Marcel Kittel has expressed his “disappointment” after a crash forced him out of the Tour de France on stage 17, and ended his chances of winning a maiden green jersey.
The Quick-Step Floors rider crashed in the first 20km of the savage mountain stage in the Alps and suffered abrasions to his back and a swollen hip. The German was unable to continue and abandoned soon after.
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
The 29-year-old, who won five stages during this edition of the Tour to take his career record to 14, was downcast when speaking to the media after the finish in Serre-Chevalier.
“I can say I’m very disappointed,” he said. “I don’t know how to describe my feelings at the moment.
“To go home with five stage victories is an exceptional result but to go home after a crash and without arriving in Paris is a disappointment.
“So I will take some time to recover and I’m sure the ride and joy of the success we had here will be more than the disappointment.”
Catch up on the highlights of stage 17
Kittel had been struggling with minor illness in the past few days, and believes that had he not crashed, he would have been able to ride to the finish.
But the crash compounded his already fragile condition and meant that continuing proved beyond reach. “I think I had a fair chance at least [if he wasn’t ill] but it would have been a tough day anyway, so to be in the grupetto was possible but with the crash, that extra percentage you lose again.
“I couldn’t do anything,” he said of the race-ending crash. “I just fell and woke up on the road again and tried to get back on the bike as quickly as possible.
“I was more or less lucky with my injuries. I lost quite a lot of skin on my back and my hip was swollen, plus pedalling was quite painful from the crash. I think, well I hope, nothing is broken”
Asked by Cycling Weekly if he felt he would have won the green jersey from Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), he refused to answer. Matthews is now in the lead of the maillot verte points classification.
Preferring to reflect on his success this July, he added: “There are five personal highlights. I think those stage wins are a very positive things, as well as the success that we celebrate as a team.”