Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Marcel Kittel Asserts Sprint Mastery at the Tour de France

Ben Swift aiming to compete for Tour de France stage wins after Vittel crash Marcel Kittel Asserts Sprint Mastery at the Tour de France
Melody Ballard | 14 July, 2017, 00:47

PAU | The German Marcel Kittel, victor for the fifth time since the start, has exceeded his personal record in the Tour de France after stage 11 on Wednesday in Pau.

Tuesday's flat stage may have been a stroll in the Dordogne countryside, but the prospect of crosswinds on Wednesday has got the Tour de France peloton feeling jittery.

Kittel won by a bike's length and had plenty of time to raise his arms in celebration before crossing the line.

Three riders have looked dominant on the ascents so far in the tour: Chris Froome ([6.60]), Romain Bardet ([10.00]) and Fabio Aru ([6.00]), with Aru's hand strengthened further by Jakob Fuglsang, now 5th in the General Classification and who won the Dauphine.

New Zealand rider George Bennett has kept his spot in the top 10 for another day, the Nelson cyclist remains in 10th, 3 minutes and 53 seconds behind Froome.

Chris Froome says that it was nice for Stage 10 to not be a insane day after the chaos of Sunday. A fifth stage win for Kittel would give the German a almost insurmountable lead in the Tour's green jersey competition, an impressive feat considering the race is only halfway over.

Kittel perfectly timed his effort in the final straight to post his fourth stage win since the start of the race, crossing the line ahead of fellow German John Degenkolb.

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"It's ideal at the moment", said Kittel.

Froome, who leads Aru by 18 seconds after nine stages, said during Monday's first rest day that he just made a mistake.

"Maybe if it was a race where I didn't win a stage yet, maybe I would have panicked with the position I was in", Kittel said.

The peloton hunted down lone escapee Maciej Bodnar (BORA-hansgrohe) in final few hundred metres, with Kittel again bursting clear of the pack to take his fifth win of this edition of the Tour. It will be another day for the sprinters before a mountain marathon of more than 200 kilometers the next day.

Eurosport is the home of the Tour de France.

While none of Froome's rivals lost time, they will be frustrated to have endured nervy moments on a seemingly benign stage before a summit finish on Thursday's stage 12.

Thursday's Stage 12 is extremely hard, with six categorized climbs - three of them either rated one or "hors categorie" - and a short but steep uphill finish to an altitude of 1,580 meters. "I just have to soak it up and to wait for better days".

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