But the peoloton would not be denied as the catch was finally made with the line in sight, Kittel winning from LottoNL-Jumbo's Dylan Groenewegen, with Edvald Boasson Hagen of Dimension Data third.

Fabio Aru, second overall, suffered a blow as one of his key support riders in the coming mountain stages, Dario Cataldo, crashed in the feed zone and abandoned with a broken wrist, with fellow Astana rider Jakob Fuglsang also coming down in the same incident.

Another rider to crash today was former winner Alberto Contador of Trek-Segafredo, although the Spaniard - who needs to produce something special in the mountains to reiginite his ambitions of a third victory - remounted and completed the stage.

Reaction

Stage winner (again) Marcel Kittel

It's incredible because even being at the top your game, you're never sure to win. In those five bunch sprints I won, I never made a mistake.

Today again I could jump from wheel to wheel.

It's nice to give the team a win again. Julien Vermote, Jack Bauer, Philippe Gilbert … they're champions and they gave everything for me to win today.

I'm speechless! It's hard to work on winning. Most importantly, I've got the legs and the mind for it at the moment."

Maciej Bodnar, who got today's combativity prize

We are riding without our captains [Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka], so we want to take advantage of our opportunities.

We have to respect our fans, our sponsors and our staff. Usually working for others, it doesn't often happen to me to work for myself.

In the last kilometres, I was thinking that I could do it. With 2km to go, I looked back and I saw the bunch still 200 metres back but it was also only 200 metres … "

Race leader, Chris Froome

In stages like today and yesterday, it's difficult to say if I'm in the shape I want to or not because it's just about cruising in the bunch.

Tomorrow, I'll know more in the mountains but I certainly like to think that my curve is still on the up.

I'm hoping to hit the last week in the best shape I've ever been. I think the number 1 priority will be to not allow someone to come back on GC and I'll keep a close eye on Aru. I'll stick to him like glue.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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dottigirl | 6 years ago
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If they want to beat Kittel in the sprint stages, they're going to have to think up some better tactics. Lotto Soudal just seem to be playing into his hands. 

Kittel is finding space and staying out of trouble. (How many contre-temps has he been involved in, compared to the other sprinters? Zero?) 

I'm hoping Dan McLay can come good - he's learning every sprint, but inexperience in positioning  and timing has undone him. Does he really have the top speed to stay with and pass Kittel though? Today, he was left behind.

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davel replied to dottigirl | 6 years ago
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dottigirl wrote:

Kittel is finding space and staying out of trouble. (How many contre-temps has he been involved in, compared to the other sprinters? Zero?) 

He's having it particularly easy at the moment. Not only with, as you say, other teams playing into his hands, but Sagan and Cav have been missing from his last 3(?) wins and were busy taking each other out in the one Demare won.

Then remove Demare from the bunch, and Renshaw from being a lead-in agitator, and a lot of 'contre-temps' sources go away.

That's not to disparage how easy he's making it look - he's obviously the fastest out there  - but I'm surprised that others haven't been targeting him (Greipel's off the pace, and Bouhanni and Kristoff don't look like they're on top form to me).

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check12 | 6 years ago
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For me, I fast forwarded even the highlights, I suppose it gives me brownie points to watch the next two stages at a more leisurely pace! (Fingers crossed for some action!)

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