Targeting first yellow jersey of 2014 Tour de France, Kittel set to go head to head with Cavendish in Harrogate
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Targeting first yellow jersey of 2014 Tour de France, Kittel set to go head to head with Cavendish in Harrogate

by VeloNation Press at 11:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Can German rider hold onto his new crown as fastest Tour de France sprinter?

Marcel KittelHaving worn the yellow jersey after winning stage one of the 2013 Tour de France, Marcel Kittel has made clear that a major goal for him in next year’s race is to repeat that feat and once again top the podium at the end of day one.

The Argos Shimano rider was one of many big names in attendance at yesterday’s unveiling of the 2014 Tour route and he identified the opening leg to Harrogate as perhaps his top target.

“It is the first sprint in the Tour de France, the first stage. We will hopefully fight for the yellow jersey and so that is why I choose that stage,” he said, when asked by Eurosport to select which one he most hoped to win. “For the sprinters, it is a very rare opportunity to get the yellow jersey.”

Teams riding the Tour de France are under very considerable pressure to clock up a stage win; taking the opening leg of the race plus the Maillot Jaune immediately takes the pressure off and ensures that the campaign is already a success.

Kittel knows that, and so too does Cavendish, who spent time as a child in Harrowgate as his mother is from the area.

“The first stage finishes in my home town,” said Cavendish yesterday, although he’s more often associated with the Isle of Man, where he grew up. “A lot of my family will be there. We have an apartment fifty metres from the finish line. I used to stay there two or three times a year as a child, right by the finish line.

“It will be the second opportunity in my career to try for the yellow jersey. Obviously I missed it this year, I would like to try again for the stage win and the yellow jersey.

Kittel will recognise the value to Cavendish, but won’t be feeling altruistic. In taking four stage wins in this year’s Tour, he took over the mantle as the world’s top sprinter from Cavendish, and will do his utmost to hold onto that crown next season.

He said that the idea of going head to head with the Briton is something which psyches him. “I am really looking forward to it. I have got a lot of motivation from this year,” he said. “I know how it feels and for me it is definitely a big goal to be there again in the front.

“I am very proud of what we achieved as a team in the Tour and what I could show as a sprinter. I am looking forward now to showing it again in the future,” he continued, making clear that he has no intention of basking in old glories.

Kittel knows that while he reached the top this year, in terms of Tour de France sprinting, that it is another matter again to stay there. He’s been identified as the big sprinter now and will have a target on his back next season.

In other words, that 2013 is a starting point, not an arrival. “For me, the Tour this year was a breakthrough with the yellow jersey and four stage wins. I am happy I could show I belong to the top sprinters,” he said, conscious that he needs to keep working hard.

If he’s once again in the same form in 2014, he’ll be in line to clock up more victories.

However he’s a little more guarded about his chances of going for the green jersey competition, perhaps mindful of the fact that he finished back in fourth place this year.

“I need a Tour that suits me, where I do not have too many difficult stages in order to get as many points as possible,” he said, acknowledging that others such as Peter Sagan are more versatile on the lumpier stages. “I don’t know if it will be this year.”

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