SERRE-CHEVALIER (France) • Marcel Kittel quit the Tour de France yesterday after a crash on the 17th stage in the Alps from La Mure to Serre-Chevalier.
The German was leading the sprinters' green jersey competition at the time he abandoned, having won five stages so far.
"Another sad news: Green jersey @marcelkittel, and winner of five #TDF2017 stages, has stopped at the top of Col de la Croix de Fer," said his Quick-Step team on Twitter.
What had been a hugely successful Tour quickly turned sour as the 29-year-old crashed 20km into yesterday's 183km stage. He was cut and bloodied and even needed to change a shoe while hanging onto his team car.
The peloton led by race leader Chris Froome of Team Sky waited for Kittel but once the climbing began with the second category Col d'Ornon, Kittel started to lose touch with the bunch. By the 24km long hors category Col de la Croix de Fer just over 100km from the finish, the sprint star was losing serious ground so he quit.
"We might not have Paris, but we'll always have these fantastic wins! Thank you, @marcelkittel!" added Quick-Step.
Kittel had taken his personal total to 14 Tour stage wins, overtaking the record mark of 12 by a German that Erik Zabel managed.
He had held a 128-point lead over Michael Matthews in the green jersey competition and looked likely to win that. But Matthews whittled down that lead to 29 points over the past four days and by winning yesterday's intermediate sprint, he moved to nine points behind Kittel.
The German would still have been expected to win the jersey with two likely flat stage sprints to come but Matthews could have taken it off him on today's stage with 20 points up for grab in the intermediate sprint there.
As it is, the Australian will now wear the green jersey today and with a 160-point lead over German Andre Greipel, he is almost certain to win it if he reaches Paris.
Primoz Roglic of LottoNL-Jumbo won the 17th stage. Froome came home third to stretch his lead to 27 seconds as Rigoberto Uran moved up to second.
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