Kittel Wins Tour of Britain Opener

Tour of BritainMarcel Kittel has won the opening stage of the Tour of Britain with a sprint finish at the conclusion of the eight-lap, 104.8km start in Liverpool, narrowly beating Nicola Ruffoni into second and Mark Cavendish into third. Team Giant-Shimano’s Kittel, who won two of the Grand Depart stages of this year’s Tour de France finished in 2h 16’35” commenting: ‘It was really messy at the finish – it’s always difficult when you have a downhill section in the final kilometre as it becomes really fast and harder to hold position… It’s good to win the first stage. It’s really nice to see the reaction of the spectators here – a lot of people came out to the race today.’


Cavendish was, in many respects, lucky to take a podium place at all having crashed into a car at just under the 105k point prompting flash-backs of his disastrous Tour de France opener. The Omega Pharma – Quick-Step rider said of the accident: ‘I had to change my cleats in the beginning of the stage; I was coming back after and I was behind a car. Someone had to stop for a puncture so the car slammed on its brakes, and there was an island in the road. If I went right, I would hit a traffic island, so I went left and I whacked another car. I hit it with my left leg and I was down on the road. I felt immediately a lot of pain on my quadriceps. It took me a lap to come back even because our team car couldn’t assist me immediately because it was on the front.’


Defending Tour of Britain champion Bradley Wiggins, hoping to become the first rider to win successive titles since the race was reintroduced in 2004, finished in the peloton in 74th place.


The Tour of Britain continues today with the 200.8k stage from Knowsley to Llandudno. Full details at


Cheng Ji Makes Tour de France History

Marcel KittelTeam Giant-Shimano has announced the final nine riders who will line-up in Yorkshire on July 5 for the start of the 101st Tour de France. They are: Roy Curvers (NED), John Degenkolb (GER), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Cheng Ji (CHN), Marcel Kittel (GER), Koen De Kort (NED), Albert Timmer (NED) and Tom Veelers (NED). With their primary aim of winning a stage, Team Giant-Shimano has developed two sprint formations, the first revolving around Marcel Kittel – the ‘Pure Sprint Formation’ – and the second, around John Degenkolb – the ‘Power Sprint Formation.’


Cheng Ji will be making history as the first Chinese rider to participate in the Tour de France, with Team Giant-Shimano coach Rudi Kemna commenting: ‘When we started working with him as a young talented rider back in 2008 we made a long-term plan and this has seen him develop into the highest level of the sport and we see him now playing an important factor in the sprint formations. Having Cheng in the team as the first Chinese rider ever to ride the Tour de France will be huge for him and his country and we look forward to seeing the impact this has on the Globalisation of the sport.’


Kittel Out of the Giro d’Italia

Giant-ShimanoIn a major blow to Team Giant Shimano’s tour ambitions Marcel Kittel has been forced to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia before the start of today’s fourth stage, 121km Giovinazzo – Bari, due to a fever.


The Team Giant-Shimano medical staff, along with Kittel decided this morning that the double Giro stage winner would not start today’s stage with coach, Marc Reef saying: ‘We made the decision here before the start of the fourth stage that Marcel would not continue the race. Two days ago, after the third stage he already indicated that he did not feel 100%. Yesterday morning he said that he felt better, but this morning at breakfast he had the same complaints and after a few check-ups with our team physician we saw that the fever had deteriorated and so we made the decision together that he should not continue.’
‘It is a hard decision and a big loss for the team and a pity for Marcel,’ continued Reef, ‘But we have to move on and with Luka (Mezgec) we have another strong sprinter on board. We will rebuild our positioning in the sprint train and keep challenging with Luka on the flats now.’

For his part Kittel added: ‘I am very disappointed about leaving the Giro after such a strong start in good condition, but I do not feel healthy and I am not in the position to start the race in this condition. I want to thank my team for their support these past few days and wish them the best of luck for the rest of the race.’



