Mar­cel Kit­tel coy over yel­low jersey chances

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LIEGE: Mar­cel Kit­tel ad­mit­ted he doesn’t feel con­fi­dent about his yel­low jersey chances ahead of yes­ter­day’s lumpy third stage in the Tour de France from Verviers to Longwy. The big Ger­man moved up to third in the over­all stand­ings with vic­tory in Sun­day’s sec­ond stage, thanks to the 10-sec­ond time bonus he claimed on the line. If he man­ages to keep up with the lead­ers yes­ter­day’s up­hill fin­ish at the end of the 212.5 kilo­me­tre third stage, he would then have an­other flat stage to­day likely to fin­ish in a bunch sprint.

He’s just six sec­onds off race leader Geraint Thomas, with time bonuses of 10sec, 6sec and 4sec on the line for the top three fin­ish­ers each day. But Kit­tel isn’t count­ing his chick­ens.

“I think this is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult... be­cause the fin­ish is quite dif­fi­cult,” said the Ger­man. “It’s sim­i­lar to the sec­ond stage last year (in which the pure sprint­ers were dropped). “I will see, I don’t know. It’s hard for me now here to say.”

Kit­tel stressed, though, that the yel­low jersey was not his pri­or­ity, with

his Quick-Step team look­ing for stage vic­to­ries and him per­son­ally hav­ing an eye on claim­ing the green points jer­seyalthough there is the not so small mat­ter of try­ing to beat five-time winner and world cham­pion Peter Sa­gan in that cat­e­gory. The course looks very much like one of the Ar­dennes one-day clas­sics, par­tic­u­larly with the short 1.4 km climb to the fin­ish with an av­er­age gra­di­ent of 5.8 per- cent, peak­ing at 11 per­cent in one sec­tion. That should be enough to en­sure that the pure sprint­ers have been dropped be­fore the line, al­though the bumpy na­ture of the course, with five cat­e­gorised climbs, might have shed some of them long be­fore the finale.

It’s the kind of course that should have Sa­gan and Olympic cham­pion Greg van Aver­maet lick­ing their lips.

But plenty of oth­ers will also be ey­ing a stage vic­tory, not least the Ar­dennes Clas­sics spe­cial­ists such as Aus­tralian Michael Matthews, Ire­land’s Dan Martin and Bel­gium’s Philippe Gil­bert.

The over­all con­tenders will also likely be keen to keep near the front as there is a chance for small time gaps to ap­pear by the line. If Thomas strug­gles at the fin­ish, which is un­likely, the yel­low jersey could come into play, al­though his Sky team­mate Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland or team leader Chris Froome are two of the best placed rid­ers to cap­i­talise. —AFP

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