Marcel Kittel won stage 12 in a man-to-man fight with Mark Cavendish. It’s the third sprint victory of the German rider from the Dutch team Argos-Shimano.
As expected stage 12 from Fougères to Tours ended in a mass sprint. What was not expected was that Marcel Kittel took the win. The final kilometer was a difficult one, with two 90 degrees curves, and most people bet their chances on Mark Cavendish.
The train of Omega Pharma-QuickStep seemed doing the job pretty well and Cavendish was launched as good as it can be. When he passed Kittel, Kittel didn’t hesitate one second, took the wheel of Cavendish and powered himself in a true sprint to the finish line.
Tom Veelers, usually the last man in the ‘lead-out’ for Kittel, was not present in the train. The injuries from the crash on the stage on Tuesday, when he smacked the asphalt with 65 km/hr, were breaking him up during stage 12. After 80 km he told his team mate Roy Curvers that he would not be able to pull the train. But the team reorganized the train and Kittel won. Kittel dedicated the victory to Tom Veelers who arrived in Tours in tears.
“Kittel is the new sprint superstar,” said Mark Cavendish who normally is seen as the fastest man on a bike. “He won three stages now and I can tell you that is not an easy job.”
Greipel was caught in an accident just 100 meters before the finish and lost the chance the join the fight with Sagan (3rd), Cavendish and Kittel. Since two of his lead men were injured badly in the incident, Greipel can forget another stage win in stage 13.
Stage 13 is another sprinter event, everybody assumes. Todays’ stage is an easy 173km from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond. The contenders for the general classification don’t mind all the attention for the sprinters. All they care about is that they can start on Sunday without injuries and in good condition when the Tour enters the Alps.
With Froome more than 3 minutes ahead of his rivals he can expect attacks from Valverde. Mollema and Contador. On the otherhand, he showed great shape in the TT and he might deal the first blow by himself.