Kittel Wins in Belfast

giro_italia_largeGermany’s Marcel Kittel has won the first road stage of the 97th Giro d’Italia for Team Giant-Shimano, a stage they team say they had set their sites on since the route was announced. Kittel took the final bend at the end of the 219km stage that started and ended in Belfast and outstripped Nacer Bouhanni ( and Trek Factory Racing’s Giacomo Nizzolo to win in 5:13:12″.


Kittel commented on his victory: ‘I am so happy with how it worked out today, and to get the Giro off to a great start for not only me but the whole team. The finish went quite well considering it was pretty hard to get a lead-out going on the technical run-in. The guys set me up in position and even though I was a bit isolated I managed to come round the others in the last few hundred metres… This was our target, getting the Giro off to the best start possible on the flat sprint stages here in Ireland and to re-pay the team here for their confidence and hard work is a great feeling.’


Team Sky’s Ben Swift, Britain’s only rider taking place in this year’s Giro d’Italia, finished seventh, placing him at 30th on General Classification. The Orica-GreenEDGE trio of Michael Matthews, Luke Durbridge and Ivan Santaromita currently head the GC going into tomorrow’s 187km Stage 3 Armagh – Dublin.


Following a rest day on Monday the Giro d’Italia continues back on Italian soil on Tuesday, May 13.



Giant-Shimano Confirm Giro d’Italia Line-Up

Giant-ShimanoTeam Giant-Shimano have announced their final nine-rider line-up for the first Grand Tour of the 2014 season, the Giro d’Italia, which starts in Belfast on May 9. Having already detailed Germany’s Marcel Kittel’s participation earlier in April, the team have now targeted the sprints with young Slovenian, Luka Mezgec, who already has four victories secured this season, and confirmed both Simon Geschke (Germany) and Tobias Ludvigsson (Sweden).  For his part in the Giro Kittel comments: ‘Our first goal for the Giro d’Italia is to go for a stage and there are plenty of early opportunities for this with several flat days… I got the Tour de Romandie off to a strong start yesterday in the prologue and hope to have a good week of preparation here with some hard racing kilometres to get me ready for the start of the Giro next week.’


Team Giant-Shimano’s full team for the Giro d’Italia is: Bert de Backer (BEL), Simon Geschke (GER), Marcel Kittel (GER), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Georg Preidler (AUT), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Tom Veelers (NED).


Speaking about the line up for the Giro, Team Giant-Shimano coach, Addy Engels said: ‘The first goal for the Giro with Marcel in the team will obviously be for the sprints, and for the stages that are slightly too hilly for him we can ride for Luka too. We have a strong line-up of riders who will be able to support this in terms of chasing down the breaks and also for the lead-outs. Then there’s a part of the team that will be looking for results from the other stages and taking their chances when they can – guys like Tobias, Simon and Georg. Opportunities like these are great for learning and development, as being out front in the final stages of a Grand Tour stage is no easy feat…’


This year’s Giro d’Italia starts with three stages outside Italy, taking in Northern Ireland and Ireland. Starting with a time trial in Belfast on Friday May 9, the race will move on to Italy from Tuesday May 13 and end in Trieste on Sunday June 1.


Take a look at the Cyclo feature on this year’s Giro d’Italia here - Further details on Team Giant-Shimano at



Mark Cavendish on Twitter

Mark Cavendish on TwitterA bunch sprint and a terrifying looking final bend before the line was not a recipe for an event-free finish at yesterdays Tour de France; with seconds to go Mark Cavendish made contact Marcel Kittel’s lead-out man Tom Veelers, sending the Argos-Shimano rider sprawling. Kittel claimed victory, Cavendish still managed third (behind Lotto’s Andre Greipel), but the spat over who was to blame for the tumble quickly escalated, with Cav agitated enough to make a grab for a reporters recorder. Organisers have made it clear that Cav will not be penalised over the incident – effectively absolving him – but that well know court of arbitration, Twitter, has been aglow with ‘expert’ opinion. Here, for your delectation, is both Cavendish’s twitterage and some of the choicest comments that surrounded the debate…


Mark Cavendish @MarkCavendish


‘Not seen a replay of the final yet, but was involved in an incident with Tom Veelers. Whatever has happened, if I’m at fault, I’m sorry.’


