Kittel ties German record for Tour de France stage wins
NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES, France — Another day, another victory for Marcel Kittel in the Tour de France.
Only this time, the German made his move nearly too late and edged Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway only in a photo finish to win his third stage — and second in two days — in the race on Friday.
Provisional results awarded Kittel the victory but the photo of the finish left room for questions.
Kittel seemed sure he won, holding up three fingers to celebrate his three stage wins.
“It was super, super close,” Kittel said. “When there’s a photo finish, you have your doubts. I was lucky.”
Three-time champion Chris Froome will wear the yellow jersey into the mountains this weekend.
“Nothing really big happened today,” Froome said. “The GC (general classification) riders are thinking of the mountains coming this weekend.”
It was Kittel’s 12th career win in the Tour, tying him with Erik Zabel for the German record.
Kittel clocked slightly more than five hours over the mostly flat 213.5-kilometer (132-mile) leg from Troyes in champagne country to Nuits-Saint-Georges in the heart of the Burgundy winemaking region.
Michael Matthews of Australia crossed third.
Boasson Hagen took over the leadership duties at Team Dimension Data after Mark Cavendish abandoned the race with a broken shoulder this week. World champion Peter Sagan was disqualified from the Tour for causing Cavendish’s high-speed crash.
The victory helped Kittel take the green points jersey from French national champion Arnaud Demare, who finished 11th.
Kittel is aiming to wear green all the way to the finish in Paris on July 23.
Sagan won the green jersey in the past five Tours.
Froome remained 12 seconds ahead of Sky teammate Geraint Thomas and 14 seconds ahead of Fabio Aru of Italy.
Days like this look easy but are stressful, Froome said.
“Every kilometer you think about what can happen that could change the race,” Froome said. “If you turn left or right or if there is wind. It was a day for staying in front.”
The southeasterly route passed by the mustard capital of Dijon then concluded with a circuit through picturesque vineyards of Burgundy.
Like in the other three sprinting stages, an early breakaway — this one featuring Manuele Mori, Yohann Gene, Dylan van Baarle and Maxime Bouet — was caught shortly before the finish.
Stage 8 from Dole on Saturday finishes at the Rousses ski station in the Jura Range, close to the border with Switzerland. Three climbs on the 187.5-kilometer (116-mile) route will serve as a warm-up for the extremely tough Stage 9 on Sunday, which has seven climbs, including three with the “hors categorie” or beyond rating.
Froome said, “It should be a big weekend of racing.”
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