Stage 11 in the 104th Tour de France offered another opportunity for the sprinters to shine in the spotlight before taking on the Pyrenees mountains starting tomorrow, but once again the sprint victory went to Marcel Kittel while the others could merely look on in disappointment. For Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’S team leader Alexander Kristoff, it was a bitter loss as he failed to even launch his sprint on a day that started with promise and optimism.
Originally arriving at the team bus too disappointed to speak with the media, Alexander Kristoff later said: “At some 4km from the finish we were boxed in at a corner. The others passed us at 50 k/h while we were riding at only 10 k/h. Then we started again and were moving up, but we never were able to make our way to the front again. I am very disappointed.”
Media surrounded the team bus after the stage and it was general manager José Azevedo who fielded questions concerning what could be going wrong in the many field sprints that have been available in this year’s Tour, namely if contract negotiations or lack of support have played into the results.
José Azevedo: “Our faith in Alex is still there and has been every day. It would be impossible to give more support that we have in the flat stages. But we need to admit that Kittel is stronger than all other sprinters this year. It’s just a difference of small details every day.”
Today’s 203.5k stage began in Eymet and ended in Pau. Kittel’s win, his fifth in this Tour, produced a winning time of 4:34:27 (44.489 km/h). Chris Froome of Team Sky still wears yellow by 18-seconds.
Tomorrow’s stage 12 takes on the high mountains. At 214.5k it begins in Pau and ends uphill in Peyragudes. There are 6 rated climbs along the route.
Azevedo concluded: “I expect no more sprint stages before Paris but our team is not finished yet. We came here to win a stage and from now on we will send riders in the breaks in order to try to accomplish that goal.”
Photo credit © Tim De Waele