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

An obvious strength for both, of course, is the way they read the sprint. Speed alone, of which they both have plenty, will only take you so far.

Indeed, Cavendish admitted himself after his final success in Turkey – having been outdone by Elia Viviani (Cannondale) the day before – that his best attribute is his ‘jump’.

Mark Cavendish continued his fine start to the season with stage one victory at the Tour of California (pic: Tim de Waele/OPQS)

At lower speeds, Cavendish’s acceleration is simply unparalleled and he has won from way back on occasions as a result too – see last year’s Tour of Britain, for example, or his astonishing victory on stage 18 of the 2012 Tour de France.

With Kittel, it is his resilience – on both stages of the Giro so far he has appeared second best at times in the final sprint.

But he keeps on pressing, picks the wheels to follow, and finds the right lines with unnerving regularity. And when he is forced to go it alone, as was the case on the third stage of the Giro, he has the willpower to succeed.

Nevertheless, when the winds pick up he still appears to remain vulnerable – suffering at the Tour Down Under for example, and again at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Cavendish, by contrast, can read echelons like the best of them – indeed, he was part of the leading group which briefly formed in California on stage one.

It’s like falling through ice, he has said in the past – you get one chance to get it right, and that one chance seems to be all Cavendish requires.

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