Kittel at Tour de France: “This is absolutely awesome and I really cannot believe it”
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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kittel at Tour de France: “This is absolutely awesome and I really cannot believe it”

by Shane Stokes at 3:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Second Tour going to plan for German rider, Kristoff rues missed opportunity

Marcel KittelSick during last year’s Tour and abandoning on the fifth stage with 25th place in the opening time trial as his best result, Marcel Kittel has quickly surpassed his debut in this year’s event.

The Argos Shimano rider avoided the crash which prevented Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick Step), Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) from being involved in the final sprint, and then blasted home at the head of the reduced peloton.

It is the biggest success of his career, and follows a string of other good results since he turned pro.

“This morning I just thought I'd try to go a good race, that's what I always think before I line up at the start,” he said after his triumph. “I was just trying to do my best and now we've got the yellow jersey. This is absolutely awesome and I really cannot believe it.”

Second on the stage was the Katusha rider Alexander Kristoff, who noted afterwards that he burned up power before he should have. “I stayed too much time with the headwind, so I lost a lot of energy and in the end I was a bit tired,” he explained. “Anyways, I managed to come back to the first positions: but when I wanted to start my rush I was closed in.

“As soon as I saw a chance to sprint I did it, but I saw that Kittel was really fast. Moreover, he's usually faster than me when the finish line is flat because I'm less explosive than him. But I'm satisfied anyway with my performance. I'm in a good shape, so tomorrow let's see what's going to happen.”

Kittel spoke about the ‘chaos’ in the finale, with riders’ determination to dispute the sprint being heightened by the fact that the maillot jaune was up for grabs. Also adding to the confusion were the messages that some riders received about changes to the finish line; a decision forced by the fact that the Orica GreenEdge bus was stuck under the finish gantry, and then changed when officials were able to move the vehicle in time.

While Kittel said that he didn't know about the problem, other riders did and sought to get into position three kilometres earlier than expected. The resulting confusion ramped up the mayhem in the bunch, and may have contributed to the crash.

Fortunately Kittel avoided it, and he ended the day on top of the podiums for the stage win, the green jersey, the white jersey as best young rider and, best of all, the Maillot Jaune.

“It's perfect to have the yellow jersey: it's like gold on shoulders and I'm so, so happy that I can wear it today,” he enthused.

“The finish was hectic. Chaotic. There were quite a lot of crashes and then, in the end, we had to do a lead-out that was far from normal. We had to go really early, with one-and-a-half kilometres to go to the finish.

“Unfortunately some of my sprint rivals crashed today and it's always nice to compete against the best and to show that you can also win against them, not only if there's a crash. I'm looking forward to the next stages to sprint against André [Greipel] and Mark [Cavendish]. To be honest though, I don't want to even think about the next few stages; right now I just want to enjoy the yellow jersey and we'll see what happens tomorrow.”

Kittel thanked his team-mates for their earlier work but also said that the mayhem at the end meant that things didn’t play out as expected. “In the end, I had to stay in the wheel of Marcel Sieberg – I think that's who it was, but it might have been Jurgen Roelandts – and then, when I saw the 180 metres sign, I just went full-gas and sprinted with all I have.”

He’s been one of the best sprinters in the world for several years but even so, he admitted he was surprised to finally land a Tour stage win. “I was shocked, to be honest... but in the best way for how you can feel shocked!” he said.

Wearing yellow tomorrow will reinforce the surreal experience, but will also be a hugely motivating day for him.


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