Argos-Shimano sprinter Marcel Kittel arrived at his first Tour de France touted as one of the men capable of matching Mark Cavendish in a bunch sprint.
However, the German was forced to withdraw from the race on Thursday after suffering from a stomach complaint, then a knee injury – but that still gave us enough time to photograph Kittel’s Felt F1.
The F1 is Felt’s flagship bike, equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, Dura-Ace C50 wheelset, SRM Powermeter, Selle Italia SLR Team Edition saddle, and a PRO Vibe seatpost and cockpit. The 24-year-old Kittel had recorded seven victories aboard the machine before the Tour de France, including two victories over Cavendish and Andre Greipel at the ZLM Toer.
See the little button on the drops? That’s Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 SW-7972 Sprint Shifter, which was introduced in 2011 and is designed for quick shifting while sprinting on the drops. As it turns out, Kittel’s disastrous Tour de France debut meant he failed to contest the bunch sprints on stages one and four.
We couldn’t help but smile when we spotted the huge PRO stem bearing the signature of one of the men Kittel was trying to beat – Mark Cavendish. The stem was designed in conjunction with the Manx Missile; the main body is made from carbon fibre, with an aluminium front clamp and top cap.
The beefy and super-stiff stem is huge; nearly as wide as my hand, in fact. It’s available in three lengths, with Kittel going for the 12cm option.
The Pro Continental team’s values are inscribed on the top tube: team spirit, inspiration, integrity, improvement and innovation. 1t4i refers to the team’s name – Project 1t4i – at the start of the season (they were previously known as Skil-Shimano), before a three-year sponsorship agreement was announced with the Argos North Sea Group ahead of the Tour of Flanders.