Kelly: Cavendish isn’t slowing, it’s just that Kittel has an unbelievable turn of speed in the last 100 metres
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Kelly: Cavendish isn’t slowing, it’s just that Kittel has an unbelievable turn of speed in the last 100 metres

by Shane Stokes at 6:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
“Cavendish is desperate for stages. There will be a real drive today by his team to get a stage win with him”

Sean KellyFour time winner of the Tour de France’s green jersey Sean Kelly has said that he believes this year’s Tour is more a case of Marcel Kittel emerging and showing great form rather than Mark Cavendish slipping backwards.

Speaking to VeloNation prior to the start of today’s stage to St. Amand Montrond, the former world number one believes its premature to start talking about a decline for Cavendish, even though the Omega Pharma Quick Step rider has clocked up just one sprint win thus far, and was overhauled by Kittel yesterday.

“I don’t think Cavendish is slowing down. I think the German guy Kittel is in an unbelievable shape at the moment. He is having a really good Tour. When you look at Kittel, he beat Greipel in Saint Malo very convincingly as well,” Kelly said.

“Greipel had a real good leadout train in Malo. It did a great job. Maybe it put him on front a little bit early, but for Greipel, he likes to take it up early because he is a big, powerful sprinter. With sixty metres to go to the line, it looked like he was going to win as he had at least two bike lengths of an advantage, yet Kittel was able to get past him in time.

“Yesterday was the same – I think the leadout was good for Cavendish. Maybe not excellent, but Steegmans put him in the position where he wants to be in that final 180, 200 metres,” Kelly continued.

“There was a tailwind yesterday so there is not a question that Cavendish took it up too early. He was going fast, but it was just a case that Kittel was moving even quicker.”

Since 2008, Cavendish has taken multiple stage wins in the Tour. He clocked up four victories that year, then twelve months later he clocked up a staggering six. Five followed in both 2010 and 2011, plus three last year.

Thus far, he has hit the line first on stage five of this year’s race, and also scored placings of second, third and fourth.

“It is not a question that Cavendish is after slowing down, I think – this guy Kittel has an unbelievable power and he has an unbelievable turn of speed in the final 100 metres,” said Kelly. “He just turns on the gas and that’s the way things are. He is a new guy and he is just going real fast at the moment. It is causing problems for Greipel and Cavendish.”

Early in Kelly’s career, he was one of the most feared sprinters in the Tour, clocking up four stage wins, but didn’t take any more after 26 years of age. Instead, he became a better rider in one day races and also multi-day events.

Cavendish is now 28, but Kelly doesn’t believe that a similar shift will happen. “I think it is the case for some guys that if you try to become a Classic rider or a stage race rider, then your outright speed does drop off a bit. But with Cavendish, I don’t think that is the case because he doesn’t focus on the Classics. Milan Sanremo is the only one, really. I don’t think that should be a problem for Cavendish at all…at his age, I don’t think it should be dropping off.

“It is just that Kittel is going real fast. Cavendish might be a little bit off his real top edge, but I don’t think there is any major slowdown.”

Today’s stage has just a single fourth category climb, then a flat run in towards the finish. Kelly believes that the Briton’s team is going to be very focussed on getting things exactly right and trying to notch up sprint win number two.

“Cavendish is desperate for stages. With Quick Step they are going to be more and more desperate when the days go by. Missing out yesterday was another opportunity, and there is going to be a real drive today by his team to get a stage win with him. I think tomorrow could well be the first time that a breakaway makes it to the finish, so it just leaves today’s stage for the sprinters prior to the Alps.

“I think if Mark doesn’t get a victory today, that is going to work on his mind in the mountains. He’ll be asking himself, ‘am I losing it in the sprint?’ That is always a problem for sprinters, because a lot of it is in the head. So he’ll be really determined to try to take a win today.”


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