Kit­tel eases to Tour stage vic­tory

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - AN­DREW DAMPF AND JOHN LEICES­TER

TROYES, FRANCE — Mar­cel Kit­tel had lit­tle trou­ble win­ning the sixth stage of the Tour de France in a mass sprint fin­ish Thurs­day with Peter Sa­gan and Mark Cavendish both no longer in the cy­cling race.

Chris Froome held on to the leader’s yel­low jersey af­ter a sul­try but un­event­ful day in the pelo­ton.

It was Kit­tel’s sec­ond vic­tory in this year’s race and 11th over­all in his Tour ca­reer.

As the other con­tenders bunched to­gether on the right side of the road, Kit­tel burst for­ward around them on the left and eas­ily cre­ated a com­fort­able gap al­low­ing him to cel­e­brate as he crossed the line.

“I was re­ally con­fi­dent in my team,” Kit­tel said. “I was also re­ally con­fi­dent in my­self to­day. There was just a mo­ment when I broke free and started to go ahead.”

Stage 4 win­ner Ar­naud De­mare fin­ished sec­ond and An­dre Greipel was third.

Sa­gan, the world cham­pion, was dis­qual­i­fied for el­bow­ing Cavendish to the ground two days ago. The fall re­sulted in Cavendish, who has 30 Tour wins, aban­don­ing the race with a bro­ken shoul­der.

Kit­tel said the ab­sence of Cavendish and Sa­gan has al­tered the rac­ing in that their teams are no longer bat­tling out the sprint fin­ishes.

He was re­peat­edly asked af­ter his win about their ab­sence.

“It’s a bit sad that it’s all about this de­ci­sion,” he said. “The level that we have here for the sprints is still very, very high.”

Kit­tel needed more than five hours to ride the mostly flat 216-kilo­me­tre leg from Ve­soul to Troyes, and then bent down over his han­dle­bars, close to tears, as he took in the vic­tory.

The Tour re­mains in Troyes for the start of Stage 7 on Fri­day, a 213.5-kilo­me­tre leg that again sets up well for sprint­ers.

CHRIS GRAYTHEN, GETTY IM­AGES

Mar­cel Kit­tel cel­e­brates win­ning stage six of the 2017 Le Tour de France, a 216-kilo­me­tre road race from Troyes to to Ve­soul.

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