Australian Caleb Ewan claimed his second victory in this year’s Tour de France when he prevailed in a tightly contested sprint to win the 11th stage, a 167.5-km ride from Chatelaillon-Plage on Wednesday.
The Lotto-Soudal rider threw his bike forward over the line to narrowly beat triple world champion Peter Sagan, who was judged to have leaned into Belgian Wout van Aert in the final stretch and was relegated to last place in the sprinting group.
“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.”
Ireland’s Sam Bennett, who won Tuesday’s 10th stage and was hoping for a victory in Poitiers where compatriot and friend Sean Kelly won on the Tour in 1978, took second place.
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.
Bennett extended his lead in the points classification to 68 points, 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 at the end of a dull stage in which France’s Matthieu Ladagnous was the only breakaway rider.
Thursday’s 12th stage is a 218-km ride from Chauvigny to Sarran.