Marcel Kittel celebrated his 11th Tour de France stage victory in Troyes, a town which played host to a stage finish for the first time in 17 years. Once again, the closing kilometers were impossible to control by the sprinters’ teams due to the nervousness and fierce battle for positioning, so when it came to crunch time, after a technical and sinuous last kilometer, it was every man for himself in the 400m-long finishing straight.
As the stage approached the final kilometers of a day in which the main difficulty the riders had to deal with was the heat, Quick-Step Floors’ sprinter was brought to the front by a strong lead-out train comprising Jack Bauer, Fabio Sabatini, Zdenek Stybar and Matteo Trentin, who moved to the pointy end of the peloton once the escapees had been reeled in by the fantastic Julien Vermote, who once again put in a gargantuesque effort to keep the escapees in constant check.
Some of the sprinters decided to go from a long way out, once they overcame the chicane and tight roundabout in the final, but not Marcel, who accelerated with 200 meters to go on the left side while all the other contenders were crammed on the right side of the road, and with a perfectly-timed effort scored his second win at the 2017 Tour de France, by a bike length.
“I was really confident in myself today. I talked to the guys and told them we should take the lead with five kilometers to go and defend our position, which they did. That also meant that Fabio Sabatini had to start early and he once again he did a very good job. We can all be proud of this victory”, said Marcel right after crossing the finish line.
“In the sprint, I tried to follow Arnaud Demare, but then I found an opening and could start my sprint one second ahead of the rest, which gave me the chance to pass them on the left side. You know, despite two of the main sprinters being out of the race, it still was very hectic and tense today. A victory doesn’t come easy and I don’t take anything for granted, so to win again gives me a special feeling”, explained Marcel, only the second German rider to reign supreme in Troyes.
Second in the green jersey classification, 27 points behind the leader, the 29-year-old insisted he hasn’t made a goal out of conquering the points rankings: “It’s true that I notched up some important points today, but it’s still a long way to go. In a week we will see how things stand in the classification and will reassess the situation. For the time being, I’m happy and proud to have won 11 stages at the Tour de France.”