Chasing Le Tour: Kittel makes it a hat-trick

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As far as Tour de France stages go, today’s 12th stage of the 100th edition was about as straightforward and predictable as they come … aside from the crash at the end which wouldn’t have changed the result.

A small group got away from the peloton in the opening kilometres, the sprinters’ teams eventually brought back that break, and then the sprinters battled it out for the win.

What we mightn’t have predicted is that after 12 stages of the 2013 Tour de France Marcel Kittel now has three stage victories to his name.

Greg Henderson told us the other day that Greipel, Cavendish and Kittel are all just as fast as each other and it comes down to who jumps first. However, the past two sprint stages we’ve seen the contrary.

On stage 10 Greipel jumped first and Kittel came around him at the last moment (but Greipel stated that he lost speed because of some confusion about the finish). Today, Cavendish kicked first and Kittel was able to inch him out for the win. Have we ever seen anyone come around Cav before?


Of Kittel’s three wins so far, today’s was arguably his most impressive. When he won on stage 1, Cavendish, Greipel and Sagan weren’t contesting the sprint due to a crash in the closing kilometres. When Kittel won on stage 10, Cavendish was out of position, having had to go around (or should that be “through”) Tom Veelers to contest the sprint. But today Kittel beat Cavendish with pure speed and power, passing him convincingly in the closing metres.

German riders have now won five stages of this year’s Tour — three by Kittel, one by Greipel and one by Tony Martin. It’s the most stages the nation’s ever won at one edition of the Tour de France, and it’s prompted calls for live, free-to-air coverage of the Tour to be reinstated in Germany.

And here’s a statistic for you. This year is the first year since 1926 that a French, Italian or Spanish rider hasn’t won one of the first 12 stages of the Tour de France. More worringly for the French, there are only nine stages to go and if there are no French winners at all this year, it will be only the third time that’s happened in the race’s 100 editions as far as we can tell. (The other two times were 1926 and 1999).

There are two small bumps in tomorrow’s stage 13 from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond but it’s almost certainly going to end in another bunch sprint. Until then, thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out our photos from today’s stage and the story they tell.

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