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Could Marcel Kittel win eight stages in the 2017 Tour de France?

Joseph Delves
13 Jul 2017

With Kittel in top form and Sagan, Cavendish and Démare out, why settle for just five stage wins?

Even if disaster strikes Marcel Kittel and he crashes out of the 2017 Tour de France on today's punishing Stage 12 in the Pyrenees, the German's five stage wins to date represent one of the most dominant display of sprinting prowess we've seen for years.

Kittel is clearly in fantastic form, but his cause has also been helped by the fact that three of his biggest sprint rivals, Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish and Arnaud Démare, are already out of the race.

As a result, Kittel has to be seen as the overwhelming favourite to win any stage that ends in a bunch sprint for the remainder of the race. So with almost half the Tour still to go, how many stages could he feasibly end up with by the time the race reaches Paris?

He doesn't have too many more chances, with far fewer flat stages in the second half of the race than the first – as is normal for the Tour. But Kittel still has three realistic opportunities remaining to add to his haul. Win all three and he’ll add his name to a select list of all-time greats to have won eight stages in a single Tour. 

Only three other riders have managed the feat: Charles Pélissier in 1930, Eddy Merckx in both 1970 and 1974, and most recently Freddy Maertens in 1976.

Here are the stages Kittel will be targeting for further success: 

Stage 16: Brioude – Romans-sur-Isère, 165km

Starting at altitude, the early part of this stage features a couple of medium difficulty climbs. Coming straight after the second rest day, the route’s profile definitely suits a long breakaway, but equally, a day's rest will allow Kittel and his Quick-Step lieutenants a chance their batteries and control the peloton. The stage finishes with 50 relatively flat kilometres, so assuming other teams are willing to help, Quick-Step could well set their German sprint machine up for a sixth stage win.

Stage 19: Embrun – Salon-de-Provence, 222.5km

The longest stage in this year’s Tour de France is another stage with a lumpy profile, and again could provide fertile territory for a breakaway. The main challenge for Kittel and his fellow sprinters will be keeping in contention over a fairly hard-looking 3rd category climb 45km from the finish line. If they do, Kittel will be perfectly placed for further sprint success.

Stage 21: Montgeron – Paris, 103km

The stage every sprinter dreams of winning, and surely one that's Kittel’s to lose. Short, flat, and with a breakaway almost never holding on to the end, the final drag down the Champs Elysees is the most prestigious non-mountain stage on any Tour and Kittel has already tasted success there twice before. So has André Greipel, it's worth mentioning, but Greipel has looked no match for Kittel on this year's Tour. Then again, neither has anyone else...