WH AT ’ S U P W I TH MAR C EL?
M arcel Kittel had a very strong 2017. He won at least a race every month up to and including the Tour, then took out five stages in the first 11 days. His total of Tour stage wins is 14, and he’s just turned 30. However, he had a very quiet final third to 2017, followed by a transfer to KatushaAlpecin which has so far not borne fruit. The team has struggled to make an impression, with only three wins as we went to press, the joint-lowest in the WorldTour. And they have the smallest number of top-three finishes in total, with nine. Kittel was anonymous in his latest outing, at the Tour of California, with fourth his best finish.When Kittel is strong, confident and the finish straightforward, he is probably the most intimidating and effective sprinter in the world. But he doesn’t love the rough-andtumble of a tactical finish, and if his confidence is low, he can’t sprint his way out of it. Stage 1 of the Tour is maybe more important for him than any other sprinter.