Mark Cavendish may be aiming to win the first stage of the Tour de France from Leeds to Harrogate to claim the race leader’s yellow jersey for the first time in his glittering career next weekend but there is arguably one rider the ‘Manx Missile’ needs to be wary of them any other – Marcel Kittel.
Few outside of the world of cycling may not have been aware of the 26-year-old German prior to last year’s Tour but he forced himself onto the global sporting consciousness in stunning fashion by winning four stages and book-ending the race in perfect fashion.
The Team Giant-Shimano rider claimed yellow by winning the opening stage and then after clinching stages ten and 12, he ended Cavendish’s four-year dominance on the Champs-Elysees with victory on the final stage in Paris to finish fourth overall in the green jersey points standings.
This will be Kittel’s third Tour – he was forced out during the fifth stage in 2012 due to illness – and he will be spearheading what his team have dubbed their ‘Pure Sprint Formation’.
A winner of three consecutive stages at the 2014 Tour of Dubai, Kittel was given his first taste of the Giro d’Italia earlier this year and took his number of ‘Grand Tour’ stage victories to seven by tasting victory on stages two and three.