Winning a Grand Tour stage is incredibly hard, but sometimes the day after winning is even harder.

That’s what Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step) experienced after winning his first stage of the Vuelta a España back in 2011.

As a young whippersnapper, Kittel – then riding for Skil-Shimano – beat Peter Sagan and Oscar Freire to the line in Talavera de la Reina on stage six (technically the seventh stage, after a team prologue) of the Spanish race.

Kittel tells us that as soon as he raised his arms in victory the pressure to perform lifted off him, but he had put so much into that final sprint that he was still drained on the following day’s mountain stage.

Stage seven was a real battle of the climbers, with Joaquim Rodriguez coming out with the win, but Kittel didn’t enjoy it at all. In fact, he was the last rider to cross the line – 28 minutes down on the winner.

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The German and his teammates Albert Timmer and Tom Veelers were the final three riders home, six minutes behind the nearest other competitor.

Kittel is the first to admit that he doesn’t have much love for mountain stages, but this one sticks in his mind as his toughest ever day on the bike.

Read more about Kittel’s toughest day in the current Cycling Active magazine, out in shops now.