“Hectic and messy” is how Marcel Kittel described his winning sprint on stage one of the Tour of Britain in Liverpool.
The Giant-Shimano sprinter beat Italian Nico Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF) by half a bike-length with an injured Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma–QuickStep) settling for third in the 104km race.
But Kittel’s leadout was made complicated before a crash further down the peloton opened up an opportunity for team-mate Tom Veelers to set the German up.
He said: “It was pretty hectic and messy with the crash at one kilometre before the finish.
“We decided during the race to try and stay on the right side of the road. After the last right corner I thought it was a wrong decision because we were pretty far to the left and it was hard to get riders up through the right.
“Riders try to move up on the left and the right side and the road went to the left a bit and a lot of riders stayed on the right and that was when they crashed.
“Luckily after that crash we could move up and go to the front. Tom Veelers chose a really good moment to go right to the front. He timed it well to protect me from the wind so I could save myself for the sprint.”
Discussing Cavendish’s crash, Kittel said that such an incident “can affect your concentration and your focus.” He added: “If you have pain as well it’s not perfect but he still tried to sprint.”
Kittel is still not appreciative of teams only having six riders in the Tour of Britain, saying that it makes it difficult to control the race.
“It is difficult because when Mark crashed today we could only use a maximum of two guys in the wind (to wait for Cavendish but to control the breakaway). We were lucky that Sky helped us.
“If you have only two or three guys to pull it can be close with the breakaway.”
Manxman fell heavily after hitting Rapha Condor-JLT team car attempting to rejoin peloton after comfort break.
Mark Cavendish involved in crash during Tour of Britain opener; Marcel Kittel takes race lead