VILLARS-LES-DOMBES, France (CT) – Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) will remain the victor of stage 14 of the 2016 Tour de France after the race jury dismissed Marcel Kittel’s claims of an irregular sprint.
Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) was forced to brake in the stage-ending bunch kick as Cavendish moved into Kittel’s path, the German throwing his hand in the air in protest as Cavendish crossed the line.
— Le Tour de France (@LeTour) July 16, 2016
Speaking minutes after the stage, Kittel said his sprint had been interfered with.
“I started my sprint super fast with 220 metres to go, the train worked well,” Kittel said. “I was in the inside; I was well positioned. I saw Cavendish passing me and just before the line he swerved to the right and I needed to brake to avoid collision.
“That move definitely influenced the result of today’s stage, but it’s not up to me to decide on this matter. I’m just disappointed of the outcome, because I had good sprinting legs.”
Good job by my boys in the final today! We were there in the right moment. In the end I have to be happy with place 5 & that I didn't crash.
— Marcel Kittel (@marcelkittel) July 16, 2016
Dimension Data sports director Roger Hammond defended the actions of Cavendish in the final sprint, saying the incident might have looked worse on the bike than on the replay.
“I’m pretty sure when he [Marcel Kittel] calms down in five minutes and has a look at the screen he’ll probably think that probably wasn’t as bad as it looked to him on the bike,” Hammond said at his team bus. “And that’s the other thing — sometimes things look a lot different from your perspective.
“Everything feels faster and closer and more aggressive when you’re on the bike and then when you watch it actually from TV it looks completely different.”
The race jury confirmed after the stage that the initial result would stand, giving Cavendish his fourth stage win of this year’s Tour and the fifth victory for his Dimension Data team.
In his post-race press conference Cavendish said he hadn’t been aware of Kittel’s frustrated gesture.
“I didn’t see it, I was in front of him,” he said. “The first I knew about it was when I was waiting to do the podium and it was just taking a while. Obviously there was a coming together [in the sprint] but if you look at him next to the barriers, I think it is him who comes off the barriers more than anything.
“He hit me on the back [after crossing the line] but I thought he was just saying well done.”