A fifth place finish in stage 4’s group sprint wasn’t quite what Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’s Marcel Kittel was aiming for today, but the German rider still sees possibilities and many more chances for victory in the 105th Tour de France.
“If you give up trying, you can go home. The Tour is three weeks long and there are riders who have gone for three weeks and then won at the end on the Champs-Élysées. It’s still a long race with more chances on the way to Paris. I want to take those chances,” said Marcel Kittel.
A last minute catch of the breakaway with only 1k to go created plenty of chaos on the finish line in Sarzeau, but Quick-Step’s Fernando Gaviria timed it right again and claimed his second stage victory in this year’s race. He edged out Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) and André Greipel of Lotto Soudal. Kittel charged in for fifth place, all on the same time of 4:25:01 (44.15 km/h) for the 195k stage which began in La Baule.
“Obviously Quick-Step is very strong and they are the team to beat. I think the stages are just a little messy, like they were last year. I wanted to get out, took full risk again and I went through the peloton where I saw Quintana in front of me at 600 meters, and other guys who were blocking the road. That’s why I couldn’t find my way forward but this wasn’t just a problem for me, it was for other riders too. But that’s just the Tour. I will keep working and trying,” promised Kittel.
A late stage crash held up a number of riders, including Team leader Ilnur Zakarin who lost 59-seconds. It was a disappointing early result for the Russian GC-hopeful who is now down 1:51 to race leader Greg Van Avermaet of BMC. Zakarin will have to be aggressive in future stages in hopes of gaining back lost time.
The race moves north tomorrow for another road stage. Wednesday’s stage 5 is a lumpy one with 5 rated climbs on the 204.5k stage from Lorient to Quimper.
Photos © Justin Setterfield and Tim de Waele/Gettysport