Kittel Wins Final Stage of Tour de France; Froome Claims Overall
The 2013 Tour de France is history. It ended as it began a seeming eon ago on Corsica, with Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) dusting the field. The German took a bunch sprint to win Stage 21, a flat, 133.5-km run from Versailles to Paris, in 3:06:14.
At the beginning of the last lap, the break was reeled in. Sky and Saxo Bank-Tinkoff took turns at the front to keep their GC men out of trouble before turning things over to Lotto-Belisol with three km to go. One km later, Omega Pharma-Quick Step took command, with Cannondale, Argos-Shimano, and Lotto-Belisol hard on their heels.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step led the field into the last km. Argos-Shimano grabbed the lead, with Greipel on Kittel’s wheel and Cavendish on Greipel’s. With 200 m left, Kittel made his move. Greipel tried to pass his countryman on the left and Cavendish tried on the right, but Kittel held them off to win by about half a bike length.
The stage win was Kittel’s fourth of this Tour, and the German saw it as a tribute to the squad’s teamwork. "This is a dream come true," Kittel said. "It has been a hard three weeks but I felt OK today. The guys did a really good job keeping me out of the wind on the Champs Elysees and then set me up perfectly.
"The final sprint went perfectly to plan. Even though Tom Veelers wasn’t there we made a good plan and it worked. We changed the order of the lead-out and it worked out. They launched me perfectly and no-one came past me before the line.
"This is a superb victory and I have to thank my team, the team spirit has been amazing right since day one in Corsica. We were ready for today, even though the past three weeks have been tiring; everyone was really up for this final stage. Everybody believed in it and stayed focused right to the end. This is a dream come true."
Froome experienced the emotion that all Tour winners before him had. From the podium, the Sky man said, “I’d like to dedicate this win to my late mother. Without her encouragement to follow my dreams I would probably be at home watching this event on the TV. It’s a great shame she never got to come and see the Tour. But I’m sure she would be extremely proud if she was here tonight.
“This amazing journey would not be possible without the support I’ve received on and off the bike. I’d like to thank my team-mates who have buried themselves day in-day out, throughout this Tour to keep this yellow jersey on my shoulders. And the Team Sky management, for believing in my ability and building this team around me. Thank you to all the people who have taken their time to teach and mentor me over the years, to get me into this privileged position.
“Finally I’d like to thank my close friends and family, who have been there for me every step of the way - especially my fiancée Michelle who is here tonight. This is a beautiful country, with the finest annual sporting event on the planet. To win the 100th edition is an honour beyond any I’ve dreamed. This is one yellow jersey that will stand the test of