German Marcel Kittel is rapidly etching his name as the next sprint king of world cycling after claiming his third stage victory in this year’s Tour de France.
Just don’t tell him that. When asked as much on Thursday after he again beat Briton Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Slovakian Peter Sagan (Cannondale) to win the 218-kilometre 12th stage from Fougeres to Tours, Kittel said: ”I don’t use those words.”
But he did not hide his satisfaction, adding: ”I am very proud of this victory. I showed that I can beat the best sprinters, and we as a team showed that we are one of the best lead-out teams.”
Kittel (Argos-Shimano), 25, has risen through the ranks to become one of the world’s best sprinters since he turned professional in 2011. He etched his own place in German cycling history by joining the now-retired Erik Zabel as the only German riders to win three stages in any one Tour.
That was news to Kittel, when told by a German reporter. But you sensed he knew he was part of a welcome renaissance in German cycling when he said: ”I didn’t know about that, but I am proud. It’s a big achievement for me and my team, and for German cycling as well.”
Along with Kittel’s three wins, Germany has also celebrated the victory by Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in the stage-11 time trial from Avranches to Mont Saint Michel, and the win by Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) in stage six from Aix en Provence to Montpellier.
Kittel also took pleasure in knowing that this latest win came off the back of a final sprint that included all the big guns, unlike his first victory in stage one in Corsica when crashes marred the finale and opened up his chance to win, and take the yellow leader’s jersey. Kittel’s second stage win was also fair and square, even though third-placed Cavendish collided with Kittel’s Dutch lead-out rider Tom Veelers, who crashed as a result.
”As a sprinter, you are always looking forward to beating the best guys. That means everyone comes together to the finish line,” Kittel said. ”The last two wins are very special for me, because everyone was there. I cannot say I am less proud [about stage one] – we got the green, yellow and white [jerseys] all in one stage. The other two wins, it’s still crazy, and I am very proud of it.”
One dampener for German cycling came when the nation’s public television confirmed earlier in the day that it would continue refusing to broadcast live coverage of cycling because of its doping history.
”We just have to keep on winning races. What we do now and show now, it’s [the] best advertising you can do as a rider for your own sport. If you do not want to recognise our results, we have to keep on doing our job,” Kittel said. ”Five wins as Germans is a very big thing. I’m very proud of that big achievement. The most important thing is that we can do some advertising for this sport.”
The stage ended in frustration for Orica-GreenEDGE. South African rider Daryl Impey was best placed in fifth, but Australian Matt Goss finished well down in 79th. Canadian teammate Svein Tuft crashed out on a right-hand bend with 4.2 kilometres to go.
Tuft, who placed an impressive sixth in Wednesday’s stage-11 time trial, was riding strongly at the front of the bunch when he skidded out.
”I didn’t realise how much it wrapped around on itself and it’s a little off-camber and I came in too hot and lipped out. That’s how she goes sometimes,” said Tuft, who, at 36, is the oldest Tour rookie since World War II.
It was another difficult day for Sky, the team of British race leader Chris Froome, with his Norwegian teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen forced to withdraw after sustaining a fracture of his right scapula (shoulder blade) in a crash of about 20 riders with 2.6 kilometres to go.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.