Marcel Kittel says Yorkshire roads will be "very dangerous" for Tour de France peloton (+ video)

Giant-Shimano sprinter predicts a nervous peloton will find it tough - plus video of brutal last climb on Stage 2

by Simon_MacMichael   April 24, 2014  

Marcel Kittel at 2014 Dubai Tour (picture ANSA, Angelo Carconi)

Giant Shimano sprinter Marcel Kittel, who won four stages at last year’s Tour de France, says he expects the opening two days of this year’s race to be “very dangerous” for the peloton.

The German was in Yorkshire with his team earlier this week to reconnoitre some of the route of Stages 1 and 2 which run, respectively, from Leeds to Harrogate and from York to Sheffield. There’s video below of them tackling the toughest gradient they will face in Yorkshire, at around 30 per cent on Sheffield’s Jenkin Road.

The opening days of any Tour de France are always fraught and crashes are inevitable. First-timers speak of their shock at the speed of the peloton, even compared to other major races.

There’s a fight to be near the front not only among the teams looking to contest the day’s sprint, but also those with GC contenders to protect and who don’t want his race to come to a premature end through an opening week crash, as happened to Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011.

Add that nervousness felt by 198 riders to some of the roads that the Tour will encounter on the opening two days and it’s a potent recipe for incidents to happen, as Kittel, who won the opening stage of last year’s race on Corsica acknowledges.

After one of his rides in Yorkshire this week, he told the BBC: "I think the roads are in some parts very dangerous for a peloton of the Tour de France.

"On the descents when you ride through the more lonely roads in the middle of nowhere they are very narrow and very small with stone walls on both sides, so [when] a very nervous Tour de France peloton fighting for the yellow jersey passes by there can be a very dangerous situation."

Kittel and his Giant-Shimano team, including John Degenkolb, weren’t just in Yorkshire to see the countryside. Here they are tackling the last of the climbs that feature in the finale of Stage 2 in Sheffield, a hill on a residential street charmingly referred to in the official race route as the Côte du Jenkin Road.

It’s short – 800 metres - but brutal, with a maximum gradient of 30 per cent, and it should be the setting of some fireworks come the afternoon of Sunday 6 July.

There’s much more here on VeloViewer about the climbs on the latter half of Stage 2, together with a rather arresting picture of Jenkin Road itself from Google Street View.

In the comments to that article, a cyclist who lives at the top and who rides to work most days says: "I have ridden up my road 5 times in 3 years, on the 4th time I got up without stopping, did it once more to prove it wasnt a fluke and go 5 miles out of my way to avoid it."

Let’s just say it looks tough. Very tough. We can’t wait to see the Tour tackle it.

A spokesman for Grand Départ organisers Le Tour Yorkshire told the BBC: "Yorkshire's two stages will undoubtedly test the world's best cyclists.

"They have been designed by the race organisers to provide a technical challenge to the peloton as befits the best cycle race in the world.

"We would encourage the other teams to follow in the footsteps of Giant-Shimano in coming to Yorkshire to recce the routes in advance so technically and tactically they are fully prepared come 5-6 July."

35 user comments

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Mark Cavendish will have a slightly better chance on the climbs given he is smaller than his sprinter competition, but it looks an absolutely bugger. I wouldn't want to try it unless I had triple crank with a 22 tooth on the front and 36 on the back Smile

posted by CXR94Di2 [228 posts]
24th April 2014 - 18:13

20 Likes

We'll have the dry stone walls removed just for you, Marcel... Rolling Eyes

Him Up North's picture

posted by Him Up North [238 posts]
24th April 2014 - 18:25

25 Likes

I remember watching the Kelloggs tour going up Rosedale chimney in about 1990. The back 25% of the peloton just walked up the bloody thing.

Felt quite reassuring

posted by gazza_d [270 posts]
24th April 2014 - 18:27

35 Likes

I'm lovin some of the new resurfaced roads spesh the Harewood to Otley road, nice run with a tailwind.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [239 posts]
24th April 2014 - 18:47

18 Likes

I miss cycling in Sheffield!

posted by chrisb87 [67 posts]
24th April 2014 - 19:46

14 Likes

Jenkin Road looks superb. Great finale. They're of course right about the dry stone walls on descents. It'll be carnage if there's a whip in pace on during parts of stage 1. I was quite surprised when the route was announced, but also had a sense of excitement that they're doing 'proper' Dales roads. Just hope nobody gets badly hurt - it never looks good!

minnellium's picture

posted by minnellium [79 posts]
24th April 2014 - 19:58

19 Likes

That looks brutal!!

Can't wait to see the level of gurning that hill will produce on Voecklers face.

