Three things in Marcel Kittel’s favor on stage six into Troyes. It was a sprint finish pure and simple. Second, it was a sprint finish without world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data). Three, it was a straight, flat road made for the big German to wind up the turbo.
Thanks to all those factors, and the most massive thighs in the peloton, Kittel notched his second win in the Tour de France. It looked textbook easy and only green jersey Andre Demare (FDJ) had a shot after squeezing through a hole as small as Cavendish tried to punch through on stage four. Demare has officially won the Crazy Cowboy award in Le Grand Shindig when we thought that was surely Nacer Bouhanni’s to win.
While everyone else did the argy-bargy on the right side of the road, Kittle had a clear run up the left with nobody to get in his way. “The last kilometer was a little bit freestyle but I had a good wheel, first from Arnaud Démare, and then I had to go at 250 to the front,” Kittel said. “It went perfect. I could start from a great position, a little behind, to see where my rivals were going.”
His rivals Demare finished second, having snuck through a micro gap next to the barriers, and Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) managed third. It was yet another messy sprint despite the wide road and John Degenkolb was extremely diplomatic when he said of Demare — “He actually moved off his line and went through a very, very small gap there.” Degenkold has a career in politics with that kind of quote but everybody could see Demare is taking insane risks.
The fact is that despite the expulsion of world champion Peters Sagan and the painful exit of Mark Cavendish, the UCI jury’s message about play-nice sprinting fell on deaf ears. Both Bouhanni and Demare’s lead-out man Jacopo Guarnieri took shots at each other in the press. In fact, Guarnieri got all anatomical, calling Nacer a dick — which is not a wise thing to tell somebody whose spare time hobby is boxing.
Kittel, on the other hand, took the high road and the fastest road. He doubled up in Troyes with perhaps more to come.