Tours, FRA – Just 48 hours after winning his second stage in the 100th edition of Tour de France, Marcel Kittel and Team Argos-Shimano made it a hat-trick as Marcel grabbed Stage 12 in a finish line bike throw.
The 218k stage from Fougeres to Tours was largely a flat affair, and shaped up to be another opportunity for the sprinters. For Team Argos-Shimano, a chance to do well here was fueled in part by the bitter-sweet end to Stage 10 which, while Marcel won, also saw Tom Veelers (below, with Marcel just after today’s finish) go down hard in the final 100m after tangling with Mark Cavendish.
Today played out like a modern-day sprint stage with all the big sprint trains moving to the front inside 20K to go. Aboard their F-Series FRD’s, the Argos-Shimano boys rode perfectly and it was John Degenkolb, Koen de Kort, and Veelers who, by the time it was inside 2K, delivered Marcel in a great position to contend for the win. By the final 150m things were blown apart and flat-out, and when Cav jumped for the line, Marcel got right on him and was ultimately able to come rocketing around his left side for the win.
Marcel said afterwards, “This win today means a lot to me. It’s the third win for the team, which is incredible. The team again did a really good job. They worked hard and kept me out of the wind all day. In the final kilometers it was our train against Omega Pharma – Quick-Step. When the last lead-out man pulled off I jumped to the right wheels and had a very good position when Mark Cavendish started the sprint. I stayed calm and was able to overtake him in the end, but it was very close.
“Today it was great to beat Cavendish in a straightforward sprint. In the final 200m I was able to sit on his wheel. We started the sprint together, and I had the best punch at the end. We’ve done a good job so far, and I’m proud to know that I can beat the world’s best. Before the Tour we knew the team worked and we had prepared well, but when everything falls into place like this it is incredible. We’ve been working a long time for this, so these three wins are a big reward.”