Bastia, Corsica – In what should have been a relatively predictable 213k opening stage stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France, the sport of bike racing again demonstrated that the only thing that can be counted on in cycling is unpredictability.
The pancake-flat stage was expected to end in a sprint finish and until about 20 minutes to go, with the speed dialed-up and all the sprint trains getting positioned at the front, a situation at the finish line seemed destined to change the outcome. As all of the team support vehicles were being cleared from the finish area, the Orica-GreenEdge team bus got stuck under the finish line scaffolding. After 10 or so minutes of not being able to move it and with the peloton baring down hard less then 10 minutes from the finish, the organizers made the decision to move the finish to the 3k mark. The tone got hectic, some teams got the word and some didn’t, and above all, the 3k point had a narrow chicane in the road–clearly there was no way the finish could possibly be there.
Then, in one move a big crash took down almost half the group just as the bus was being wedged free at the finish line. Fortunately for Argos-Shimano they were well positioned in the front and avoided the high-speed crash. The finish was back to being the finish (even though some teams never got the word it had been moved the 3k mark), and it was game-on in the dash for the line.
Marcel Kittel’s teammates rode like clockwork and with less than 200m to go, Marcel, aboard his F-Feries FRD, came around the left hand side for what he called the biggest win of his career. It was a brilliant moment and finish, and the whole Argos-Shimano team should be credited for staying poised and focused as the race came unraveled in the waning moments.
For both Argos-Shimano and Felt, this is the first win in a Tour de France and in yellow!!