Friday 15 December 2017

Dominant Kittel revels in latest victory

Kittel: “It is a lifetime experience.” Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Kittel: “It is a lifetime experience.” Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

Ian Parker

Marcel Kittel underlined his dominance of this year's sprints as he won stage 11 in Pau for his fifth victory of the race, while Chris Froome came home safely to retain the yellow jersey.

German Kittel made it two wins in two days following his victory in Bergerac 24 hours earlier, as the pack broke the heart of solo escapee Maciej Bodnar inside the last 300 metres of the stage.

"It's something outstanding we are achieving here," Kittel said. "It is a lifetime experience."

Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of LottoNL-Jumbo was second ahead of Team Dimension Data's Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Team Sky's Froome crossed the line in the main peloton to retain his 18-second lead over Italian national champion Fabio Aru in the general classification.

The sprinters cruelly denied Bora-Hansgrohe's Bodnar, who attacked out of the breakaway with 28 kilometres remaining and tried to solo home, having been out in front from the very beginning of the 203.5km stage.

"I'm not so happy about today," said a dejected Bodnar. "I can be happy about my legs but not the end. You do all day on the front, you have 250 metres only to go."

Aru's Astana squad suffered a major blow in a feed-zone crash with Jakob Fuglsang, fifth overall, hurting his arm while key helper Dario Cataldo was forced to abandon the race.

AG2R La Mondiale's Romain Bardet, who sits third, 51 seconds off Froome's pace, also hit the deck but quickly recovered, while two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador went down with around 20km remaining before pacing his way back with the help of team-mate Jarlinson Pantano.

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