Marcel Kittel missed out on the yellow jersey in Normandy, he lost positioning in Angers, and he seemed to have disappeared today too, but just at the last minute, he and his team arrived to deliver his first stage victory of the Tour de France since 2014. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't on a finish that suited him overly well, but he arrived in Limoges a split second ahead of Bryan Coquard.
Again, it wasn't the most entertaining stage the Tour de France ever put on, but at least we had a breakaway for the majority of the stage, with Oliver Naesen, Markel Irizar, Andreas Schillinger and Alexis Gougeard taking off at the second attempt to form a break. Schillinger took the sprint, Irizar took the mountains, Naesen got the combativity prize, and Gougeard, I dunno, probably got supported by thousands of French fans and nearly as many VDS owners. Schillinger and Gougeard dropped off, and Naesen and Irizar got caught with around seven kilometres to go, on the one kilometre uncategorised climb.
After that, Tinkoff, Lotto and Sky took over on the front for their sprinters and GC riders, until an interesting bit of road furniture caused the peloton to stretch and nearly split, before arriving in Limoges and going onto an easy, straight bit of road, albeit an uphill one. Lotto led into the final kilometre, followed by Sagan, with Etixx-Quickstep nowhere to be seen, until, in what is fast becoming their trademark, they arrived at the front, and Kristoff started off the sprint. Kittel came off his wheel though, and was ahead by a good distance in his sprint until Bryan Coquard gradually inched up alongside him, and finished, well, pretty close to him.
Kittel takes his first win of the race, and moves to within ten points of the green jersey. Nobody anyone would expect to do so lost time.
|Sondre Holst Enger