Germany’s Marcel Kittel won a sprint to the line on stage 10 to claim his fourth victory of this year’s Tour de France, as Britain’s Chris Froome retained the leader’s yellow jersey.
Kittel finished ahead of compatriot John Degenkolb, with Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen third on Tuesday’s 178km stage from Perigueux to Bergerac.
It was the 29-year-old’s 13th Tour stage win, taking him one ahead of Erik Zabel’s German record of 12.
Froome claimed his 50th yellow jersey.
French pair Elie Gesbert and Yoann Offredo launched an early break, but their lead of more than five minutes was reined in with a little under 7km to go.
Kittel’s power in the bunch sprint could not be matched, as the Quick-Step Floors rider beat Degenkolb by more than a bike length to extend his lead in the points classification.
‘Super happy’ Kittel looks unbeatable
Degenkolb said after the stage that Kittel was from “another planet” and he certainly seems peerless in the race this year, winning four of the five bunch sprints he has contested.
Kittel found the wheel of Britain’s Dan McLay close to the finish and catapulted beyond his rivals with such ease that he was able to raise his arms in victory salute as he crossed the line.
The 29-year-old also won four stages in 2013 and 2014 but looks well placed to beat his previous best – and could even achieve that on Wednesday with another sprint finish expected at the end of the road to Pau.
Mark Cavendish, who crashed out of this year’s race after tangling with Peter Sagan, won six stages in 2009 and it is very possible that Kittel could at least equal that tally given he has also won twice previously on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
“I can’t really believe it,” Kittel told ITV4. “To win four in one Tour, it is super nice. I’m really, really happy.
“I feel like I live in a small little bubble in a small little world and it cannot be true.”
The victory for Kittel saw him extend his lead at the top of the sprinters’ green jersey standing to 102 points over Australia’s Michael Matthews.
Froome stays in yellow for the 50th time
The race resumed on Tuesday after the rest day and it was arguably the most pedestrian and incident-free stage so far.
Froome could be seen happily chatting to other riders as the main group criss-crossed the Dordogne on the road to Bergerac and there were no alarms for the Team Sky rider, who ended by claiming the 50th yellow jersey of his career after finishing in the bunch.
“It was quite relaxed as far as Tour de France flat stages go,” said Froome. “It is another day out of the way.”
There was no change at the top of the general classification standings. Briton Simon Yates retains the white jersey worn by the best rider under 25 and Frenchman Warren Barguil kept the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey.
Another sprint finish on Wednesday?
The Pyrenees loom on the horizon – the race gets there on Thursday – but it should be another day for a bunch sprint on Wednesday.
The stage takes us 203.5km from o Pau and with one intermediate sprint and one category four climb.
Would anyone bet against another win for Kittel right now?
Stage 10 result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Quick-Step Floors) 4hrs 1min
2. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo) Same Time
3. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo)
4. Ruediger Selig (Ger/BORA-hansgrohe)
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha-Alpecin)
6. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra/Cofidis)
7. Daniel McLay (GB/ Fortuneo-Oscaro)
8. Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
9. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita/Bahrain-Merida)
10. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Team Dimension Data)
General classification after stage 10:
1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 42hrs 27mins 29secs
2. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana Pro Team) +18secs
3. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +51secs
4. Rigoberto Uran (Col/Cannondale-Drapac) +55secs
5. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana Pro Team) +1min 37secs
6. Daniel Martin (Ire/Quick-Step Floors) +1min 44secs
7. Simon Yates (GB/Orica-Scott) +2min 02secs
8. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar Team) +2min 13secs
9. Mikel Landa (Spa/Team Sky) +3min 06secs
10. George Bennett (NZ/LottoNL-Jumbo) +3min 53secs