‘There’s no way I’d move on a rider deliberately, especially one not contesting a sprint. I hope ?@tom_veelers is ok.’


‘Just seen the sprint. I believe I didn’t move line. I’m actually coming past Veelers & we touch elbows when he moves. Anyway, hope he’s ok.’


‘Can all sprint experts on twitter go & try flicking their bike right at 65kph without leaning your body left to balance & come back to me.’


‘If you wonder what happened to the journalists dictaphone yesterday, I gave it back literally 9 seconds after I took it #shitpickpocket’


The Best of the Rest


Colin Murray ?@ColinMurray

‘#cavendish asked was crash his fault, and he stole the journos tape recorder! So funny. He’s a one-man soap opera!! #tdf’


Wiggly Braddins ??@BradleyWiggins4

‘Breaking News! Cavendish wins ‘most aggressive rider’ of the day award.’


Callum O’Neil ?@Callum9592

‘From the grimace and extra shoulder nudge on top of additional movement for balance, can’t help but think #Cav was deliberate in crash #tdf’


Matt Goss ??@mattgoss1986

‘That was a close as u can come to going down in a sprint today! Veelers bike hit my front wheel then my leg then sent me in the air at 70kph’


Peddler ??@SecurityLog1

‘A lot of Twitter people telling Mark Cavendish how to sprint. The simplicity of instant opinion ?#ludicrous’


Stuart Edwards ??@StueyEd

‘Breaking news – French Police raiding OPQS team bus…’


‘…oh, hang on, nothing to do with doping – apparently they have a warrant to search the bus for a stolen tape recorder!’


James Lucas ??@RabAusten

‘Break away! Peloton,

fearful of an echelon.

Trains fight for space,

as Lotto set a pace.

Cav & Arg’y Bargy.

Kittel 1st to the party.’



Tour de Farce

tour de france busCertainly not the start that organisers had hoped for the 100th edition of the Tour de France. Whilst the first four-and-a-half hours or so of the 213km route from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia was relatively uneventful, with riders less than 15km away from the finish it became clear that the team bus of Orica GreenEDGE had become wedged under the finish line gantry. Whilst officials worked frantically to dislodge the bus, the decision was made to bring the finish forward to the ‘3km to go’ mark – arguably this had the benefit of being both a bus-free spot and coming equipped with photo-finish technology, but it came at a dangerous bend and looked far from ideal for a sprint finish. With teams working hard to position themselves for the truncated distance, the Orica bus was freed and the finish reestablished at the full 213km mark in Bastia. Then things got worse…


With around 4km to go a crash took out many of the main sprint contenders including Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan with Lotto-Belisol’s André Greipel initially looking unscathed but left standing with mech failure by the side of the road moments later. With what was left of the field hastily reforming it was Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) who won through in a time of 4h 56′ 52”.  Kittel later tweeted ‘I don’t know what to say. I will remember today forever. Thanks to my team mates (!!), family, friends and fans! This win is for you all!’


Orica GreenEDGE have been fined 2,000 Swiss Francs (£1,393) by organisers with Orica’s Sport Director, Matt White, saying: ‘Obviously, this was a really unfortunate situation. The bus was led under the finish gantry, and it we took for granted that there was enough clearance. We’ve had this bus since we started the team, and it’s the same bus we took to the Tour last year… Our bus driver was told to move forward and became lodged under the finish gantry. He followed all instructions in the process that followed thanks to the hard work by ASO that allowed him to remove the bus before the finish. It was the best possible outcome given the situation.’


Race officials neutralised finish time for those involved in the 11th-hour crash, a decision that has baffled and angered some – Cavendish tweeted: ‘I’d love an explanation from @UCI_cycling as to why time was neutralised on yesterday’s stage, but not points. Were only GC riders affected?’


The Tour de France continues (in less dramatic fashion?) today with the 156km route from Bastia to Ajaccio.


Want to know how the Tour de France began? Read the Cyclo feature Origins of the Tour de France here.


In the mood for more TdF? Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition book review here.