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.


7 responses to “Marcel Kittel’s back off holiday”

  1. Thanks for a great race Alex. I’ve very much enjoyed it. For someone who knows very little about this sort of thing (me), your daily assessments opened it up very nicely, giving a glimpse of the subtlety and tactics behind the purely physical aspects. Looking forward very much to the Vuelta.

    1. No worries. And thanks to you for covering the rest days.

  2. Eurosport live during the day, ITV4 highlights in the evening, backed up on the web with Cycling News, Inner Ring, Procycling Stats and TdFonTV for breakfast!

    But it’s this site that finds me most quoting to the wife over the muesli!

    Thank you Alex (and Bert) for being such an essential (and much looked forward to) part of a fascinating Tour!

    1. In that case, I apologise for rarely getting the previous stage’s article uploaded in time for breakfast.

  3. daneel avatar

    Before the race started, I was hoping for anyone but Froome or Contador to win (and hopefully Nibali), but once it turned into a foregone conclusion (and Cav’s race was ruined before it started) I completely lost interest this year.

    1. Surely one of the best things about the Tour is that there’s always something else going on?

      With Laurens Ten Dam, Tony Martin’s monstrousness, Peter Sagan’s winless streak, Laurens Ten Dam and Laurens Ten Dam, there was plenty to savour. Plus you could always play: “Will Geraint Thomas fall off today?” – a rare case of a game that actually becomes more fun for its predictability.

      1. daneel avatar

        I did make a few GT jokes, and laughing at Sagan was certainly amusing (is it only me who finds him completely detestable?), but it was all a bit…meh this year.

        I don’t even work with the Luxembourger any more so I can’t poke fun at The Schlecks.

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