Tour de France 2014: Marcel Kittel waiting to capture Manx Missile’s sprint crown - Cycling - Sport - The Independent

Tour de France 2014: Marcel Kittel waiting to capture Manx Missile’s sprint crown

 

leeds

When Marcel Kittel took part in the Giro d’Italia in Northern Ireland this May, the Belfast Telegraph namechecked the Giant-Shimano rider as “one of the top 10 things to watch out for in the race”. The Telegraph reasoned the 26-year-old sprinter’s handsome blond looks were sure to cause heads to turn – but  as it happened, Kittel did not need to rely on them to be the centre of attention.

The German won both opening road stages in the Giro, in Dublin and Belfast, in blistering style. And in Saturday’s forthcoming Tour de France’s first stage in Harrogate, if Mark Cavendish is the top local favourite, Kittel will be bearing the mantle of the sprinter to beat - for Cavendish and the rest of the field.

It wasn’t just that last year Kittel won the equivalent stage of the Tour de France, in Corsica. The German then took another three bunch sprints, beating Cavendish each time, including on the Champs-Elysées, where Cavendish’s unbroken run of wins had stretched back to 2009.

So is Kittel’s 2014 season “all about Harrogate” - as Cavendish said this February that his year was going to be?

“Cav’s situation is a bit different,” Kittel tells The Independent recently as he sits sipping a coffee in the Sierra Nevada ski station near Granada – where he is altitude training for the Tour.

“It’s the Tour de France in his home country and the first stage ends near where his mum used to live, it’s a special place for him.

“For me, it is a goal. But I’ve also ridden over the first stage route and I don’t think it’ll automatically end in a bunch sprint. As a team, we are ready for all kinds of outcomes in that stage, not just me going for it.”

Should the front group split on the Yorkshire hills, as Kittel believes is very possible, with the “pure” sprinters like Cavendish getting left behind, Giant-Shimano will be ready to work for John Degenkolb – a fast rider, but more of an all-rounder than either the Briton or Kittel.

“The only thing we can be certain about that first stage is that nothing is certain, the second [York-Sheffield] is a day for the GC [general classification] racers, and the third, into London, is the most likely to end in a bunch sprint.”

As Kittel points out, the first two thirds of stage one “are really not easy, with the climbs and small roads, it’s very exposed, too. The last 50 kilometres are more simple, but the final has a lot of undulating roads. If they race very hard, it will be tricky to see a bunch sprint come about.”

One similarity between Cavendish and Kittel off the bike is that both are not afraid to speak their mind. Kittel, for one, is critical of the roads the Tour organisers have chosen to use in stages one and two, saying: “They are dangerous, really narrow.

“Think about it. There will be a really nervous peloton, everyone is fresh and wants to win that opening stage.

“When we get to the narrow roads, the problem is the stone walls,”  – on either side of many of Yorkshire’s rural routes. “If everybody is fighting to be on the front, [with the walls] you can’t go left or right,” – or in the case of crashes – “there is nowhere to avoid them. That’s not good for the peloton’s safety, it would have been wiser to choose other routes.”

Like Cavendish, too, Kittel is very modest about his initial Tour targets, saying  – as Cavendish invariably does – “if I win one stage this year, and finish the race, I’ll be happy. Riders’ careers can be made around winning just one Tour stage. It’s that difficult to do.”

And if he can take his one stage of the race in Harrogate, then Kittel will be making heads turn yet again from day one of the Tour.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week