BradleyNiggins's picture

posted by BradleyNiggins [7 posts]
24th April 2014 - 21:15

24 Likes

Well all I can say is if Cav makes yellow stage 1, he'll need a push up here Stage 2. Think I'll give this climb a wide berth.

posted by Roberj4 [202 posts]
24th April 2014 - 22:02

14 Likes

Don't forget these guys weren't racing up the climb, sightseeing. Be a complete different story come July. Wouldn't be surprised if someone does try for the win from here, it's only 5 kms to the finish, would suit Gilbert, or Gerrans!

Have you seen the name of the first climb on stage 2 'Côte de Blubberhouses',

posted by madonepro [34 posts]
25th April 2014 - 2:51

11 Likes

I just love it when the pro's, who are supposed to be the best in the world, complain about riding roads you and I ride on everyday. Especially when they have the advantage of closed roads with no other idiots heading in the opposite direction. Sorry guys that's what you get paid to do.

Oh by the way Mr Kittel, roads are not dangerous, it is the users that are dangerous. I'd be quite happy tootling of the pelaton if you want to give me your ride.

I do hope pro cyclist are not going the way of the rest of sport. If conditions are not perfect dummy get's spat out. Rule 5?

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [341 posts]
25th April 2014 - 7:43

16 Likes

Laughing

Comedy.

But he didn't say the roads were dangerous par se, but they are for a racing peleton.

"I think the roads are in some parts very dangerous for a peloton of the Tour de France.

"On the descents when you ride through the more lonely roads in the middle of nowhere they are very narrow and very small with stone walls on both sides, so [when] a very nervous Tour de France peloton fighting for the yellow jersey passes by there can be a very dangerous situation."

Seems reasonable, especially when considering some of the crashes we've already had this year, some on flat roads.

posted by Lifer [19 posts]
25th April 2014 - 8:10

23 Likes

Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
I just love it when the pro's, who are supposed to be the best in the world, complain about riding roads you and I ride on everyday. Especially when they have the advantage of closed roads with no other idiots heading in the opposite direction. Sorry guys that's what you get paid to do.

Oh by the way Mr Kittel, roads are not dangerous, it is the users that are dangerous. I'd be quite happy tootling of the pelaton if you want to give me your ride.

I do hope pro cyclist are not going the way of the rest of sport. If conditions are not perfect dummy get's spat out. Rule 5?

So you're not over-reacting at all then?

There's a bit of a difference between you or I riding that road, and a tightly-packed peloton of 200 riders going down it at 40mph. That was his point, not that the roads themselves are dangerous.

He's hardly spat his dummy out - he's simply given his opinion on the route after riding it. I don't see him saying he's not going to ride it unless they change the route.

posted by dp24 [195 posts]
25th April 2014 - 8:18

17 Likes

'Someone will get their bum felt '

Other than a reference to Sagan's podium antics, what on earth is that even meant to mean?

posted by andyp [1072 posts]
25th April 2014 - 8:44

12 Likes

Ewden Beck, 180 degree hairpin on a 25% gradient

On race day this is gonna be a corner to watch!

https://maps.google.co.uk/?ll=53.468239,-1.632392&spn=0.007881,0.015364&...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP3Bch8YjuY

posted by sfichele [109 posts]
25th April 2014 - 8:48

11 Likes

Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
I just love it when the pro's, who are supposed to be the best in the world, complain about riding roads you and I ride on everyday. Especially when they have the advantage of closed roads with no other idiots heading in the opposite direction. Sorry guys that's what you get paid to do.

Oh by the way Mr Kittel, roads are not dangerous, it is the users that are dangerous. I'd be quite happy tootling of the pelaton if you want to give me your ride.

I do hope pro cyclist are not going the way of the rest of sport. If conditions are not perfect dummy get's spat out. Rule 5?

Sheesh, there's a quare difference between 200 tightly packed nervous pro riders on the first couple of days of a tour hitting sections of the Yorkshire Dales at 40mph plus and you and I meandering around on our own on a Sunday morning.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1068 posts]
25th April 2014 - 8:55

14 Likes

sfichele wrote:
Ewden Beck, 180 degree hairpin on a 25% gradient

On race day this is gonna be a corner to watch!

https://maps.google.co.uk/?ll=53.468239,-1.632392&spn=0.007881,0.015364&...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP3Bch8YjuY

I rode that one last yr, just got up on my compact 34-27! If its wet with carbon rims it will carnage at the bottom by the bridge. Have they smoothed the road out cause i remember it being a bit lumpy and damp?

posted by Nzlucas [111 posts]
25th April 2014 - 9:46

11 Likes

They've resurfaced a lot of roads around the Strines, hopefully they've also resurfaced this section, otherwise it's bordering on a death trap. I'll head out that way some weekend to see if the road is any better.

posted by sfichele [109 posts]
25th April 2014 - 11:26

9 Likes

Gotta love Jenkin. When they announced that the route was going up there at the end, everyone winced in the same way people do when you get hit in the 'nads.

