Marcel Kittel won his first race of the year, the People's Choice Classic around the streets of Adelaide, before winning three stages of the Dubai Tour, Scheldeprijs and looked dangerous at the Ster ZLM Toer, winning a stage. Therefore I feel I must say...Wait! Those were last year's results!
Marcel Kittel won his first race of the year, the People's Choice Classic around the streets of Adelaide, before getting dropped on all but one of the stages of the following Tour Down Under, and not sprinting that day. When he moved on to the Tour of Qatar, he was a no-show, not finishing in the top 50 on a single day. He DNF'd on the first stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. He was not a factor in the World Ports Classic or the Ster ZLM Toer, his best result since January being sixth in the Rund um Koln, finishing in the second group. Most of this is due to a virus which he picked up early in the season, leaving him weak and out of condition for months. And no, he has not been selected for the Tour de France, his Giant-Alpecin team deciding to send Warren Barguil, Roy Curvers, Koen de Kort, Ramon Sinkeldam, Simon Geschke, Georg Preidler, Albert Timmer, Tom Dumoulin and fellow German sprinter John Degenkolb, who presumably the team will be based around.
Kittel blogged today that "the dream is over" for him and that he was "very disappointed, it is "the most difficult time of his career." He has been the most prolific Tour rider over the past two years, winning eight stages. His team blogged about their recent success in the Tour, mentioning an "impressive haul of eight stage wins in the last two editions of La Grande Boucle..." Interesting way to announce a team which leaves out the winner of all eight.
Will this sow the seeds of discord between Kittel and his team? His contract is not up until the end of next year, but will we see a few spats between Kittel and Giant? Probably not if he goes to the Vuelta and wins five stages, but will he? And will Giant want to keep him?
A final factor is television. Kittel's eight stages have pushed German station ARD to show the Tour de France, and their biggest star will not be there, except in a possibly pundit role. Yes they can get behind Degenkolb, but Kittel is the bigger star. It's also a question how Alpecin will feel about the biggest advertisement for shampoo not being there. One thing's for certain, Norwegians and Manxmen are rejoicing. But mostly Norwegians.