Rider of the Race
Marvellous Marcel may well be the dominant sprinter at this Tour, but he has not yet been named as our rider of the race. I think it’s time to rectify that. Of course, this accolade is not awarded lightly. Even four victories and surpassing Erik Zabel‘s record for most wins by a German at the Tour de France (he has 13 now) does not guarantee the title.
I could make an excellent argument for his technical prowess today. Just as we’ve seen him do before, he managed without a conventional sprint train in the finale. Surfing the wheels to get close enough, keeping his momentum to catch Dan McLay (Fortuneo-Oscaro) as he opened his sprint with 350m to go and then igniting the blue touchpaper. It’s pure power that gets him to the line.
All perfectly valid reasons I’m sure we all agree. But for me, what really clinched it was the moment he said this in his post race interview – He’s A JOY!
He explained further..
I won now so many stages in the Tour. I never expected it when I was starting my career. I never really expected to be even in the Tour. I was hoping maybe at one point to become a professional, but that I would be at this level with these wins, it’s hard for me to imagine.
It’s good to see him back at the top of his game and brimming with confidence He’s got 13 #TDF victories in total now and who knows how many more by the time we reach Paris?
More post-race gems
Lotto-Soudal nailed their sprint train today. Lars Bak and Adam Hansen gained control in the final kilometres and would not surrender the front. They produced peel-off perfection as they hit the finale, but sadly Andre Greipel could not capitalise. His tweet exudes the class that make him a VeloVoices favourite. [He certainly is! – ed]
Speaking of VeloVoices favourites: How brilliant to see The Mighty Degs™ and wing-man Koen de Kort at the pointy end of the sprint again after his crash. #LOVE
When I was going into the last kilometre, I thought actually that the sprint is already over, but then a small miracle happened that Marcel overtook me on the right side and I could get on his wheel. I had to do a full sprint to just stay in his slipstream, but that gave me the opportunity to get second in the end.
And finally from the man who played lead out for the stage winner…
Starring role in our Best Men’s Race Finish 2016 award Dan McLay and his Fortuneo-Oscaro team have to fight for every inch of road in these sprint showdowns. You just know they’re going to keep trying.
Fortuneo-Oscaro also featured in the break of day, this time with youngest rider in the race, 22-year-old Elie Gesbert.
The young Frenchman spared Yoann Offredo (Wanty Groupe Gobert) from a day alone at the front and was rewarded with a trip to the podium for the most combative rider award. Monsieur Gesbert also made the headlines for quite different reasons during the rest day, when he managed to set the fire alarm off in his hotel by leaving a towel to dry (Cycling Weekly report here).
Top 5 stage
1 Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) 4:01:00
2 John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) same time
3 Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) s/t
4 Rudiger Selig (BORA-Hansgrohe) s/t
5 Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) s/t
Top 5 GC
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 42:27:28
2 Fabio Aru (Astana) +0:18
3 Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) +0:51
4 Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) +0:55
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) +1:37
All the jerseys
Leader: Chris Froome (Sky)
Points: Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors)
KOM: Warren Barguil (Sunweb)
Best Young Rider: Simon Yates (ORICA-Scott)
Team Classification: Sky
Most Aggressive Rider: Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro)
Header image: Marcel Kittel © LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images