Stage 11: Marcel Kittel superior to the point of it becoming a bit boring
There are various levels of dominance. When results seem so predictable that no-one’s really interested any more, you really are on top. Marcel Kittel has now won five of the 11 stages at this year’s Tour de France.
Speaking after the stage, he said: “Sometimes when you’re on your top level in the sprints, it’s like playing Tetris.”
Fortunately, he expanded on that, saying, “I’ve always got the right gaps, I never made a mistake, all the lines were perfect.”
And then at the finish, everyone else just disappeared.
Michael Matthews managed fourth and so didn’t lose quite as much green jersey ground as he has been doing in sprint finishes. Dan McLay came fifth, which is pretty good. You feel he’ll probably win a stage one day, even if it isn’t this year.
Second of the three summit finishes – and a long day too. The Port de Bales is beyond categorisation – which means 11.7km at 7.7% – but the first category Col de Peyresourde will probably be where most of the damage is done. That one’s an only marginally friendlier 9.7km at 7.8%.
That’s not quite the finish though. Utterly bizarrely, the stage finishes by going up the Peyragudes Airport runway. Not only does this strip of tarmac boast a 15% gradient, it also appeared in the opening sequence of Tomorrow Never Dies.