Category: Marcel Kittel

Tirreno-Adriatico, stage 6: Kittel wins ahead of remarkable Sagan

Second place was perhaps the most impressive result in stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico Monday. Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) earned the

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Marcel Kittel could finally make Milano-Sanremo debut

Marcel Kittel says he will decide after Tirreno-Adriatico whether to line up at Milano-Sanremo for the first time.

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Kittel not nervous, says ‘It’s still February’

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (VN) — German sprinter Marcel Kittel says he isn’t bothered yet by rivals’ wins and his lack of them, so far in 2018.

Katusha-Alpecin’s new sprinter has yet to score for his team in 2018, while most all of the other top sprinters, from Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) to Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), have given their team’s wins.

“When I look at my watch, it’s still February and we still have seven months of the season to go and 70 race days,” Kittel said. “There are many chances to go for victories.

“This is a development. We are taking time for ourselves and this is very important. I enjoy the process although sometimes it’s disappointing. But we want to develop our leadout to the world’s best.”

Sprint winners already include Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates).

After racing the Dubai Tour and the first two stages of the Abu Dhabi Tour, the 14-time Tour de France stage winner first looked capable of victory in stage three at Al Marina. He started late and surged quickly up the right and appeared to win. However, it was not to be, as Phil Bauhaus (Sunweb) held him from his first of 2018.

Kittel still celebrated as if it was a win when the judges were analyzing the photo-finish. “Win or second place,” he told his teammates, “you did a great job today.

“It’s a successful small step, but it was just too late,” Kittel continued to journalists in the late afternoon sun along the shore. “It’s just unfortunate, but we will still have a beer tonight.”

Kittel rode with iterations of the Team Sunweb program for five years before switching to Quick-Step Floors in 2016. Besides his stage wins, he wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France twice by beating the best at their top fitness.

This winter, teams shuffled the decks. Kittel went to Katusha-Alpecin with Elia Viviani joining Quick-Step Floors from Sky. Katusha had space with Alexander Kristoff signing for UAE Team Emirates.

“It sounds always easy,” Kittel said. “A good sprinter like [me] and a leadout train from Katusha-Alpecin, and now you just have to ride together and we are going to win a million races this year, but that’s not how it works.

“We have to find a way to work together. Since we started in Dubai, we were getting better every day. You don’t always see results, but today we were at the point where we can say it’s progress and we can be proud of that.

“The team is motivated every day. I have huge respect for the boys. You want to go for the win and almost every time, it’s a defeat, but you have to get up and go again at the next chance. That’s what we are doing.”

Kittel now looks to Europe for his next chance at victory. The Abu Dhabi Tour continues with a time trial Saturday and a summit stage on Sunday, not days for the German-powerhouse sprinter.

Next up for Kittel, is Paris-Nice in mid-March and he may finally match his rivals and open his 2018 account.

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Abu Dhabi, stage 3: Bauhaus tops fellow Germans in sprint

German sprinter Phil Bauhaus topped two of his countrymen in the third stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour Friday.

The Team Sunweb rider out-sprinted Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) at the finish line of the 133-kilometer stage that took place on a circuit around Abu Dhabi.

“My goal here was to go for a podium or take a win, so it’s really nice to be able to achieve that against such a super strong field,” Bauhaus said. “It’s always hard to get the first win of the season and get the ball rolling, especially after such an unlucky day here yesterday. I hope we can continue like this into tomorrow and Sunday, where we have a lot of cards to play.”

Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) maintained his grip on the overall race lead after finishing fourth on Friday. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Bauhaus are second and third overall, both 3 seconds behind Viviani.

“We did a good job again as a team with lead-out men Alvaro Hodeg and Fabio Sabatini,” Viviani said. “We came out of the last corner at the front. But in this Abu Dhabi Tour, the wind is always a factor. It was another headwind sprint. Bauhaus had the strength to come from the back. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, we have to accept it. However, I’m happy with my team again today.”

Saturday’s stage 4 is a 12.6km time trial on Al Maryah Island.

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Kittel and Katusha-Alpecin work out the kinks in Dubai

Marcel Kittel would love a hat-trick of overall wins at the Dubai Tour, but this year, the priority is settling in with his new team, Katusha-Alpecin.

After two years with Quick-Step Floors, Kittel made the jump to Katusha-Alpecin this offseason. He got his 2018 campaign underway Tuesday at the Dubai Tour, where he is the two-time defending champion. Surrounded by a new supporting cast, Kittel is making the most of a chance to test his sprint train.

“For me, this is the race where it’s no problem if things go wrong. We are here to see how good we are, where we stand,” he told a small group of journalists in Dubai on Monday.

“Maybe everything works well, we work together, and it feels like we’ve been doing it for years. Or maybe things go really wrong and we really have to talk, but that’s no stress.”

Katusha had a presence at the front in the finale of Tuesday’s opening stage. So did Kittel’s former Quick-Step teammates. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), however, emerged victorious in stage 1. Kittel finished outside the top 10. Perhaps there is still work to be done, but now is the perfect time to do it, before the high-pressure atmosphere of the grand tours.

For Kittel, working to form a successful sprint train begins off the bike. The 29-year-old says it’s all about connecting on a personal level with the riders who must work tirelessly on his behalf.

“It’s not even about cycling. It’s about knowing how the group works. What they think is funny. How they talk with each other. How they act with each other,” he said. “I’ll find my spot in that group first of all, and then continue from there with training, riding your bike, speaking about finishes.

