/ Cycling

Kittel wins third stage in last UK leg of Tour de France

Updated: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 18:03 | Comments

Marcel Kittel of Germany and Team Giant-Shimano celebrates as he wins in London Crowds cheer as cyclists competing in the Tour de France pass through London's Parliament Square
Marcel Kittel of Germany and Team Giant-Shimano celebrates as he wins in London Crowds cheer as cyclists competing in the Tour de France pass through London's Parliament Square

Marcel Kittel's Tour de France sprint supremacy continued today as the German won stage three of the Tour de France on The Mall in London.

The 155km route from Cambridge was the third and final stage on UK soil ahead of the race's return to France and was always destined to end in a sprint finish.

Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won four stages in the 2013 Tour and already has two wins from three stages a year on after triumphing on Saturday's opening day and again in front of Buckingham Palace, where he once again proved he is the new sprint king.

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was second, with Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider Mark Renshaw third.

Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who assumed the yellow jersey by winning in Sheffield on day two, finished safely in the bunch to retain the overall lead.

Ireland's Nicolas Roche (Tonkoff-Saxo) finished 64th and lies 25th overall, 16 seconds behind Nibali.

"This was one of the fastest sprints I've ever done," said Kittel.

"My job was 500 metres long but the biggest fight was already over. My boys had done a great job before that."

Debate raged last summer whether Kittel had surpassed Briton Mark Cavendish as the world's leading sprinter.

Cavendish will not be able to challenge his rival after crashing out on Saturday in pursuit of a first yellow jersey of his career.

"This was one of the fastest sprints I've ever done" - Marcel Kittel

It means that, for the first time since voluntarily exiting the 2008 Tour to prepare for the Beijing Olympics, Cavendish will not reach Paris, where the race concludes on 27 July.

The riders flew to France this evening on four chartered aeroplanes from London City Airport.

Whether the Tour's vast fleet of support vehicles make it across The Channel depends, at least in part, on a fully-functioning Eurotunnel after chaos caused by a power failure earlier in the day.

The stage marked the conclusion of a Grand Depart labelled the best yet and witnessed by millions - Tour director Christian Prudhomme estimated five million people had lined the Yorkshire stages from Leeds to Harrogate and from York to Sheffield.

On a regular working day the roads of Cambridgeshire, Essex, by the Olympic Park in East London and in Westminster, were lined with extraordinary crowds which are surely only likely to hasten the return of the race across La Manche.

Defending champion Chris Froome, who was 28th on stage three, one place ahead of Nibali, said on teamsky.com: "It was a good day for us and we're three days into the Tour now. It's quite a good feeling.

"We did get a little bit wet in the final but I suppose it wouldn't have been a British start without a bit of rain."

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