Patrick Lefevere says it's up to the other teams to make the race exciting and stop Marcel Kittel's sprint domination
Quick-Step Floors concede the Tour de France stages “are boring always with the same image” every day but they don’t mind because their sprinter Marcel Kittel keeps on winning.
The German sprinted first to Bergerac on stage 10, his fourth stage win in the 2017 Tour. With the win, he added more points to his lead in the green jersey competition.
“Tomorrow in Pau we won’t sprint, we make echelons because everyone says it’s boring!” general manager Patrick Lefevere said with a laugh.
“That’s not my fault [that Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan and Arnaud Démare are at home]. I think that this Kittel could even beat Cavendish. Last year, Cavendish beat us a few times, but with this Kittel, it’s another game.”
The Belgian boss says that the viewers must see the same thing when they turn on their televisions or stream the Tour de France. An escape riding by château after château, the inevitable catch and a Kittel win.
“The stages are boring because there’s always a break with two to four guys, and you always have the same image: Julien Vermote leads the group [for Quick-Step]. But we don’t make the Tour de France,” Lefevere continued.
“[The other teams] have to have balls to go the whole day in the break, from kilometre zero, and not everyone has this.”
If Kittel stage wins equal a boring Tour, Lefevere will welcome it. Stage 11 into Pau on Wednesday should produce another sprint, but the predicted winds may split the group.
“The riders make the Tour de France, you know that if BMC no longer has Richie Porte then Sky is happy. Just like Quick-Step with Kittel’s domination? Yes, of course.”
Kittel now counts 275 points in the green jersey competition with his four wins. Australian Michael Matthews (Sunweb) sits second with 173.
“It’s very important to see day by day and focus on getting points in the intermediates and end of sprints,” Kittel said. “Even at the end of stage 21, anything can go wrong.
“Mike Matthews was in a big break on Sunday, surviving two hors catégorie climbs and wins the intermediate sprint afterwards. There’s nothing I can do about it. He’s strong. I have to do my work in the flat stages, get the points here and hope it’s enough.”
Kittel comes in waves. In 2014, he won four stages, but after missing 2015, he only managed one sprint win in 2016. Again this year, he has four.
“I think I can say I’m the strongest Marcel at the moment. I never felt better, I’m in very good condition, that’s something that is a big achievement for me,” he added.
“To know that I did everything in a perfect way and the planning worked out, that’s also the difference in the years before.”