5 things to know about the Tour de France

The Associated Press
Sir Marcel? Kittel wins last UK stage of Tour

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LONDON (AP) -- After triumphing on the Champs-Elysees last year in Paris, Marcel Kittel won another royal sprint in front of Buckingham Palace on Monday, making clear to all other pretenders he is the new king of speed.

It was Kittel's second win in three stages after the powerful German opened his account last weekend in Harrogate when his biggest rival Mark Cavendish crashed out of the race.

Here are five things to know about Monday's Stage 3 of the Tour de France between Cambridge and London:


KITTEL DOES IT AGAIN: On wet and slippery roads, Kittel benefited from a perfect lead-out from his teammates at the end of the flat 155-kilometer (96-mile) stage between Cambridge and London.

After the peloton reined in the last breakaway rider, Kittel's Giant-Shimano outfit used its usual technique, hitting the front with four kilometers to go at very high speed. John Degenkolb and Roy Curvers led the way before Kittel overpowered Peter Sagan and Mark Renshaw to win by almost two bike lengths. It was Kittel's sixth career stage win in cycling's showpiece event.

''Kittel is incredibly strong and he won four stages but it seems he is even better this year and, when you see him sprinting, it's almost incredible, he just attacks and I hope he can keep it up,'' Kittel's teammate Koen de Kort said. ''We can be really happy, the whole team is working perfectly.''

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall leader's yellow jersey with a 2-second lead on the most likely contenders to win the three-week race, including Alberto Contador and defending champion Chris Froome.

The stage was marred by crashes, one of them involving 2010 champion Andy Schleck, who did a somersault after colliding with another rider.

''I was very unlucky, it was not even raining, it was a dry road, and one guy moved from the left to the right and I could not really avoid him and went straight down on the ground at high speed,'' Schleck said. ''I lost a bit of skin on the road. On the right side, on the arm, the hip and the ribs.''


A GLAMOROUS TOUCH: With cycling now popular among hipsters of all sorts, it might be fitting for fashion designer Paul Smith to get involved in the conception of the Tour de France jerseys.

The Briton, a lifelong cycling fan, designed the jerseys for the Giro d'Italia last year and could seal a similar deal with Tour organizers in the future.

''I think they are interested in doing it, but it depends on the sponsorship,'' Smith told The Associated Press on Monday in Cambridge.

Smith chatted with riders and took a selfie with Nibali at the start of Stage 3 then stopped at the Omega-Pharma QuickStep bus.

''Mark Cavendish is a close friend of mine, I also know Mark Renshaw and Tony Martin,'' Smith said. ''I know the guys from Sky too, I know Bradley (Wiggins) very well, they all come to see me in London. All of them wear my clothes.''

Smith's passion for cycling would not draw him into wearing lycra, though. ''Oh no, not for me!'' he insisted.



With 18 stages remaining before the peloton reaches the Champs Elysees, it's far too soon to be defending the yellow jersey. The fabled race leader's shirt brings glory, but also responsibility. Nibali's Astana team has made clear it will relinquish it very soon to let other teams control the race.

''We won't obviously try to defend the jersey,'' said Astana manager Alexandre Vinokourov. ''In Sheffield the other day, the main goal was to win the stage. The yellow jersey was just a bonus. This year the race will be won in the mountains and it would be a big mistake to try to keep it for three weeks. The only thing that matters is to have it in Paris.''

Monday's stage finish on The Mall also brought good memories to Vinokourov, who won the Olympic road race title in London two years ago.


UNDER THE SURGEON'S KNIFE: Mark Cavendish will have to undergo repairing surgery on his injured right shoulder and will be sidelined for at least six weeks.

The ''Manx Missile'' withdrew from the Tour after crashing badly in the finale of the first stage in Harrogate.

Cavendish underwent medical exams that revealed ruptured ligaments in his separated shoulder.

''It's actually the worse scenario for us,'' Cavendish's team manager Patrick Lefevere said in London. ''He will have surgery and is out for six weeks.''


A RIDE UNDER THE SEA: Defending Tour champion Chris Froome surely can climb. The Kenyan-born Briton also has unexpected abilities.

In June, Froome became the first person to ride through the Channel Tunnel in a time of about 55 minutes, covering 50 kilometers from the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone to Calais.

''This could be a really, really cool stage of a race,'' Froome said in a short film commemorating the feat, ''Team Sky - Cycling Under The Sea.''

Here is a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeOeZxWiryM


Follow Samuel Petrequin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sampetrequin

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