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Le Tour Stage 3: Kittel Does What Kittel Does

A finish just down the road from Buckingham Palace saw the coronation of Marcel Kittel, who has won both bunch sprints in this year's Tour de France in dominating style.

Bryn Lennon

With 155 flat kilometers to a finish on the Mall in London, today was always a race for the sprinters. And so, when Bretagne-Séché Environment's Jean-Marie Bideau and NetApp Endura's Jan Barta struck out for solo glory early in the race, nobody gave them much of a chance. Even with the inevitability of a sprint, the duo never got too much of a lead and their gap was under three minutes with fifty kilometers to race. It appeared as if the break started riding easier at that point, hoping to trick the chase into slowing down and saving energy to go truly a bloc in the final thirty kilometers. Twenty kilometers later, it seemed the duo had done just that, quite visibly lifting the pace and finally giving the chase a real reason to ride hard.

As the riders hit the final twenty kilometers, they traveled past Olympic Park, the stadiums and sculptures dwarfing even the huge Tour peloton. A light rain began to fall as the break and then the peloton navigated a series of sharp and occasionally narrow turns, the greasy surface giving a little advantage to the breakaway. But, even with the rain and Jan Barta's substantial time trial engine, the gap dropped from a minute at fourteen kilometers to go to thirty seconds at ten kilometers to go. The chase behind was led by a mixture of GC teams trying to keep their bosses safe and sprinters' teams making sure a bunch gallop would occur.

Up front, Barta began to gap Bideau and, emerging from a long tunnel inside the final eight kilometers he stopped waiting for his companion and pressed on alone some fifteen seconds ahead of the chase. The catch came a kilometer later and the jostling between leadouts in the final five kilometers was fierce. Tony Martin put in a big effort for Omega Pharma - Quickstep at five kilometers to go as Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) pulled an outrigger move to stay upright around a slick right hand bend. Into the final two kilometers it was Giant-Shimano on the front with none other than John Degenkolb putting in a massive effort that no other team seemed to be able to come around. Though Lotto-Belisol looked to have a solid train going for André Greipel and was moving up in the final kilometer, they lost position in two sweeping turns inside the final 800 meters. Up front, Kittel emerged from his final leadout man's draft and went so fast Peter Sagan never tried to come off his wheel, winning by a full bike length once again.

Though there were a few crashes in the finale that split the group, none seemed serious and all were within the final three kilometers so all the GC riders finished on the same time. Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Sagan continue to hold the yellow and green jerseys respectively.

Stage Results:

  1. Marcel Kittel (Giant - Shimano)
  2. Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
  3. Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
  4. Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar)
  5. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
  6. Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing)
  7. Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling)
  8. José Joaquim Rojas (Movistar)
  9. Romain Feillu (Bretagne)
  10. Daniel Oss (BMC)

Overall Classification:

  1. Vincenzo Nibali
  2. Peter Sagan at 2"
  3. Greg Van Avermaet at 2"

Points Classification:

  1. Peter Sagan (117pts)
  2. Marcel Kittel (90pts)
  3. Bryan Coquard (88pts)