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June 24, 2017

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Kittel dominates once again as Cavendish needs surgery

LONDON -- Marcel Kittel dominated another sprint finish at the Tour de France as his main rival Mark Cavendish discovered he needed surgery on his separated shoulder.

German Kittel was in a class of his own on the Tour de France's 155 km third stage from sunny Cambridge to drizzly London on Monday, once again winning a sprint finish.

Having also won the opening stage from Leeds to Harrogate, he proved too good for the competition as he held off Slovak Peter Sagan and Australian Mark Renshaw for the victory.

The 26-year-old Giant-Shimano rider said winning a stage in front of Buckingham Palace was almost as special as winning last year's final stage on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

"It was awesome, I'm really happy I could win this stage in front of Buckingham Palace. There were amazing crowds, great scenery, the team did a really good job which was a great advertisement for our lead-out train," said Kittel.

"It came pretty close to the Champs Elysees, I'm pretty sad that we'll finish only once here because it's a great atmosphere by the side of the road. It was one of the greatest finishes I've ever seen because of this great scenery."

But the ease with which he won his sixth Tour stage in total highlighted all the more the absence of Cavendish, who crashed in the sprint finish in Harrogate before abandoning the race before Sunday's second stage.

His Omega Pharma-Quick Step team said he will go under the knife to repair the ligaments in his shoulder joint on Wednesday and would be out of action for six weeks.

"It's worse than I was hoping but immediately after the crash I knew something was really wrong," Cavendish said.

"It is really painful, but at the moment all I can do is focus 100 percent of my effort on my recovery to be able to get back racing for Omega Pharma-Quick-Step as quickly as possible."

Kittel's rivals have been forced to battle out the minor placings so far but Frenchman Bryan Coquard, who finished fourth in both sprint finishes, believes there is a way to beat the big German.

"I think he's beatable. Last year he was beaten (at the Tour). OK, not yet this year but maybe that will come," said the 22-year-old Europcar sprinter.

"Last year I beat him at the Tour de Picardie so why not at the Tour de France!"

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