Cycling: Gallopin escapes to victory

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Tony Gallopin continued his successful Tour de France by escaping to a late solo victory on stage 11 as Vincenzo Nibali retained his overall lead.
Two days after spending a stage in the yellow jersey, Gallopin attacked out of a lead group of four riders 2.7km from the finish line in Oyonnax and hung on to win by just a handful of metres.
What was left of the peloton tried to chase him down at the death but ultimately fell short, with John Degenkolb having to settle for second and Matteo Trentin following in third.
Nibali and his closest rivals for overall victory all survived a fast-paced and frenzied final 30km to consolidate their positions in the general classification, with the Italian still leading second-placed Richie Porte by 2min 23sec and third-placed Alejandro Valverde by 2min 47sec.
Gallopin, who claimed the first Tour stage win of his career, said afterwards: “It’s unbelievable. Two days ago I was in yellow – it was one of the best days of my life. Then, after the rest day, I said it’s a new start and the legs were super, so I said, ‘OK, I’ll try’.
“I had three guys with me and I thought I can’t beat these guys in a sprint. But then there was no organisation in the group, so I thought, ‘I try again’. At 100m it was OK, and then at 50m it was done. It was incredible to win.”
Stage 11 saw the riders return to action after the race’s first rest day on a 187.5km route starting in Besancon and ending with four categorised climbs in the last 50km.
Although it looked suited to a breakaway winner, only Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) from the initial three-man escape survived the first climb, and he was then joined on the third climb by Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), who had all attacked out of the peloton.
With their gap also plummeting, Roche attempted a solo attack 21km out on the final climb, the Cote d’Echallon, and although he built up a small lead over the summit, he was caught early in the fast descent to the finish line.
After the peloton had temporarily split and then reformed, Gallopin seized on a momentary lull in action to launch a fresh escape, 13.5km from home, but his chances of victory looked to have evaporated when he was caught by Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and Mick Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) with 4km remaining.
However, with no one wanting to commit to driving the pace and a heavily thinned-down peloton closing in, Gallopin took the opportunity to mount a second attack and this time could not be caught.
Nibali, who managed to remain at the head of the race throughout the action-packed finale, said: “It was another difficult day. There was a lot of tension out there, especially in that final part, which was tricky. There were a lot of attacks but I managed to do my job and stay at the front.”
Stage 11 result
1 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol, 4:25:452 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant Shimano, same time3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, st4 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff – Saxo, st5 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, st6 José Joaquín Rojas (Spa) Movistar, st7 Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, st8 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st9 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, st10 Kévin Reza (Fra) Europcar, st
General classification
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 46:59:232 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +2:233 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +2:474 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +3:015 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol, +3:126 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr, +3:477 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, +3:568 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +3:579 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +4:0810 Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol, +4:18

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