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Our race reporter, Glenn Te Raki brings you up to speed with all the action overnight from stage 11 of Le Tour.
Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Flooring) cannot be beaten, that’s what the experts are saying about the Green Jersey and any flat stage sprint finishes in this year’s Tour de France. Barring any misfortune, mechanical or crashes, Kittel will wear Green all the way to Paris.
Australian eyes are focused on Michael Matthews from Team Sunweb and what he can still produce as he sits 133 points back in second place in that same Sprinters category. Is it un-Australian to wish for that ‘misfortune’ for Kittel? I think so, but with only two real ‘sprinters’ stages left to race it looks like second is the best we can hope for.
Would Kittel still be wearing Green had Cavendish and Sagan remained in the Tour? It’s safe to say ‘absolutely’ yes, he is in the form of his life, like an ALF Full Forward seeing the footie coming in from the mid field like a watermelon, he can’t drop it, Kittel comes from 20-25 lengths back to destroy his opponents and its great for the sport of Cycling.
Now where do we go from here? Into the high-top stuff… the mountains, the Alps and the Pyrenees, this is where we will see the real fight for bragging rights start, just how good is Chris Froome this year?
Some say he will be beaten, Astana have two riders sitting in the top five places on GC, Aru looks like a man on a mission when he attacks, all be it some would say at the wrong times. Can Quintana redeem himself? I think it’s safe to say Contador has run his race and it’s time to focus on some new blood.
My pick with just over 10 days of racing to go is … yes Froome is too good for his rivals, his Sky team mates give him 200% every time they put their lycra on and this I believe will be the difference. They are as hungry for success as Froome is and they are extremely unselfish and that is the difference in winning and just placing, Astana will need to decide on a team leader, Aru looks the best choice but many still see Jakob Fuglsang as a capable rider with the ability to repeat his Dauphine win.
I’ve been very impressed with the young Kiwi Lotto NI-Jumbo rider, George Bennett, the winner of the 2017 Tour of California. Bennett showed us on stage on stage 9 just what he was capable of and currently holds on to a top 10 position.
What about the Irishman, Dan Martin? Sitting back in sixth place on GC after being tangled up in the Porte crash, is it finally time for him to step up or maybe time for him to ‘Quick-Step up’? Lets just see how this next week unfolds in what is becoming a very interesting edition for the Tour de France.