Wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour de France only lasted one day for Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano). The winner of the chaotic first stage of the Tour de France struggled during the hillier 156km long second stage from Bastia to Ajaccio.
On the Col de la Serra, the second climb of the day, he dropped off the pace of the main peloton. The German sprinter never made it back up to the front of the bunch and eventually arrived in the so-called "bus" 17:35 after stage winner Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard), who took over the maillot jaune from Kittel.
Kittel did get a consolation prize: the green jersey of the sprint classification in which he holds a lead of four points over Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
After crossing the line, Kittel talked about his day in yellow. When a journalist asked him if he slept in the yellow jersey like some did in the past, Kittel smiled and said, "No, that's a bit too far."
"The yellow jersey boosted me a lot. Uphill I was flying because of the cheers that I received from the crowd. I wasn't flying fast enough though," Kittel said, laughing. "Luckily, I ended up in a good group that made it safely to the finish."
In that group he was accompanied by his wounded compatriot Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep). The time trial world champion had crashed hard in the finale of stage 1 and lost consciousness twice in the team bus right after the stage. Martin received a lot of praise from Kittel.
"Yesterday, I immediately texted him to wish him good luck. He answered that it wasn't as bad as expected. He rode in the same group like I did to the finish. He indicated that he was satisfied with how he was doing. I have a lot of respect for him. He probably didn't get any sleep, and then you have to get on your bike and ride a stage like this."
"He must have suffered a lot today. I know he can suffer a lot since he's the time trial world champion. I'm sure that this Tour de France is not over for him just yet."
The Tour de France isn't over yet for Kittel either. The 25-year-old has the green jersey for now, although he says he will not defend it.
"Waking up and realizing I was going to wear the yellow jersey was fantastic," he said. "Knowing that I'll be wearing the green jersey is fantastic, too, but like I said before the Tour de France, this year the green jersey isn't a goal. I'm not going to defend it. This week, we're focusing on winning stages with the team."
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