TOULOUSE – Tour de France debutant Caleb Ewan sprinted to victory on Stage 11 of the Tour de France on Wednesday, while Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe kept the race leader’s yellow jersey a day before the race enters the high mountains.
Ewan, a 25-year-old Australian, edged fellow sprinter Dylan Groenewegen by a tyre’s width, and was awarded the victory after a photo finish.
Elia Viviani placed third.
Ewan is part of a new generation of sprinters who are trying to dethrone three-time world champion Peter Sagan.
After winning stages at the Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta, he now added his first Tour victory to complete the list of Grands Tours.
On a transition day without big difficulties, the main favourites did not take any risks, and there were no significant changes in the overall standings.
But there was a crash about 30 kilometres from the finish line that left Niki Terpstra with a suspected collarbone fracture and took him out of the race.
Overall contenders Nairo Quintana and Richie Porte were also involved in the pile-up, but got back on their bikes.
Four riders broke free of the pack just after the start outside Albi, and at one stage had a lead of 3 minutes, 27 seconds.
The pack accelerated in the last 60km and the last of the breakaway riders, Aime de Gendt, was caught with 4.5km left.
Ewan perfectly timed his effort after Groenewegen launched the final sprint on the left side of the road.
Ewan took the wheel of his Dutch rival and pipped him to the line in a very tight finish.
The battle for the general classification is expected to intensify over the next five days, with three mountain stages and a time trial on the programme.
Thursday’s stage features two first category climbs.