Mark Cavendish vs Marcel Kittel: sprinters in top form as Tour de France draws nearer

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Mark Cavendish vs Marcel Kittel: sprinters in top form as Tour de France draws nearer

Rivals flying in preparation for Harrogate yellow jersey battle

It is hard not to be impressed by the two fast men whenever they sprint to victory.

The vision they have in the chaos in the sprint, the gaps they can find, the timing of their attacks – it is sprinting at its very best.

Mark Cavendish was in scintillating form at the Tour of Turkey. pic: Tim de Waele/OPQS

It is not just in the final 200 metres or so where they come to life either, contrary to some critics’ belief – with some of their wins coming courtesy of some phenomenally strong rides.

Kittel, on the one ‘hilly’ stage of an otherwise pan-flat Dubai Tour, stayed in touch with the likes of Rui Costa as they looked to open the race on the moderate climbs towards the end of the stage.

And when the finish line approached, he burst from the bunch to storm to a phenomenal victory, devoid of his lead-out train.

On the other hand, stage three of the Giro d’Italia saw him win in style with a huge sprinting effort from way back to overcome a deficit of almost four bike lengths on Ben Swift – a bid for victory he described later as an attack, rather than a sprint.

The effort it took was visible to all, and required him to dig very deep into his sprinting armoury, joking afterwards of the effect it had on his legs.

For Cavendish, meanwhile, his win in Tirreno-Adriatico was the epitome of a sprint train clicking into gear perfectly.

Marcel Kittel celebrated his 26th birthday by winning the second stage of the 2014 Giro d’Italia. pic: ©Sirotti

Individually, his most recent success saw him at his very best to deny Kittel’s team-mate John Degenkolb.

With Alessandro Petacchi at the Giro, and Mark Renshaw puncturing, Cav had to go it alone without his two main lead-out men, and from a long way back too.

But he picked the line perfectly and, having left it not a moment too late to attack, won by the narrowest of margins.

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