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by Shane Stokes
July 20, 2014
Marcel Kittel was in survival mode during the mountains but is ready to seize the opportunity to notch up what would be his fourth stage win of this year’s Tour and eighth career victory in the race. The Giant-Shimano rider said on Saturday that he considered there were two chances left for a big bunch gallop in the race, and that he hoped to be in the mix for both.
Kittel took four stages in last year’s Tour and is on the cusp of repeating that again. This year he won stages one, three and four, showing once more that in a flat out mass finish, he is the quickest in the peloton.
Providing the sprinters’ teams can control the upcoming stage, the group should arrive together at the line and fight it out at the finish in Nîmes.
“Obviously tomorrow is flat and it should be a good stage for a sprint,” he told CyclingTips minutes after he finished Saturday’s mountain stage to Risoul. “We normally will have our plan for that. I think there are two opportunities left, that stage and also Paris. Not so much for us.”
Kittel crashed during Friday’s stage and was rumoured to be touch and go about continuing in the race. He looked absolutely fine before Saturday’s race, though, and confirmed that there was nothing serious. “The crash was not too bad. I am alright. I have no big injuries or anything. It’s no problem.”
He admitted to be slightly worried about the stage to Risoul, saying that he was hoping he would be able to make it through. As things turned out it was an easier day than he expected, and he’ll hope that will translate into good legs on sage fourteen.
“I actually felt pretty good. It was a good start with the controlled pace after the first climb to the long one,” he said. “Then from there I was in a good grupetto. It was good for me and also for the other sprinters.”
In addition to his three stage victories in this year’s Tour, Kittel also picked up two in the Giro d’Italia.