Tour de France

I'm a bigger champion than Cavendish - Kittel

2016-07-17 09:54
Marcel Kittel (AFP)

Villars-les-Dombes - German Marcel Kittel insisted he was still the top sprinter despite again being beaten by Mark Cavendish in a controversial finish at the Tour de France on Saturday.

Kittel was the dominant sprinter in 2013 and 2014, winning four stages at the Tour in both editions.

Yet so far this year he's managed only one stage victory while Cavendish claimed his fourth at the end of the 208.5km 14th stage.

The German was unhappy that his British rival seemed to swerve in front of him in the finishing straight, but the race jury decided Cavendish had done nothing wrong.

"For sure right now I'm a bigger champion than Cav -- I will not point the finger at him," said the 28-year-old Etixx sprinter.

"But his action influenced the result. Whatever I think is fair cannot be the same as the jury."

Kittel was beaten into second by Cavendish on the opening and sixth stages but he did edge Frenchman Bryan Coquard in a photo-finish on stage four.

On Saturday he finished fifth after sitting up to remonstrate after Cavendish crossed in front of him.

"I could have finished higher than fifth today," he complained.

"If you look at the road markings then it's clear that he came out of my slipstream and turned to the right.

"I had to brake and swerve to avoid falling down."

Cavendish unsurprisingly saw things differently.

"It's him who came off the barriers more than anything," insisted the 31-year-old Dimension Data rider.

Kittel was hugging the right-hand side of the course in the sprint finish as the road bore slightly round to the right.

Cavendish launched his sprint from Kittel's slipstream as the German started to drift away from the barriers.

As he got clear of Kittel, Cavendish did jerk slightly to his right, but there was room there for Kittel to move back towards the barriers.

Cavendish's weave seemed to surprise Kittel, though, and he was forced to take evasive action.

By the time it happened, though, Cavendish believed he had the German already beaten.

"I knew Kittel would be left on the front quite soon into the headwind. So I knew I had to wait, wait, wait and let him die and then come around," said the winner of 30 Tour stages since 2008.

"I jumped around him and obviously it bent over to the right and he's kicked off a little bit, but I was way past him by then.

"I don't figure there's anything wrong there. I think he was just frustrated."

Read more on:    tdf 2016  |  marcel kittel  |  cycling
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