Bradley Wiggins of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, climbs Croix de Fer pass. Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images

Sprint Finish: Rolland wins 11th stage, Wiggins drops Evans

Wiggins extended his lead in the General Classification while Irish hope drops to 13th overall after a tough day at the office.

Result: Frenchman Pierre Rolland claimed an epic 11th stage victory as race leader Bradley Wiggins of Britain took another step towards overall victory. Rolland soloed over the finish line to claim his second victory in the race a year after his maiden win at Alpe d’Huez to hand Europcar their second win in as many days. Wiggins extended his lead in the General Classification over Australia’s defending champion and his arch rival Cadel Evans.

How it happened: Wiggins came under attack several times on the final 18km climb to La Toussuire — notably by Nibali and Van den Broeck. But thanks to the help of Sky teammate Chris Froome the Englishman was ultimately able to reel them in and then drop defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia. Evans, the 2011 champion, ran out of steam in the final kilometres of the climb to finish over a minute behind Wiggins and see his bid for a successful defence severely compromised. Evans started the day in second place with a deficit of 1min 53sec to Wiggins but dropped to fourth overall at 3:19. Wiggins now leads teammate Froome by 2:05, with Nibali third but still at 2:23 and Van den Broeck fifth at 4:48.

Rolland? After fighting to get into an early breakaway the Frenchman toiled with a number of rivals over the Col de la Croix de Fer summit, where he lost a €5000 prize to Swede Fredrik Kessiakoff, and then bounced back from a crash on a tight hairpin bend on the descent of the Col du Mollard. On the last, 18 km climb to the summit of La Toussuire the Europcar man played his tactics perfectly, attacking and counter-attacking a four-man leading group before pulling away on his own with over 10 km to race.

The big winner: Wiggo, baby. He’s still there on an intense day when he looked less than comfortable at times.

What about the Irish? Nicolas Roche — who huffed and puffed at ties — finished 19th, six minutes and 17 seconds behind the winner and is now 13th overall. Roche’s cousin Daniel Martin was passed by Wiggins on the final climb and is now 50th.

So what happens tomorrow then? Another strategic, long stage featuring the Col de Grand Cucheron and the Col du Granier.

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