Kittel wins Stage 10; Froome keeps lead
BERGERAC, FRANCE» Marcel Kittel has no serious challenger for the King of the Sprint title at this year’s Tour de France.
The German sprinter won the 10th stage with remarkable ease on Tuesday, while Chris Froome stayed safely in the main pack to retain the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Kittel perfectly timed his effort in the final straight to post his fourth stage win since the start of the race, crossing the line ahead of fellow German John Degenkolb.
The stage took the peloton on a flat, 178kilometer (111-mile) run from Perigueux to Bergerac in southwestern France.
Froome, the three-time Tour champion, will be wear the yellow jersey for the 50th time on Wednesday — joining five-time Tour winner Jacques Anquetil in fourth place on the all-time list behind Eddy Merckx (96), Bernard Hinault (75), and Miguel Indurain (60).
“A huge, huge honor,” the British rider said of the 50 days in yellow.
Kittel was in 10th place after negotiating the two sharp corners of a challenging final kilometer, before turning on the power to surge ahead of his rivals with 150 meters left and securing his 13th career win on the Tour.
He won by a bike’s length and had plenty of time to raise his arms in celebration before crossing the line.
Kittel said his confidence is high after his string of victories.
“I know now from the last sprints that I can hold that speed to the finish line,” he said. “I almost cannot believe what’s happening here at the Tour.”
Dutch rider Dylan Groenewegen completed the podium in the medieval town.
With Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan and Arnaud Demare out of the race, Kittel strengthened his grip on the best sprinter’s green jersey. French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, who had to settle for a sixth-place finish, acknowledged Kittel’s superiority.
“Kittel was the strongest, he came from behind,” Bouhanni said. “He won four sprints out of five, he is the best sprinter of this Tour.”