“Everyone knows what he can do on the bike. It’s that time you spend off the bike together which is first of all much more time than what you have on the bike together, and where you need to come along.”

At least when it comes to that critical part of building relationships, Kittel says he is making good headway early on.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing,” he joked, “but I roomed with Marco Haller for two nights and it felt like we were already together for six years in the team. We had a really good connection with the other guys from the main lead-out that you already have in mind, like Rick [Zabel], or Nils [Politt], or Alex [Dowsett], or Tony [Martin] of course I know already.”

It helps that Kittel’s new teammates know a thing or two about lead-outs. Alexander Kristoff — now with UAE Team Emirates — often enjoyed the luxury of having several Katusha teammates setting the tempo just in front of him at the pointy end of races.

“If you look to the sprint stages from ’17, you will see that it was the Katusha guys that kept the speed high, who did a really good job in the final,” Kittel pointed out. “When it comes down to that, I have really good guys on my side like Marco [Haller]. The Tour team is a good example, but also other guys that can really sprint well, that have an eye for it. ”

Kittel noted that beyond the different personalities and qualities of the individual teammates, much remains the same from one squad to the next. It’s not especially difficult to get comfortable in a new team.

“Every team has a bit of a different structure, how they are organized, how they run things,” he said. “That’s never the same in the team but in general, I have to say, with the riders, of course, there’s new people but we’re still sitting on our bikes. We’re doing training camps in Spain. I’m still complaining about the hilly rides. So it’s all the same.”

Even if he did notice any big changes between squads, Kittel won’t go into details. He prefers to “not compare teams.” Indeed, although several sprinters switched teams this off-season, commenting on the game of musical sprinting chairs isn’t of interest to Kittel.

Last fall he left Quick-Step on good terms, and this week had nothing but nice things to say about both his old teammates and his new ones. Kittel has now ridden for three different teams since 2015, and he won big with each.

“It’s just our business. It’s the way of professional cycling,” he said of his journey from Giant-Alpecin to Quick-Step to Katusha. “You’re going to change teams sometimes. Here at this race, we all come together, and of course, we all want to go for the victory. Your professional career, your life, whatever, it always involves changes. That’s how I see it.”

This week should present several more opportunities to go for those victories and to make improvements to the sprint train. The only noteworthy climb in the five-day race is the low-caliber ascent to Hatta Dam on stage 4, which was canceled in 2017, opening the door for Kittel’s second overall win. Wednesday is another chance to go back to the drawing board. So are Thursday and Saturday.

This summer, Kittel will hope to top last year’s excellent run of five stage wins at the Tour de France. That may seem a long way off now, but time spent working out the early kinks in February could make all the difference come July.

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Kittel leaves Quick-Step for Katusha

Sprint star Marcel Kittel will depart Belgian squad Quick-Step Floors and head to Katusha-Alpecin for 2018 and 2019, the Russian team announced on Wednesday.

The news comes one week after Quick-Step renewed its contract with up-and-coming sprinter Fernando Gaviria, and just days after Katusha’s sprinter Alexander Kristoff announced his plans to ride for team UAE in 2018.

“I am looking forward to racing with the team and especially with Tony [Martin] and some of the other German riders,” Kittel wrote on his personal website.

Kittel, 29, had an outstanding 2017 Tour de France, winning five stages last month and holding the sprinters’ green jersey for 12 days before being forced to withdraw from the race after a crash on the 17th stage in the Alps. The German ace said he made the move to Katusha in part because of Quick-Step’s dedication to Gaviria, who won four stages of this year’s Giro d’Italia. The 22-year-old Colombian will likely ride the 2018 Tour de France, which could put Quick-Step in a position to choose which sprinter to take.

Kittel said Quick-Step management could not guarantee that he—and not Gaviria—would be the team sprinter for the Tour de France.

“The team management could not give me a definite answer and I can understand that,” Kittel said. “After Fernando Gaviria won four stages of the Giro, he will of course also want to be at the start of the Tour.”

The move to Katusha is a logical one for the German sprinter. The Russian squad has a German co-sponsor in Alpecin, and its roster already includes multiple German riders, such as Tony Martin, Rick Zabel, Nils Politt, and Marco Haller. Those four riders also feature prominently in the team’s sprint train.

“I look forward to the new challenge and—especially great—a totally German team for the sprints,” Kittel wrote.

Co-sponsor Alpecin makes hair care products, including a line of caffeinated shampoo. Kittel, who sports a vertical blond coif hairstyle, has the description “I love speed, sprinting, and hair” in his Twitter bio.

Kittel thanked his previous employers for helping him recover from a virus that plagued him in 2015 and saw him miss that year’s Tour de France due to poor form.

“I got some great support over the last two years and was able to get back to my previous best after my horror year in 2015,” he added.

His five wins this year made him the most successful German stage winner in the world’s most prestigious bike race. Kittel will be linking up with Martin again after the pair raced together for the German-based Energie Team 10 years ago as juniors, while they also spent last season together at Quick-Step.

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Some of the heroes of this year’s Tour de France by Horst Brozy

Some of the heroes of this year’s Tour de France by Horst Brozy

gentlemandomestique: Tour Talk: Chapeau on a hard fought tour…


Tour Talk: Chapeau on a hard fought tour Marcel. We will miss you. ?Tim De Waele

Waiting for next year’s TDF like…

Waiting for next year’s TDF like…

Waiting for next year’s TDF like…

Waiting for next year’s TDF like…