High-five for Kittel as he wins again

High-five for Kittel as he wins again

High-five for Kittel as he wins again

Marcel Kittel powered to a fifth stage victory of the 2017 Tour de France as the German prevailed in another sprint finish in Pau.

Chris Froome dodged crashes in the pack to retain his overall lead in the Tour de France before the race heads back to the mountains on Thursday.

Kittel's searing acceleration again proved too much at the end of the crash-plagued 203.5km run from Eymet, flying past Dylan Groenewegen and Edvald Boasson Hagen to strike what is become a familiar winning salute.

Norway's Boasson Hagen was the first of the sprinters to launch his sprint, charging towards the line on the right side of the road, but despite an impressive effort, he had to see Kittel overtake him and win the stage.

This stage will be revealed if Astana Team Fabio Aru, just 18 seconds behind, is the main rival of Froome.

That's not to say that Froome will win the stage - he has said he might ride defensively - but at the odds he is the most attractive of the trio.

After snatching 50 more points at the finish line, Kittel has led Australian Michael Matthews by 133 points for the sprinters green jersey.

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That was halved over the next 10 kilometres on the way into Pau, which as the gateway to the western Pyrenees is one of the most visited cities in the race's 114-year history.

"I nearly can not believe what's happening here at the Tour". "I'm hoping to hit the last week in the best shape I've ever been", commented Froome.

"In stages like today and yesterday, it's hard to say if I'm in the shape I want to or not because it's just about cruising in the bunch".

"It's incredible because. you know sometimes when you're on your top level in the sprints, it's like playing Tetris", Kittel said.

Bouhanni was later fined 200 Swiss francs ($207) and given a one-minute penalty in the general classification for "assault", the race jury said without elaborating.

The Tour kicks off in the Pyrenees on Stage 12 which covers 214.5 km with six category climbs. There will be a twist this time around with the stage finishing on the Peyresourde-Balestas airfield, which was used in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.

While the peloton headed towards the Pyrenees, 2012 Tour victor Sir Bradley Wiggins was on the other side of France ready for Thursday's gathering on Mont Ventoux to remember Tom Simpson on the 50th anniversary of his death during the 1967 race.

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