MONTPELLIER, France (Reuters) - Chris Froome showed again he will attack his rivals on every terrain as the Briton extended his overall lead in the Tour de France with a surprising move in Wednesday’s 11th stage, which was won with panache by world champion Peter Sagan.
Team Sky’s Froome, along with his lieutenant Geraint Thomas, jumped into the wheel of Sagan when the Slovak broke away from the bunch 12km from the finish with his Tinkoff team mate Maciej Bodnar of Poland.
The four built an advantage of about 20 seconds until the sprinters’ teams started their effort, but they could not catch the late fugitives.
Sagan, already a stage winner in Cherbourg, outsprinted Froome to take the day’s laurels and deliver an almost final blow to Mark Cavendish in the green jersey race after the Briton was left behind in the finale because of a mechanical problem.
Sagan, Froome and Bodnar finished six seconds ahead of the pack, which means the defending Tour champion extended his lead by 12 seconds as he collected six bonus seconds for his second place ahead of Thursday’s much-feared 12th stage which ends up Mont Ventoux.
Froome had already taken his opponents by surprise when he attacked in the final descent of the eighth stage last Saturday.
He now leads fellow Briton Adam Yates (Orica-Bike Exchange) by 28 seconds and Ireland’s Dan Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) by 31 while last year’s runner-up Nairo Quintana (Movistar) of Colombia lies fourth 35 seconds off the pace.
Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez, tipped as potential podium finisher, ended up 1:090 behind Sagan after being trapped behind following a bunch split on a windy day.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris