Garmin-Cervélo surged close to victory in Wednesday’s fast and rainy stage across the Massif Central as Tyler Farrar sprinted to third in the 11th stage at the Tour de France.
Farrar – already a winner in stage 3 — was right in the thick of the action for the stage victory after a threatening breakaway was only caught in the closing kilometers.
Garmin-Cervélo’s David Millar counter-attacked late to try to surprise the sprinters, but the pack’s fastest men barreled down the finishing straight to challenge for the flowers.
Mark Cavendish came out on top, but Farrar’s result capped a strong first half of the Tour for Garmin-Cervélo through 11 days of racing at the 2011 Tour, a run that included victory with Farrar in stage three, a win in the team time trial in stage 2 and more than a week in the yellow jersey with Thor Hushovd as well as two third places.
“It was a long, rainy day made really crazy in the downpour at the end. It was a nervous finale,” said Farrar. “The team rode great, we just went a little early. There are still a couple more opportunities for sprint stages. We’ll be looking at those.”
Rain, wind and a hilly course made for a challenging day on the bike, but the peloton seemed happy to put behind them a nervous first half of racing at the Tour that included too many crashes.
On Thursday, the Tour switches gears and pushes south for the first of three days in the Pyrénées.
Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde finished safely in the front group to maintain their strong GC positions in the top-20, with 17th and 19th, respectively.
“We got our guys through in pretty good shape. We had a few crashes, but so did almost everyone else,” said Garmin-Cervélo team manager Jonathan Vaughters.
“The mountains will tell us who our GC rider will be. No one really knows how they will react until they hit the mountains. Both Tommy and Christian say they are feeling good. We shall see.”
The 98th Tour climbs into the mountains for the first time this year with a challenging, three-climb stage. The 211km 12th stage begins in Cugnaux and hit the first of three summits at 141.5km. The route features one first-category climb and two hors-categorie climbs, with a summit finish at the Luz-Ardiden ski area.
More photos from the Tour de France: