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Marcel Kittel (Argos - Shimano)
... and more stories from stage 12
Cavendish not invited to post-Tour criterium
Mark Cavendish will not be welcome at the Dutch post-Tour de France criterium in Boxmeer due to the incident between the Manx man and Argos-Shimano lead-out man Tom Veelers on stage 10.
Sky Sports reports that former pro cyclist Twan Poels, who is a member of the race's organising committee, sad, "We may be looking for a sprinter, but Cavendish is not that. I have seen the TV images of the sprint together with the board and I decided to take him off the list.
"Simply put we find his actions not very good. The jury may think he is not responsible for the fall of Tom Veelers - we absolutely believe otherwise."
The decision was met with a woof-shrug from Omega Pharma - Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere. "It says more about them than Mark Cavendish. Classless."
Cavendish himself wasn't even aware that racing there had been a possibility in the first place. “I don’t think I’d ever been invited," he said. "I wish them luck with the criterium.”
Kittel becomes Germany's fifth three-time Tour winner
Marcel Kittel's sprint win in Tours earned him membership of an elite circle of German riders as well as that of currently the fastest sprinter in the peloton.
The Argos-Shimano is just the fifth German rider to win three stages in the same edition of the Tour de France. Also in the 3x climb are Andre Greipel –who won three stages last year, Erik Zabel –who won three times in 2001 and 1997, Jan Ullrich –who won three stages in the 1998 Tour but lost overall to Marco Pantani and Rudi Altig –who win three stages in 1963 and 1966.
The record for the number of stages wins in one Tour by a German riders belongs to Dietrich Thurau, the classy but fragile German won five stages in 1977. Kittel would have to win today and then in Lyon on Saturday to match him.
Several riders have lost races due to premature victory salutes - greats such as Erik Zabel and Tom Boonen - but today's celebration-without-cause came from Matteo Trentin of Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, who must have misunderstood the announcers as he crossed the line, thinking his sprinter Cavendish had won. Alas, it was not the case as Kittel once again took the win.
At least Cavendish didn't blame his lead-out: "My team did incredible today," Cavendish said. "We analyzed the finish beforehand. In the last days I think we've been a little to eager, you know, which is kind of a good thing because it means you've got the commitment from everybody. But ultimately we always ran out of guys. So today we talked about staying calm and staying patient and going at the last moment. The guys were a lot more comfortable and it made my job a lot easier. I'm just really disappointed I couldn't finish it off for them."
The Tour is one big sausage festival
Television audiences just do not get to experience the full spectacle that is the Tour de France. Absent from the home view is the publicity caravan that precedes the race, tossing the occasional treat to the spectators all along the route over the three weeks of racing.
Lemonde.fr's Tour blog today featured a young caravan hostess named Elodie, who hucks meat at the fans from the Cochonou truck. A total of almost half a million mini-salami - or nine tons of sausage - are distributed along the route.
But it's not all fun, games and savory treats: "Sometimes, especially in the mountains, people are so keen to get hold of the goodies, they may pounce on the car. It's impressive, they take risks. And if they don't get their sausage, they may throw various things at us. The nicest is water. Sometimes it's beer; sometimes stones."
Another member of the Cochonou caravan revealed that the caravan has to keep moving when they get to the mountains: "If you stop they will take everything - your goodies, your glasses. One year in the Pyrenees, the Basque fans waited above the entrance of a tunnel and they began to piss when the caravan arrived. We were greeted by a curtain of piss. We had to pass through covering our eyes and mouths."
See? It's not just about Mark Cavendish.
Triple treat earns De Kort a trim
A bet between teammates looks like it has paid off for now three-time Tour de France stage winner Marcel Kittel. Argos-Shimano teammate Koen de Kort made a bet with his sprint captain that would involve the Dutchman shaving his head if Kittel took out a triple-treat of victories. With Kittel making good on his end of the bargain yesterday, it looks like de Kort will be going under the razor. An after shot is yet to be seen but expect a new 'race cut' to be on show at the start of Stage 13.
"Koen de Kort was a bit afraid that I might win again because we had a bet that, if I win three stages he has to shave his head," Kittel told letour.fr. "This is going to happen now," he added.
Flecha misses target a decade on from his first bullseye
Juan Antonio Flecha had a tough day in front of the peloton in yesterday’s stage 12. Despite sustaining injuries to his face, hand and elbow on stage 10, Flecha was part of the five-man breakaway that saw the lead extend out to 9 minutes. The experienced Vacansoleil-DCM rider then made an effort off the front when the catch appeared imminent. Sadly it wasn’t his day, caught with six kilometres to go before the sprint finish.
Flecha remains hungry for a stage win since his victory in the French race a decade ago. In 2003, the Spaniard was victorious on stage 11 into Toulouse that saw him make the famous archer salute as he crossed the finish line.
"It's pretty much the same as every day you attack, the policy is to go as soon as possible and gain as much time as we could. It's the second week of the Tour de France so for the sprinters it's hard to control the race and manage the attacks," Flecha told letour.fr.
"I really went for the win. They caught me with six kilometres to go but I'm still happy with my race because when you see the speed of the peloton, it's nice to know that I could stay ahead for so long."