Tour de France 2017: Marcel Kittel continues dominance on sprints by winning eleventh stage

Pau: Marcel Kittel said winning sprint finishes at the Tour de France was like playing tetris as he claimed a fifth stage success in 2017.

The 29-year-old German was at his imperious best in winning a fifth sprint finish out of six, once again making it look easy.

And the Quick-Step sprinter said finding his line to the finish was like playing a computer game.

Germany's Marcel Kittel, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, celebrates on the podium after the eleventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 203.5 kilometers (126.5 miles) with start in Eymet and finish in Pau, France, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Germany's Marcel Kittel, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, after the eleventh stage of the Tour de France. AP

"You know, sometimes when you're on your top level in the sprints, it's like playing tetris," he said.

"I'm very proud of this performance, it's amazing, it's going so well. The team is very well organised, I feel good and I'm always finding my route to the line.

"Five stage wins, that's remarkable at the Tour de France."

Having won back-to-back stages for the second time in this Tour, Kittel will have a couple of days out of the limelight in the Pyrenees now, as race leader Chris Froome and his rivals take centre stage.

Kittel, who has 14 stage wins in total since 2013, increased his lead in the green jersey competition to 133 points over Australian Michael Matthews and said he is now hoping to hold onto the jersey all the way to Paris.

"Of course, this doesn't come for free, it's hard work and to defend it over three weeks for me is a new experience.

"I'm looking forward to it."

Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen took second with Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway third in the sprint finish but there was agony for Poland's Maciej Bodnar who spent more than 200 kilometres in a breakaway, only to be caught with 300 metres to ride.


For Bodnar it was the second year in a row he'd come close to victory on the 11th stage.

'So close' 

Last year he was part of a late four-man breakaway alongside Froome and world champion Peter Sagan but was beaten to the line by both of those.

"It was so close, I'm a little bit disappointed, but what can I say," Bodnar, who revealed his father had died two months ago, said.

"Like last year, it was so close.

"I can be happy, maybe we can try in other stages, why not?"


Bodnar was part of a three-man breakaway from the gun of the 203.5 kilometres stage from Eymet to Pau alongside Italian Marco Marcato and Frederik Backaert of Belgium.

"When I saw one time with 3 kilometres to go, the bunch was still 200 metres (back), I was thinking I could still do it," he added.

"But the last 400 metres was really, really hard for me, and the bunch was going really fast.

"That was that. I think 10 seconds more then we could celebrate something nice."

Froome maintained his 18-second lead over Italy's Fabio Aru with Frenchman Romain Bardet third at 51sec.

And from Thursday, the yellow jersey battle will resume in the mountains with back-to-back Pyrenean stages.

Briton Froome said his Sky team will be wary of rivals attacking from distance, particularly the likes of Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador, who have already lost significant time and sit more than two and five minutes respectively off the lead.

"The number one priority for us is not to allow anyone to come back into the GC (overall) game -- someone who's already lost time.

"For me personally, I've got to keep a close eye on Fabio Aru, it's only 18 seconds -- I'm going to have to stick to him like glue tomorrow."

But Quintana, amongst others, is planning to make a move.

"If I'm strong, I'll attack. We'll see," he said.

Contador, meanwhile, crashed twice on Wednesday, taking to four his total number of spills in the race.

He's been nursing injuries since Sunday but said anyone questioning whether he would go on is barking up the wrong tree.

"It's true that this Tour is pushing me to my psychological limits but I'm telling you, if people think I'm going to give up it's because they don't know me."


Published Date: Jul 13, 2017 07:29 am | Updated Date: Jul 13, 2017 07:29 am



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