Belgium’s Wout van Aert claimed a fine solo win on stage 11 of the Tour de France as leader Tadej Pogacar showed a first glimpse of vulnerability.
Van Aert dominated the double ascent of Mont Ventoux to finish one minute 14 seconds ahead of Kenny Elissonde and Bauke Mollema.
Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard distanced Pogacar on the second climb of Ventoux.
But the defending champion recovered to catch Vingegaard on the descent, and retains a significant overall lead.
Pogacar is now five minutes 18 seconds ahead of Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran with Vingegaard moving into third, a further 14 seconds behind, as Ben O’Connor dropped from second to fifth after a difficult day for the Australian.
An emotional Van Aert said he was “lost for words” after securing what he described as “maybe my best victory ever”.
“I didn’t expect to win this stage before the Tour but yesterday I asked the team to go for the breakaways,” he said.
“It’s one of the most iconic climbs in the world and it’s maybe my best victory ever.
“I saw the others were suffering a lot and if you believe in it then everything is possible.
“It’s emotional, personally it was really hard to get to this Tour at a proper level and we had so much bad luck with the team and even today we lost Tony Martin. It’s so nice that if you keep motivated some day it will work out. I can be really proud.”
Stage 11 result
1. Wout van Aert (Bel/Jumbo-Visma) 5hrs 17mins 43secs
2. Kenny Elissonde (Fra/Trek-Segafredo) +1min 14secs
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned/Trek-Segafredo) Same time
4. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) +1min 38secs
5. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education Nippo) Same time
6. Richard Carapaz (Ecu/Ineos Grenadiers)
7. Jonas Vingegaard (Den/Jumbo-Visma)
8. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz/Astana) +1min 56 secs
9. Wilco Keldermann (Ned/Bora-Hansgrohe) Same time
10. Enric Mas (Spa/Movistar) +3mins 02secs
General classification after stage 11
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) 38hrs 25mins 17secs
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education Nippo) + 5mins 18secs
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den/Jumbo Visma) +5mins 32secs
4. Richard Carapaz (Ecu/Ineos Grenadiers) +5mins 33secs
5. Ben O’Connor (Aus/AG2R Citroen) +5mins 58secs
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Bora-Hansgrohe) +6mins 16secs
7. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz/Astana) +6mins 30secs
8. Enric Mas (Spa/Movistar) +7mins 11secs
9. Guillaume Martin (Fra/Cofidis) +9mins 29secs
10. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Bahrain Victorious) +10mins 28secs