The locals call it Le Geante. Others know it as the Beast of Provence. Mont Ventoux has many nicknames, including Bald Mountain, and it’s one of the most difficult climbs in Tour de France history, but that didn’t stop the organizers from sending the peloton to the top of the legendary Mont Ventoux twice this year. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) survived a punishing Stage 11 to claim his first stage win of the year, and his fourth-career win overall.

Wout Van Aert Le Tour de France 2021 Stage 11 Mont Ventoux
A spectator near the summit of Mont Ventoux encourages Wout Van Aert(Jumbo-Visma) during his victory at Stage. (Image: Reuters)

Van Aert finished a disappointing second yesterday in Stage 10 when Mark Cavendish rode to his third stage win at the 2021 Tour de France. Less than 24 hours later, Van Aert bounced back with an impressive victory by crushing the Giant of Provence. He’s known for his sprinting skills, but the versatile rider from Jumbo-Visma also proved he can handle mountain stages and hang with the top climbers in Le Tour.

2021 Tour de France – Stage 11 Results
  1. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 5:17:43
  2. Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) +01:14
  3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

Van Aert held off a pair of riders from Trek-Segafredo — Kenny Elissonde and Bauke Mollema — and beat them to the finish line at Malacuene by 74 seconds.

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar retained the yellow jersey with a fourth-place finish in Stage 11. He now opened a five-minute lead over his closest competitors. Van Aert moved up to 12th place overall in the general classification standings, but he’s more than 25 minutes behind Pogacar.

Stage 11: Sorgues > Malacuene

If anyone wanted to make a move on Pogacar and challenge the Tour de France champion, they’d have to conquer Mont Ventoux. Twice. Stage 11 had riders in the saddle for nearly 200 km with a start in Sorgues and a downhill finish at Malacuene. The peloton made two trips to the summit of Mont Ventoux. The first route, at 22km, is the longest of three trails to the top of Mont Ventoux, but it’s the easiest ride with a Category 1 climb.

The second route via the Col de la Madeleine to Bedoin is the usual ascent that’s only 15.7km long, but with an average gradient of 8.8%, it’s a Category HC climb.

“I wanted to win this stage before the Tour de France and yesterday, I already believed in it,” said Van Aert. “I asked the team to be the guys to go for the breakaways and it’s one of the most iconic climbs in the Tour, and in the world of cycling. Maybe it’s my best victory ever?”

Van Aert won stages in three consecutive years at Le Tour. He picked up two stage wins last year with sprint victories in Stages 5 and 7.

Tony Martin, Van Aert’s teammate at Jumbo-Visma, dropped out of the race in Stage 11. Martin crashed into a ditch before the first ascent of Mont Ventoux and called it quits when it appeared he displayed signs of a concussion. Martin was also involved in a nasty crash that nearly wiped out the whole peloton in Stage 1 when he hit the fan with the sign during an unfortunate moment that’s since gone viral.

Mont Ventoux Stage 11 Tour Le de France 2021
Riders must climb to the top of the legendary Mont Ventoux twice during Stage 11 of the 2021 Tour de France. (Image:

On Deck Stage 12: Saint Paul Trois Chateaux > Nimes

On Thursday, the peloton embarks on a flat 159.4 km ride through the Rhone Valley. Stage 12 starts in Saint Paul Trios Chateaux and ends in Nimes. This could be a difficult stage if the crosswinds pick up.

The finish at Nimes is expected to be a bunch sprint. Keep an eye on Mark Cavendish, who’s seeking to tie Eddy Merckx with 34 stage wins. Cavendish won three sprint stages so far this year and he’s sitting on #33.

2021 Le Tour – Overall GC Standings
  1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 43:44:38
  2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) +5:18
  3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32
  4. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +5:33
  5. Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) +5:58

There are still 10 more stages remaining, including more mountain stages in the Pyrenees, but at this point, it looks like Pogacar will win again, so it’s a fight for the second spot on the podium between one-quarter of the riders. Based on his performance so far, you’ve missed your shot to find any value betting on Pogacar; his odds are now -1667 to win another yellow jersey.

Ben O’Conner, the young Aussie who won Stage 9, slipped from second place to fifth place in the GC. He lost nearly three minutes on Pogacar and now sits nearly six minutes off the lead. Rigoberto Uran from Education-Nippo moved into second place in the GC, but he’s 5:18 behind Pogacar. Jonas Vinegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carpaz (Ineos) are both five-and-a-half minutes behind the leader.

Check out more coverage of the 2021 Tour de France.