Kittel can make more inroads in Green jersey battle
German in a different league if he gets a clear run
Stage seven ITV4 & Eurosport 1, 11am
After an explosive start featuring big-name crashes and controversies, the 2017 Tour de France trundled its way from Vesoul to Troyes in the most predictable fashion imaginable.
True, few would have anticipated a large parasol blowing into the peloton and thankfully not causing any of the riders to hit the deck, but the result was exactly as the odds and the experts had foretold.
Marcel Kittel powered past Arnaud Demare and Andre Greipel to ease to his second stage win of the week, and everyone else followed them home without mishap. It could well be the same story again on stage seven, although the race has a habit of creating a tremor just when everyone is expecting calm.
The riders have 213 largely flat kilometres to cover before two weekend tests in the Jura mountains, and, while Kittel showed in stage four that he doesn’t always avoid victory-costing traffic problems, he has also shown this week that if he gets a clear run he is in a different league to the other fast men and it is no surprise that he is odds-on for a third triumph.
He is also getting shorter for the green jersey. The German trails Demare by 27 points and is barely behind him in the betting, with the bookies believing only Michael Matthews, who is around 7-1, has much chance of crashing the battle of the big two.
After this stage, the sprinters have two chances before the race hits the Pyrenees, but there are a maximum of two realistic possibilities for a bunch sprint before the guaranteed burn-up in Paris, so it should be a riveting duel for green.
There was certainly some tension in the air after stage six, with Nacer Bouhanni clearly unhappy with what he saw as aggressive riding from Demare late on.
But Jacopo Guarnieri, Demare’s main leadout man, was having none of it, claiming: “Bouhanni is an idiot. He didn’t just pass me, he also put his knee into my bars. He’s a dick, he’s always making people crash. We know he’s like that. He’s probably upset with us because he always loses.”
Stand by for more fireworks in the last 250m but stand by too for Kittel to cross the line in front.
2pts 10-11 Betway