Marcel Kittel's third victory in this years Tour de France was arguably his most impressive, and most important. Why this one more than his first? Because It was head up against the best sprinter in the world today, and possibly the best ever.
The day started as many do, with a break. It was one that would last for most of the race, and nearly all of it as the always feisty J.A. Flecha of Vocansoleil made a valiant last ditch effort to get a heroic win only to be swallowed up by the peloton with under 6k to go.
From then on it was all about maintaining an upright position as a huge crash took out a number of riders. Some of them, such as Sky's Edvald Boassen Hagen who broke his right scapula, sadly had their races ended completely. Cavendish and Kittels lead out men both made it through with their leaders on their wheels. At the end it was Steegmans leading out Cav in textbook fashion...a situation we've seen so many times end up a win for Cav that I'd be willing to bet my bike that he does it again... only today it was different. Kittel pulled a Dish on the Dish and waited just long enough to conserve enough energy to shoot around the Missile on the right and pip him for the win at the line.
With the victory Kittel has managed to put the disappointment of last years injury ended tour to rest, and to cement his place next to the best sprinters racing in the pro peloton today.
Oh - and let's not forget about Mr. Consistency. Peter Sagan picked up what I count as his 6th podium of the race as well. He saw his huge points lead drop to 94 points, but with only 2 true sprinting stages left, it would seem the green jersey is almost as locked up for him as yellow is for Froomey. With a couple more rouleur stages still to come, perhaps his Cannondale teammates can put in another effort like the one on stage 6, when they dropped the hammer for nearly 100 km to distance the other sprinters and deliver him to the line in first class style.
Tomorrow is most likely the last chance for the pure sprinters to get a win before the Champs Elysees, so I'd expect some fireworks from the OPQS, Argos, Cannondale and Lotto boys as they try to get another win before the race heads to the heavens this weekend.