Australian Caleb Ewan has claimed his second victory in this year’s Tour de France when he won a tightly-contested sprint to claim the 11th stage – a 167.5-km ride from Chatelaillon-Plage.
The Lotto-Soudal rider threw his bike forward over the line to narrowly beat triple world-champion Peter Sagan, who was relegated to last place in the sprinting group after being judged to have leaned into Belgian Wout van Aert in the final stretch.
“I tried to get out at the last moment, I went out quite late. It was pretty hectic,” Ewan said.
“In the end we’re all really in the heat of the moment and we don’t always think of safety. I’m sure Peter didn’t mean to harm anyone. Maybe he shouldn’t have done that.
I knew from the first stage that I won just to stay calm and wait for the right gap to open.
He added: “I just had a real desire to win today after yesterday and I’m happy to repay my team-mates with the win.”
Sagan, who was excluded from the 2017 Tour de France after elbowing Briton Mark Cavendish in a sprint finish, was also docked 13 points for his dangerous move.
“We accept the jury decision. We always aim to win, but in a respectable way, even when the adrenaline is high in a Tour sprint finish,” Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team said.
However, van Aert was left furious at Sagan’s actions and was in no mood to accept apologies from his Slovakian rival.
“There wasn’t a gap and if you use your elbows to open it up, I think it’s completely against the rules,” van Aert said.
It’s already dangerous enough and I was really surprised and shocked at the moment that I felt something. Really scared.’’
Ireland’s Sam Bennett eventually took second place. He had won the 10th stage the day before, and was hoping for a victory in Poitiers where compatriot and friend Sean Kelly won on the Tour in 1978.
Bennett therefore extended his lead in the points classification to 68, boosting his hopes of securing a first green jersey for Ireland since Kelly in 1989.
Slovenian Primoz Roglic retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey after a quiet day in the main bunch.
He leads defending champion Egan Bernal and France’s Guillaume Martin.
Thursday’s 12th stage is a 218-kilometre ride from Chauvigny to Sarran.