Marcel Kittel compared winning on The Mall to triumphing on the Champs-Elysees as the German’s Tour de France sprint supremacy continued in London yesterday.
Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won a second stage in three attempts on UK soil as the Tour’s excursion across The Channel concluded following a hugely successful Grand Depart in Yorkshire.
The powerful German was brilliantly delivered by his team in front of Buckingham Palace to claim a sixth stage win in two editions of the Tour.
“Emotionally, this win is close to the one I got on the Champs-Elysees in Paris last year,” Kittel said.
“Winning on The Mall, that’s what I dreamed of but, even though I had a good chance to make it come true, it’s not something I could take for granted.
“It’s really fantastic to win here. On the finishing line, the crowd was fantastic. I love the atmosphere.”
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.
The peloton raced near Mark Cavendish’s Essex home, but the partisan crowd were deprived of the 25-times stage winner’s presence by his withdrawal with a shoulder injury sustained on stage one in Harrogate.
Cavendish will have surgery tomorrow and will be out for six weeks, ruling him out of the Commonwealth Games.
Kittel won four stages to Cavendish’s two in the 2013 Tour and, in a Regal setting, once again proved he is the current sprint king, with Peter Sagan (Cannondale) second and Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-QuickStep team-mate Mark Renshaw third.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who won in Sheffield on day two, finished safely in the bunch to retain the overall leader’s yellow jersey, with defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) fifth overall.