Marcel Kittel’s back off holiday

Because that’s where he’s been, right? On the eighth of July, he’d won three out of four stages and then, on the 27th of July, he won a fourth. In between those times, he disappeared. I can only conclude that he had a fortnight in the Bahamas.

What an oddly protracted sporting event the Tour de France is, where major participants can go awol for such great swathes of time. What Kittel was actually doing during this period was ‘surviving’. He may have bookended the race with impressive wins, demonstrating he was the best rider in sprint finishes, but in the mountains he is a strong contender to be considered the worst in the peloton.

This is the unseen work that goes on in a three-week race and don’t forget that Kittel wasn’t the only one hanging in there for a chance of glory on the Champs Elysées. There were plenty of other sprinters who endured just as much suffering for what was merely an outside chance of glory.

The winner

Just a quick chapeau to 2014 Tour de France winner, Vincenzo Nibali, because I’ll try and write more about his performance at some point this week. One thing worth noting before then, however, is that this victory propels him into a very select group of cyclists who have won all three Grand Tours. The others are Jacques Anquetil, Alberto Contador, Felice Gimondi, Bernard Hinault and, inevitably, Eddy Merckx.

What’s next?

Race-wise, there are a few World Tour events coming up, but I’m not sure to what extent I’ll cover them. Our next major rendezvous is the Vuelta a Espana, the final Grand Tour of the year.

I try and keep this site quite accessible which means there’s a natural drop-off in readership after the Tour finishes, but if you did enjoy the race and my coverage of it, do try and stick with me for the Vuelta, which is probably my favourite race of the year.

The Vuelta tends to be a lot easier to follow than the Tour because the race is so much more focused on the general classification. Whereas the Tour has stages to suit everyone, you tend to see the main contenders battling it out at the end of most days of the Vuelta.

There’s also the stellar start list to consider. In short, there is a decent chance that all of the big names who weren’t in Paris will be in Jerez on the 23rd of August. Sign up for this site’s email if you think you’ll forget.