Kittel Earns Second Stage Win in Tour de France
Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) has taken his second stage of the 2014 Tour de France. The German won a bunch sprint to take the rolling, 155-km run from Cambridge to London in 3:38:30. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) settled for his third consecutive second place, and Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took third. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) remains the maillot jaune.
The hostilities began early. As soon as the peloton cleared the neutral zone, Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) jumped clear and Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) joined him. The pair led the field by 4:15 at 33 km. Astana rode tempo, and then Lotto-Belisol took over from the Kazakh squad. Giant-Shimano also took turns at the front.
After the intermediate sprint with 47 km remaining, the peloton accelerated. It cut the break’s advantage to about a minute, and even though the escapees ran their lead back up to two minutes with 30 km to go, it was obvious that Bideau and Barta were dead men riding.
One km later, Andy Schleck (Trek) and Ted King (Cannondale) hit the deck in a crash that involved a spectator. Both riders remounted and finished the stage.
Rain began to fall. With 20 km left, the bunch was 1:31 behind the break. The peloton caught Bideau first. It reeled in Barta with six km to go.
Tony Martin paced the peloton for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, but Giant-Shimano took over at the front. With 200 m to go, Kittel lunged into the lead. Sagan had the Giant-Shimano man’s wheel, but he could not overtake the German.
Giant-Shimano made winning look easy today, but the rain complicated matters. “The rain made things tricky in the final stages,” Kittel said, “and it was difficult to stay in front, so it was important that we kept the sprint formation together. We did this, and it worked out perfectly.”
In the overall, Nibali leads Sagan and Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) by 0:02. Tomorrow, the Tour will return to its home country with Stage 4. The rolling, 163.5-km ride from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille will be another stage that is tailor made for sprinters. Will Kittel win again? Will Sagan break through? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!