This Wednesday, the eleventh stage of the Tour de France featured none other than the mythical ascent of Mont Ventoux, to be accomplished twice. Almost 200 kilometers long, this epic day in the mountains linked Sorgues (Vaucluse) to the Provencal village of Malaucène, with a finish located down the descent of the second passage of the Mont Chauve.
On their way to the double ascent of the Ventoux, the riders first had to complete 100 kilometers, with three climbs listed: the Côte de Fontaine-de-Vaucluse (1.9 km at 5.7%), the Côte de Gordes (2.5 km at 5.4%) and that of La Liguière (9.5 km at 6.4%), ranked 1st category.
Enjoying better weather conditions than the previous days, the breakaway candidates tried to exploit the difficulties at the start of the course to evade from the peloton. After 60 kilometers of racing, 17 riders divided into three groups managed to do so. They then regrouped exactly 100 kilometers from the finish, at the foot of the first climb of the Ventoux, accomplished from Sault (24.3 km at 5%).
Sitting 6 minutes behind the front of the race, fifty riders remained in the peloton, including Louis Meintjes and Georg Zimmermann. Team INEOS dictated the pace of the yellow jersey group up until the slopes of the second time on the Giant of Provence, this time climbed from Bédoin (15.7 km at 8.7%).
The selection was made from behind as they progressed through the slopes. Meintjes maintained contact alongside the Tour’s top climbers, 15 riders strong, until he resorted to his own pace 6 kilometers from the summit. The contenders for the general classification, on their own, then embarked on the 23-kilometer descent towards Malaucène.
After more than 5 hours of racing, it was breakaway survivor Wout Van Aert (Jumbo) who won. Skillfully managing his effort, without exploding, Meintjes rallied the finish in 19th position. In doing so, he continues his progression in the overall standings, and now sits in 16th place, just over a minute and a half from the top 15.