Kittel Powers to Victory in Stage 21 of Tour de France 2014
Kittel's Giant-Shimano team once again played a huge roll in the success, keeping Kittel out of trouble and then setting him up perfectly despite a hectic final corner where they had to fight for their position in a battle that included Team Tinkoff-Saxo, Team Cannondale, Team Katusha, Team Garmin-Sharp-POC and Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
The final stage of the Tour de France always begins with a procession before the racing gets underway when the peloton reaches the streets of Paris. As soon as the peloton reached the finishing circuits around the Champs Élysées the attacks started, including bids from riders such as Jens Voigt, Michael Mørkøv and Richie Porte.
The sprinter teams, including Team Giant-Shimano, however had their sights set on the stage victory. Team Giant-Shimano delivered Kittel to the finish for a sprint and got into the pure sprint formation, though the team lost Cheng Ji to an unfortunate tumble. However, the rest of the riders grouped around Marcel and kept him in position while helping keep the front of the race together.
Coming into the final ten kilometers the peloton was one hundred percent focused on a mass sprint finish and the teams were present at the front, waiting for their climactic moment. The action started peaking with three kilometers to go when the lead-out trains hit the front and ramped up the pace, each looking to get through the final corner in first position.
On the approach to the final corner in the last kilometer the Giant-Shimano team was swamped, but a strong push from John Degenkolb saw a gap open up and the team could push through with Tom Veelers coming out of the final bend in the lead, with Marcel Kittel on his wheel.
The sprint opened up and three riders lined up next to each other in a drag race for the line. Initially Alexander Kristoff pulled ahead but Marcel kept the power down and as Kristoff started to slow he gave it one last push and moved ahead to take his fourth win of the race and his eighth Tour de France stage win in his short career so far.
Despite his fall Cheng battled on to finish the stage and in doing so became the first Chinese rider ever to not only start but to finish the Tour de France.
Team Astana's Vincenzo Nibali took the overall victory in this year's Tour de France.