March 19, 2018

Chris Froome watching Fabio Aru as race for yellow enters the Pyrenees

14 July 2017, 12:49 | Cassandra Thompson

Marcel Kittel celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of Germany's John Degenkolb and Dylan Groenewegen

Marcel Kittel celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of Germany's John Degenkolb and Dylan Groenewegen

Marcel Kittel won his fifth stage of this year's Tour de France with victory on stage 11, as Britain's Chris Froome retained the leader's yellow jersey.

Yesterday's finishing town of Pau will be the start of the second summit finish of the race, with the riders heading into the Pyrennes on Stage 12 of the Tour de France.

Africa's Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka performed a great leadout for Edvald Boasson Hagen, who did well to make podium as he sprinted to third place.

Once again the 29-year-old German had enough time to raise his arm aloft, signifying his five stage wins, as he coasted over the line, his rivals only able to draft in behind him.

Froome stayed clear of trouble but admitted the incidents made for a more stressful day.

However at the finish it was German Marcel Kittel, wearing the green jersey (for the rider with the most points from intermediate sprints and stage finishes) who came first.

The final 50 kilometres are identical to those raced over back on Stage 17 of the 2012 Tour.

"It's ideal at the moment", said Kittel. "That was McLay today, I just held his wheel and then I could hit the front at the flawless moment".

Marcel Kittel is now 102 points ahead in the race for the green jersey
Marcel Kittel is now 102 points ahead in the race for the green jersey

"It's quite savage. I think if someone blows in those few hundreds of metres (at 20 per cent), there could be some really significant time gaps", said Froome.

Aru, the Italian champion and 2015 Spanish Vuelta victor, leads the list followed closely by last year's runner-up Romain Bardet, the Frenchman who is third overall, 51 seconds back. "I'm not expecting anything insane, but sometimes it's when you don't expect things that they happen".

"Kittel was the strongest, he came from behind", Bouhanni said.

Instead of what riders call a "transition" day, with a comfortable run to the gateway to the Pyrenees mountains, Stage 11 proved to be a brutal experience for some of the top riders after a series of crashes left them nursing cuts and bruises. The following year Simpson managed top 10 finishes in two of the most prestigious one-day classics La Flèche Wallonne and Paris-Roubaix with trademark attacking rides that, although ultimately futile, earned him many admirers.

"Sponsors are paying millions of dollars to get performances", LeMond, on the Tour as an analyst for Eurosport, said in a daily chat with Reuters.

"It's something outstanding we are achieving here", Kittel said.

The Tour kicks off in the Pyrenees on Stage 12 which covers 214.5 km with six category climbs.

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