Despite missing out on a tenth career win at the Tour de France, Marcel Kittel had words of praise for his teammates, who showed the Etixx – Quick-Step kit at the front right from the start of the stage and made sure of setting him up in a good position for the sprint.
“First of all I want to say that my team did a really good job, controlling the race, bringing me to the final and leading me out. I’m very proud of that and I want to thank the guys. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we wanted and I must admit I’m disappointed.”
Kittel was forced to brake in the stage-ending bunch kick as Cavendish moved into Kittel’s path, the German throwing his hand in the air in protest as Cavendish crossed the line.
Speaking minutes after the stage, Kittel said his sprint had been interfered with.
“I started my sprint super fast with 220 metres to go, the train worked well,” Kittel said. “I was in the inside; I was well positioned. I saw Cavendish passing me and just before the line he swerved to the right and I needed to brake to avoid collision.
“That move definitely influenced the result of today’s stage, but it’s not up to me to decide on this matter. I’m just disappointed of the outcome, because I had good sprinting legs.”
Dimension Data sports director Roger Hammond defended the actions of Cavendish in the final sprint, saying the incident might have looked worse on the bike than on the replay.
“I’m pretty sure when he [Marcel Kittel] calms down in five minutes and has a look at the screen he’ll probably think that probably wasn’t as bad as it looked to him on the bike,” Hammond said at his team bus. “And that’s the other thing — sometimes things look a lot different from your perspective.
“Everything feels faster and closer and more aggressive when you’re on the bike and then when you watch it actually from TV it looks completely different.”
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Etixx-QuickStep marcel kittel mark cavendish sprint stage 14 Tour de France