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Kittel notches 2nd straight stage win in photo finish
December 16 2017, 10:39 | Van Peters
Fabio Aru claimed his maiden Tour de France win in Paris
Kittel looked to be struggling in the final dash for the line as he failed to grab a wheel, but an 11th Tour stage win was secured in typically explosive fashion to mark a good day for the 29-year-old.
They will be further tested on Sunday, when the ninth stage takes the peloton through the Jura mountains with three lung-busting climbs in prospect before a unsafe descent to Chambery.
First Froome 1.7km out and then Richie Porte in the final kilometre counter-attacked behind but it was Ireland's Martin who took second place to move up to fourth overall at 25sec.
Appropriately in a land where wine-making and tasting is a way of life, Kittel's second stage in two days was won by a nose.
"I was really confident in my team", Kittel said.
There was no change at the top of the General Classification, with defending champion Chris Froome of Team Sky continuing to lead the race by 12 seconds from team mate Geraint Thomas.
Friday is "another long day and I think the aim of that is just to sap the energy a bit", Porte said.
Sky, however, had better be ready for the remainder of the Tour as Aru appeared to be able to pierce their armour when he launched a blistering attack on Wednesday and rode solo to victory in the fifth stage.
Back in 2010, Thomas was also lying second overall when the Tour last tackled the Station des Rousses ascent, which - he admitted with a grin - "I didn't even know was the same one that we'll be going up tomorrow".
So it's easy to see why so many are thinking it will be interesting to see just how the Mont du Chat is raced this time. "I've never been up there myself so I can't say what it would be like but if the Norwegian fans are anything to go by they would certainly give the Tour what it deserves in terms of a Grand Depart". Three climbs on the 116-mile route will serve as a warm-up for the extremely tough Stage 9 in the Alps on Sunday, which has seven climbs, including three with the "hors categorie" or beyond rating. The weather forecast for the weekend is rainstorms, which is going to make things even more hard.
As always, the pace increased heading towards the mid-stage intermediate sprint as the sprint teams fought to get their fast men into position to earn extra points towards the green jersey competition.
Dan is now fourth overall at 25 seconds, so there is the possibility we could have an Irishman in yellow by Sunday.