Before the finish line has crossed his front wheel, reigning Sprint King in the green jersey, Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) raised his hand signalling victory on stage 11 of the Tour de France, in Pau.
Sticking with his winning strategy, Kittel had to weave around a fatigued Bora-Hansgrohe’s Maciej Bodnar from behind, in his approach to the finish line and yet, seized victory ahead of Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) with a clear advantage.
Kittel has now won more stages than any one rider in a single Tour de France since Mark Cavendish’s haul of five back in 2011. Eight is the most that any one rider has won in a single Tour de France, with just three riders achieving that.
“It’s incredible. Sometimes, I think, when you’re on your top level in the sprint it’s like playing Tetris (video game), and I think in the last games I always got the right gaps. I never made a mistake and all lines were perfect.” said a 5-time victorious Kittel.
“It’s incredible. I’m so happy and it’s so nice to give the team a victory. Julien worked today, Philippe Gilbert worked today, and Jack Bauer worked today. They are all champions. They are killing it for me at the moment.” continued the Sprint King.
Bodnar threw in some excitement into a sprinter’s day, winning the Combativity prize of the day when he broke away solo with 23 kilometers remaining and was only caught by the peloton in the last 500m. Some believed he might have even been able to pull off a victory, so close to the line.
Meanwhile, Chris Froome finished safely in the pack, keeping the yellow jersey on his back ahead of the mountain stage today. In the feedzone, rival Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), and Jakob Fulgsang were involved in crashes. Fulgsang continued on despite two small fractures in his arm but his fellow Astana teammate Dario Cataldo had to abandon with a wrist injury.
Watch the highlights here courtesy of Le Tour de France.