If that video didnt demonstrate it well enough, driving up it requires 2nd gear at points and if your car has a small engine / is particularly heavy, dont be surprised to use 1st gear.

The worst thing about this road is its gentile to start with and you almost start asking what all the fuss is about. Then it really begins. The only saving grace is its fairly short in length so shouldnt be too troublesome.

posted by tomawest [10 posts]
25th April 2014 - 12:25

19 Likes

No problems, this is just a bump on a normal commute for us 'ard northerners.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [239 posts]
25th April 2014 - 14:15

7 Likes

sfichele wrote:
Ewden Beck, 180 degree hairpin on a 25% gradient

On race day this is gonna be a corner to watch!

https://maps.google.co.uk/?ll=53.468239,-1.632392&spn=0.007881,0.015364&...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP3Bch8YjuY

Same stretch of road that Russ Downing & Tom Boonen had an off on the Tour of Britain a few years ago.

BITD I seem to remember Tommeke complaining about the same thing as Kittel.

The roads are steep twisty & narrow but at least the surface is in good nick thanks to le Tour coming to town.

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

badback's picture

posted by badback [276 posts]
25th April 2014 - 16:12

3 Likes

"I remember watching the Kelloggs tour going up Rosedale chimney in about 1990. The back 25% of the peloton just walked up the bloody thing."

Probably with a 42 - 21 though, they were harder back then...!

posted by Pauldmorgan [185 posts]
25th April 2014 - 19:35

5 Likes

I live near the Prudential/Olympic route which they have changed this year for almost exactly the reasons stated here. High banks and hedges on narrow lanes, single track in places. Dangerous even if you close the road but I still see individuals and small groups on there during the day with all the courier vans avoiding the bottlenecks in Guildford/Dorking, brick lorries and car transporters going to the businesses in Walliswood, builders vans and trucks to the big developments in Horsham and Crawley and today logging trucks working in the woods. Chuck in the Chelsea tractors going to the 6 or so private schools in these lanes, the commuter traffic coming up from Brighton and Worthing and at weekends the curse of the sat-nav (all the gear and no idea). At least if you guys are going to cycle here (and us locals don't cos it goes nowhere), please carry an organ donor card.

posted by bobdelamare [19 posts]
25th April 2014 - 19:37

6 Likes

BradleyNiggins wrote:
That looks brutal!!

Can't wait to see the level of gurning that hill will produce on Voecklers face.


One of my favourite moments from the last your was on the stage to Ax 3 Domains. Voeckler is gurning and weaving up a climb when Quintana, sat in the saddle, turning the pedals like a guy on a Sunday cake run, just cruises past him. Sadly can't find it on a Google image search.

I reckon on a 30% gradient he might be able to turn his face completely inside-out.

posted by SteppenHerring [230 posts]
25th April 2014 - 19:43

5 Likes

Someone called that little hill brutal.

posted by dogcc [124 posts]
25th April 2014 - 19:55

4 Likes

Is Kittel related to the Schecks? Apply rule number 5. Beryl Burton must be laughing at this....

posted by Twenty2one [3 posts]
25th April 2014 - 20:35

7 Likes

andyp wrote:
'Someone will get their bum felt '

Other than a reference to Sagan's podium antics, what on earth is that even meant to mean?

Thought someone might have replied by now, but I think it means a helping hand up the hill.

posted by madonepro [34 posts]
26th April 2014 - 6:08

4 Likes

Applause

madonepro wrote:
andyp wrote:
'Someone will get their bum felt '

Other than a reference to Sagan's podium antics, what on earth is that even meant to mean?

Thought someone might have replied by now, but I think it means a helping hand up the hill.

It means getting your arse kicked, but sounds more sinister.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [673 posts]
26th April 2014 - 7:47

1 Like

The farmers can make a killing here, providing hundreds of miles of straw bales to protect them dry stone walls.
Probably none left standing anyway, after millions of spectators have climbed on them to get a view!
That's what's worrying Yorkshire folk, according to BBC television news this morning.

posted by Condor flyer [25 posts]
26th April 2014 - 12:13

1 Like

Is every other Yorkshireman giggling after reading that?

The Yorkshire stages were planned in consultation with the Downing brothers who know the area pretty well living close to the finish of stage two. I'm sure Mr K will be fine when he visits bless his cotton socks, true sports man getting a few excuses in the bag before the race starts though.

I guess he isn't riding the Giro this year? Now that's a scary race!

My only fear in life is that in the event of my death, my wife will sell my bikes for what she thinks we paid for them.

posted by Velo-Chris [18 posts]
26th April 2014 - 13:35

1 Like

CXR94Di2 wrote:
I wouldn't want to try it unless I had triple crank with a 22 tooth on the front and 36 on the back Smile

Worried

posted by alexholt3 [52 posts]
28th April 2014 - 10:15

0 Likes