Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) took his thirteenth stage success at the Tour de France and the fourth of this year’s race today in Bergerac. In doing so, he set a new stage victories record for a German rider at the race.
Quick-Step Floors kept the two-man breakaway which took off early on the day on a leash, with Julien Vermote ensuring that Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro) and Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), who never had more than five minutes lead, were caught inside the final seven kilometres.
New Zealand National ITT Champion Jack Bauer, Zdenek Stybar and Fabio Sabatini then worked to get Kittel into a prime position in the final kilometre.
The experienced Italian lead-out man dropped Kittel with 500 metres to go and the points classification leader patiently waited for his rivals to make the first move in the headwind, before coming out of Dan McLay’s slipstream and coasting to his fourth victory, ahead of John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).
“It’s incredible to win four stages at a single edition of the Tour de France and it means a lot for me to achieve this fantastic feat,” said an elated Kittel, who broke Erik Zabel’s 15-year-old record and became the most successful German rider in terms of stage wins at the Grande Boucle.
“When I began my career, I was dreaming about becoming a professional, but I never expected something like this. I never race for records, but I must admit that having thirteen Tour de France stages to my name is really special. I never felt better, I’m in good condition and all these things give me confidence, and that confidence, together with the team’s hard work and dedication, carried me again to victory.”
The German had words of praise for one of the race’s most hard-working riders, Julien Vermote, who so far has spent nearly 1000 kilometres at the front of the bunch, making sure no breakaway succeeded on the flat stages: “What Julien is doing is absolutely incredible. He’s showing the world how strong he is, physically and mentally. Riding in front of the peloton, keeping the same speed and tightly controlling the escapees, it may look simple, but it isn’t, so hats off to him.”