Marcel Kittel has no serious challenger for the King of the Sprint title at this year's Tour de France.

The German sprinter won the 10th stage with remarkable ease this morning, while Chris Froome stayed safely in the main pack to retain the race leader's yellow jersey.

Kittel perfectly timed his effort in the final straight to post his fourth stage win since the start of the race, crossing the line ahead of fellow German John Degenkolb.

The stage took the peloton on a flat, 178km run from Perigueux to Bergerac in southwestern France.


Froome, the three-time Tour champion, will be wear the yellow jersey for the 50th time tonight (NZT), joining five-time Tour winner Jacques Anquetil in fourth place on the all-time list, behind Eddy Merckx (96), Bernard Hinault (75), and Miguel Indurain (60).

"A huge, huge honour," the British rider said of the 50 days in yellow.

Kittel was in 10th place, after negotiating the two sharp corners of a challenging final kilometre, before turning on the power to surge ahead of his rivals with 150 metres left and securing his 13th career win on the Tour.

He won by a bike's length and had plenty of time to raise his arms in celebration, before crossing the line.

Kittel said his confidence was high after his string of victories.

"I know now from the last sprints that I can hold that speed to the finish-line," he said. "I almost cannot believe what's happening here at the Tour."

Dutch rider Dylan Groenewegen completed the podium in the medieval town.

With Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan and Arnaud Demare out of the race, Kittel strengthened his grip on the best sprinter's green jersey. French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, who had to settle for a sixth-place finish, acknowledged Kittel's superiority.

‪Victories create great moments, and this probably is the funniest victory dinner celebration you'll see this year! #TDF2017

Posted by Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team on Tuesday, 11 July 2017

"Kittel was the strongest, he came from behind," Bouhanni said. "He won four sprints out of five, he is the best sprinter of this Tour."

Bouhanni was later fined 200 Swiss francs ($207) and given a one-minute penalty in the general classification for "assault," the race jury said without elaborating. Video footage shows the French rider elbowing an rider from the Quick-Step Floors team, identified as Kiwi Jack Bauer by commentators, toward the end of the stage.

After a plane journey across France and a rest day, the race resumed in Perigueux for a flat ride through the lush landscapes of the Dordogne province in southwestern France.

Following a hectic stage in the Jura on Sunday and with two hard stages in the Pyrenees mountains later this week, Froome and his main rivals were happy to let two French riders with no ambitions for the overall race lead escape from the pack.

Yoann Offredo went on his own immediately after the race director waved the flag to signal the start. He was joined soon afterward by Elie Gesbert, the youngest rider in the peloton at 22 years old, and the pair quickly opened a gap.

Their lead stabilised at about five minutes, as the peloton moved past the Lascaux cave, a prehistoric World Heritage site featuring some superb hunting scenes. Second-place Fabio Aru was all smiles near Domme - a picturesque town perched on a breathtaking cliff above the Dordogne river - and shook hands with another rider at a pedestrian pace.

"We chatted, admired the countryside - it was very pleasant," Warren Barguil said, summing up the day.

Towards the end, the sprinters' teams organised the chase, reducing the deficit of the peloton to a little more than two minutes with 40 kilometres left.

Offredo and Gesbert fought hard until the end, but were hampered by a strong headwind and were caught seven kilometres from the finish.

There was no major change in the overall standings, with Aru still trailing by 18 seconds behind Froome and Frenchman Romain Bardet in third place, 51 seconds back.

Kiwi George Bennett remains in 10th, 3min 53sec behind Froome.

All four Kiwis finished with the peleton today, losing no time against the leaders, with rookie Dion Smith was officially the first home in 20th.

"It was a more quiet day today, without wind, no stress," Froome said. "I'm already thinking about the Pyrenees.

"It's the next big goal, I'll need to be ready."

Wednesday's stage is a flat and long 203.5km route from Eymet to Pau. It will be another day for the sprinters, before a mountain marathon of more than 200km the next day.

Froome said Friday's stage could be decisive and the next big battle between the contenders for overall victory.

"In the past, we have seen Grand Tours shaped by these stages before," he said. "That could be another day that could be decisive in this year's Tour."