June 26, 2016 – Andre Greipel got one over his great sprint rival Marcel Kittel by winning the German Championships road race on Sunday. Just under a week from the start of the Tour de France, Greipel came out trumps in a battle between the two men to have dominated sprint finishes in the last three editions of the Tour.

AFP/Yuzuru Sunada

Greipel won the sprint to the line with 23-year-old Max Walscheid sandwiched between his two illustrious German compatriots at the end of a 215.8km ride around Erfurt. Kittel, 28, finished third but has showed this season he is back to his best following a 2015 campaign wrecked by illness and injury.

He won four stages in each of the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Tour before Greipel, 33, matched that feat last year. The Tour begins in Mont St Michel on Saturday with an opening stage that favors a bunch sprint finish. Kittel won the opening stage in 2013 and 2014.

The first week of the Grand Boucle offers five stages in which the sprinters could shine, meaning there will be opportunities for Greipel and Kittel not only to win stages but also pull on the race leader’s yellow jersey. Kittel donned the race leader’s jersey after his opening stage wins but Greipel has never before found himself in yellow, although he can boast 10 Tour stage wins to his compatriot’s eight.