Argos-Shimano sprinter Marcel Kittel capped off an excellent Tour de France with a win in the most prestigious sprint in cycling, the finish of the Tour on the Champs Elysées in Paris.
Kittel’s team took control of the race rounding the final tuen, displacing Mark Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-Quickstep squad. Cavendsih, who had won the last four sprints on the Champs Elysées, was forced to follow Lotto-Beklisol’s André Greipel, who was on Kittel’s wheel coming into the last few hundred meters.
Kittel’s last leadout rider pulled off and Kittel started his sprint; Greipel tried hard to come by on the left but failed by half a bike-length. Cavendish, forced to come from third, managed to almost pass Greipel on the line but he hit a cobblestone in the last few feet, bouncing the back of his bike six inches in the air. Cavendish finished third by about an inch.
Kittel told NBC Sports that the finish was “unbelievably fast.”
“We passed the bunch on the left side we just got in front before the last corner at around 600 meters and from there on we did the leadout. Our team was the strongest and I could start my sprint at 250 meters,” he explained.
“I started my sprint at 250 meters and I pushed one million watts, I think. At that moment I just gave it everything and in the end, it was enough,” he told Eurosport.
For Kittel and Argos-Shimano, the 100th Tour was a series of tremendous successes. The team came to the Tour hoping for a stage win, and possibly a win in the first stage in Corsica which would give them the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Kittel ended up winning four stages, twice beating the former King of the Sprint, Mark Cavendish, in a heads-up contest.
“The goal was to win a stage. I surprised myself and the whole team surprised everyone that we won in the end four stages, and got the yellow jersey. Those were goals we had, and it was great for us. We showed that we were able to do that,” Kittel told NBC Sports.
Froome Wins GC
Sky’s Chris Froome rolled home arm-in-arm with his team mates, taking the General Classification win as expected. Sky’s team leader finished more than four minutes ahead of his nearest rival after 3400 km of racing over 23 days.
Froome won the Tour on the strength of his legs as much as the strength of his team. Froome won three stages with huge individual efforts—two mountain stages and the mountain time trial—while his Sky team was strong enough to keep him in the lead through the rest of the race.
The revelation of the race was the performance of Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, who finished second in his first Tour de France. Quintana, only 23, won the best Young Riders and the King of the Mountains classifications as well as finishing second in GC.
Quintana also won stage 20, one of the toughest stages of the race, beating Chris Froome and third-place finisher Joachim Rodriguez of Katusha on the leg-breaking final climb of the Tour to secure his podium position.