Marcel Kittel: “We’ve been working a long time for this”
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Marcel Kittel: “We’ve been working a long time for this”

by Kyle Moore at 8:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Loaded Argos-Shimano sprint train getting better with age and experience

Marcel KittelMarcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) blasted to stage victory number three in the 2013 Tour de France, with all three of his career Tour stage wins coming in this 100th edition of the race. What made the third in the German’s treble so surprising was the manner in which he won.

Kittel came out of the slipstream of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and beat the Manx Missile in a drag race, a feat that is rarely accomplished. With his three victories, Kittel is, for now at least, the man to beat in the flat finish.

In defense of some other sprinters, Kittel has an entire team of largely unheralded riders built solely around his ambitions. But as they have gained experience in three-week tours, strong men such as Tom Veelers, Simon Geschke, and Koen De Kort have combined to form a potent group of shepherds for Kittel.

To his credit, Argos-Shimano’s other star German sprinter, John Degenkolb, has also been selfless in his contributions to Kittel’s success. Degenkolb was seen whipping up the crowd after helping lead out his countryman’s stage 12 victory.

Kittel used the whole of his team to win stage 12, and he handed out ample praise afterward.

“This win today means a lot to me. It’s the third win for the team, which is incredible. The team again did a really good job,” Kittel praised. “They worked hard and kept me out of the wind all day. In the final kilometers it was our train against Omega Pharma-Quick Step. When the last lead-out man pulled off I jumped to the right wheels and had a very good position when Mark Cavendish started the sprint. I stayed calm and was able to overtake him in the end, but it was very close.”

The Argos-Shimano lead out used most of its bullets early on stage 12, leaving just Veelers to pull off too soon for Kittel to open it up. But the German wisely jumped to Cavendish’s wheel, and came out of it just in time to pip the British rider by half a wheel-length.

“Today it was great to beat Cavendish in a straightforward sprint,” Kittel admitted. “In the final 200 metres I was able to sit on his wheel. We started the sprint together, and I had the best punch at the end.

“We’ve done a good job so far, and I’m proud to know that I can beat the world’s best. Before the Tour we knew the team worked and we had prepared well, but when everything falls into place like this it is incredible. We’ve been working a long time for this, so these three wins are a big reward.”

Team manager Iwan Spekenbrink echoed his sprinter’s words.

“Victory number three is as beautiful as the first two,” he enthused. “Marcel and the team are just outstanding at the moment. All our preparations and efforts have come together in this Tour de France, which makes it even more beautiful. We see that teamwork can make the difference, especially in sprinting. That’s why we’ve spent so much time and effort bringing the right individuals together and helping them develop in their positions, training on tactics, and giving them full guidance.”

Kittel’s second go-round at the Tour is going much better than his first, when he developed illness and had to drop out after just a few stages, having never contested a sprint. Argos-Shimano director Rudi Kemna pointed to Kittel’s form in his successful second Tour.

“Incredible! What a day. We knew we had a good opportunity again today with Marcel, so we took responsibility and helped control the race,” said Kemna. “Marcel is in top shape at the moment, so even in a long, straight finish he is really strong and fast. The team around him also contributed to this success, of course, and with this third win we can see that our way of working really pays off.

“You can see that our guys are getting more confident and believe in themselves. With success comes more pressure, but we can handle it and we are happy to get this pressure. Hopefully this well-oiled machine will keep on rolling and we can aim for more success.”


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