The 104th Tour de France is chock full of sprint stages, but so far one rider has dominated by taking four of them. How does a team stay motivated and in the hunt for results when many days seem duplicates of those that came before? General manager José Azevedo doesn’t see this as a problem for the hard-working riders of KATUSHA ALPECIN.
“The team works to win; we don’t ride to be fifth place. If we were to start any stage with the mindset that fifth is good enough, it would be better to not come to the Tour de France. At this Tour de France our goal is to win stages. Today, again, from the beginning of the day we took on our responsibilities – Tiago Machado started to ride and did a great job. We are a very strong team in the final. We bring Alex into the last 300 meters in perfect position. And then when the sprint goes there are four guys that are faster. We still have more stages to try, but so far this same scenario has played out with the same winner each day. Tomorrow is another opportunity and we start again from zero. We cannot say to ourselves that Marcel Kittel is stronger and cannot be beaten,” said Azevedo, referring to the Quick-Step Floors rider who claimed his fourth stage win in Tuesday’s stage 10 from Périgueux to Bergerac at 178k.
Second and third places went to John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Dylan Groenewegen of LottoNL-Jumbo. Team captain Alexander Kristoff was fifth, all on the same time of 4:01:00 (44.315 km/h).
“Our preparation for the sprint today was very good. All of my teammates did an incredible job. Marco brought me into perfect position in the line. He had (Jurgen) Roelandts in front of him and unfortunately he had a bad line into the corner, maybe he even almost crashed, but at a minimum we had to brake a lot. I think this might be the reason we were over-taken so quickly. We accelerated all the way from the corner, but suddenly Kittel and the others came upon us at double our speed and I don’t really know where they got all of that speed. I was ready to start my sprint at this point but they were already passed me,” said Kristoff.
Three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome of Team Sky still leads by 18-seconds. Tomorrow is another sprint stage, with stage 11 beginning in Eymet and ending in Pau at 203.5k.
“We will try again. We need to be positive and motivated. We will try to bring Alex into the right position again and hopefully beat Kittel. You could think maybe the guys grow tired of the same result, but they don’t react this way. They are super professional riders and all of them are super motivated to be at this Tour de France and part of the KATUSHA ALPECIN team. They like riding on this team. Of course when you lose it is disappointing but the morale is high and we have a good loyal group of professionals here. Tomorrow we go again,” said Azevedo.
Photo credit © Tim De Waele