SAN DIEGO, July 11, 2013 – No surprise that Stage 12 of the Tour de France turned into a bunch sprint at the finish line today. The surprise was the name of the winner.
Marcel Kittell of Argos-Shimano survived a crash near the finish line that left him battling Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma Quickstep, nipping the Manx Missile at the line by half a wheel length for his third stage win.
Kittel’s stage victory gave Argos-Shimano a bit of revenge for the crash on Stage 10 between Cavendish and Kittel’s teammate Tom Veelers. After the win, Kittel embraced Veelers and thanked him for a brilliant lead-out effort. Kittel said Veelers was in tears at the victory for the team.
Cavendish is the undisputed Jedi Master of sprinting, but the apprentice is starting to show up the master. This will not sit well with Cavendish, and a real professional feud is brewing between the pair and their teams.
Kittel’s German sprint rival Andre Griepel was not in the hunt today. A crash by a Lotto-Belisol rider on the run down to the finish took out all but the top two dozen riders, including Griepel. All of the riders caught up behind the crash will receive the same finish time due to a rule that anyone who crashes within three kilometers of the finish is not penalized on time. But they all lost the chance to compete for the stage win.
It is still unknown whether any riders suffered serious injury. Sky Racing’s Edvald Boasson Hagen crossed the line holding his shoulder; Yukiya Arashiro of Japan had a bloodied left hand at the finish. Gregory Henderson and Jack Bauer both went down hard.
Kittel is a bit too humble for the Tour media’s liking, but he finally expressed his pride in his Tour results so far.
“It’s quite unbelievable. It feels like a dream and it’s something very, very special for me and the whole team,” said Kittel. “The boys did a great job. We stayed really calm today and I cannot say that anyone made a mistake – the sprint preparation was very good and I’m unbelievably proud of how we stick together … Today I was the fastest man in the peloton.
“Koen de Kort was a bit afraid that I might win again because we had a bet that, if I win three stages he has to shave his head. This is going to happen now,” laughed Kittel. “We have three wins already now and I’m so proud of my whole team. It’s difficult to describe it with words.
“I want to finish the Tour de France and that means making it all the way to Paris and now I just have to survive another sprint stage and the Alps. It’s pretty hard there, I’ve heard, but with the race that we’ve done already we can actually relax a little and that gives us a lot of extra motivation,” said Kittel.
Kittel needs to watch out. It’s a lot different winning stages when there is a target on your back, and Mark Cavendish is aiming for it.
No change in the overall standings after today’s stage:
Chris Froome, Sky Racing Team: 42 hours, 29 minutes, 24 seconds
Alejandro Valverde, Movistar, 3 minutes, 25 seconds behind
Bauke Mollema, Belkin, 3 minutes, 37 seconds behind
Alberto Contador, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 3 minutes, 54 seconds behind
Roman Kreuziger, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 3 minutes, 57 seconds behind
Laurens Ten Dam, Belkin, 4 minutes, 10 seconds behind
Michal Kwiatkowski, Omega Pharma Quickstep, 4 minutes, 44 seconds behind
Nairo Qunitana Rojas, Movistar, 5 minutes 18 seconds behind
Michal Kwiatkowski retains the young rider’s white jersey. Pierre Rolland retained the King of the Mountains jersey; Peter Sagan survived the crash and in finishing third he added to his lead in the competition for the sprinters’ green jersey over Andre Griepel. Movistar has the team lead.
Friday’s State 13 takes the peloton closer to its rendezvous with the Alps. The route is not completely flat, with one small Category 4 climb and a dandy little hill at the end. If it’s not a breakaway day, the increasingly personal rivalty between Cavendish and Omega Pharma Quickstep and Kittle and Argos Shimano may play out again at the finish line.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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