Kit­tel wins Tour leg as cycling bounces back in Germany

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - AN­DREW DAMPF

LIEGE, BEL­GIUM — The thriving cur­rent state of Ger­man cycling stood out in sharp con­trast to the sport’s dirty past dur­ing the sec­ond stage of the Tour de France on Sun­day.

As Mar­cel Kit­tel rode to­ward a com­mand­ing sprint vic­tory to con­clude a leg that be­gan be­fore large crowds in Dusseldorf, Germany, dis­graced 1997 cham­pion Jan Ull­rich stood by the road as an un­in­vited spec­ta­tor.

“It makes me re­ally, re­ally proud to see that this sport is now well ac­cepted again in my home coun­try,” Kit­tel said.

“There was def­i­nitely a time where not so many spec­ta­tors were stand­ing next to the road. And those who were there were show­ing signs with EPO sy­ringes or other (stuff ).”

With­out any teammates in the fi­nal 500 me­tres of a mostly flat stage con­clud­ing in Liege, Kit­tel wisely stayed on his ri­vals’ wheels be­fore burst­ing ahead at the fi­nal mo­ment for his 10th ca­reer stage win in the Tour.

Mean­while, three-time cham­pion Chris Froome had to work hard to catch up with the main pack af­ter fall­ing to the pave­ment amid a mass crash on a wet cor­ner.

Froome’s Sky team­mate Geraint Thomas held on to the leader’s yel­low jersey.

Froome was near the front of the pelo­ton when a Ka­tusha rider ahead of him lost con­trol com­ing around a sharp turn with about 30 kilo­me­tres to go.

Froome’s shorts and sev­eral lay­ers of skin were torn and he had to change bikes as three teammates paced him back to the pelo­ton.

“I have no in­juries thank­fully. I’ve just lost a lit­tle bit of skin on my back­side,” Froome said.

Ull­rich was sus­pended in 2006 in the fall­out from the Op­er­a­tion Puerto blood-dop­ing scan­dal in Spain and he re­tired a year later.

There were also scan­dals in­volv­ing prom­i­nent Ger­man rid­ers like Patrick Sinke­witz and Ste­fan Schu­macher.

The Tour re­mains in Bel­gium for the start of Stage 3 on Mon­day, a 212.5-kilo­me­tre leg from Verviers to Longwy, France.

CHRIS GRAYTHEN, GETTY IMAGES

Mar­cel Kit­tel of Germany and Quick-Step Floors cel­e­brates on the podium af­ter tak­ing the points jersey and win­ning stage two of the 2017 Tour de France on Sun­day.

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