Mark Cavendish elicits a strop from Marcel Kittel
The thing about headwinds is, they slow you down. If Marcel Kittel had been one of the four men who had ridden near enough 200km into one as part of the break, he’d have been acutely aware of this. As it was, he only popped himself into the wind for the final few hundred metres and he rather wished he’d left it later still.
It was a sprint finish and Kittel was first to go. In part thanks to the headwind, he was also the first to fade. As Mark Cavendish rounded him and moved in front, the German removed one hand from the bars and gesticulated him as if he’d been held up. You can’t get held up by someone moving faster than, Marcel. It’s just not possible.
The win was Cavendish’s fourth of the race and the 30th of his career. Only Eddy Merckx is ahead of him now with 34. In many ways it would be wrong to go past Merckx, who is without argument the greatest cyclist of them all – but Cavendish probably will do. Make of that what you will.
He still won’t win the points competition though. Not unless Peter Sagan crashes in the mountains. The Slovak’s lead is 62 points with just 50 available for each sprint stage win.
There are plenty of climbs along the way, but stage 15 is essentially the Grand Colombier and then the Grand Colombier again, only coming the other way. The first time’s 12.8km at 6.8% and the second visit’s 8.4km at 7.6%.
Delicacies of this region include chicken and poultry of Bresse, bleu de Bresse cheese and fondue bressane. If you’re in any doubt, we’re in the province of Bresse.