Another day, another fantastic show of British support for the Tour De France – me included – on the packed to the rafters full and slightly damp Mall, and another win for the dominant Marcel Kittel. The Tour left Britain yesterday but the experience of having the race through Yorkshire and London will not leave many people’s minds for a long time and as Christian Prudhomme remarked yesterday, it’s not a matter of if, but when the race returns. As for cycling in Britain, the Tour of Britain should have the home faces that the race was missing this year, and upgraded in the UCI classification, looks set to bring elite riders and teams for the foreseeable future along with a rise in profile, while there’s plenty of longevity in the current crop of British talent, with the Yates brothers at the beginning of exciting careers, and Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh especially (a winner of the British Road Race Championship and the first stage of the Tour of Austria) with a lot of seasons ahead of them while Chris Froome looks to be at his peak; Mark Cavendish will be 30 next year but that has not stopped the likes of many a top sprinter before him.
Today’s stage is tougher than the ceremonial run in to London – apart from a hard chase that made life difficult – but with a 45km flat run in from the top of the fourth category Mont Noir, it would be hard to imagine the sprinters teams letting this get away.
Marcel Kittel’s Giant Shimano side were not to be seen in the lead up to the chase – or not notably – but their move to the front at 3.5km put everyone else at a disadvantage from then on and Marcel Kittel won again with a good degree of ease, being a whole bike length clear on the line and drawing away with likely green jersey winner, even at this stage, Peter Sagan.
The two were a good distance clear of Mark Renshaw and the rest, headed by Bryan Coqaurd – doing a fine job for Europcar with only Kevin Reza to support him through the leadouts – in sprinting terms although Greipel (who was said to be struggling on the wet bends) and Demare lost contact with their sprint trains and Kristoff had a mechanical as the race sped through London.
With a big left hand bed at 400m to go, the timing of the leadout will be even more crucial – should FDJ or Lotto time thing right today then Demare and Griepel will have serious chances – although Giant have proven to be the best so far in that category and Kittel’s position as favourite is entirely understandable.
For an each/way bet, Peter Sagan is of interest. With Vivani as his wingman, he’s gained good position so far in two bunch sprints and while he’s not known as being the fastest bunch sprinter now he still packs a power punch and looks a value each/way bet.
1 pt each/way Peter Sagan (10/1 general, 8/1 Boylesports*)