Kittel maps out his master plan for this week’s Dubai Tour.
German set for sprint tussle with Cavendish
DUBAI // Having got his season off to the perfect start here 12 months ago, Marcel Kittel has set his sights on an encore as he battles the likes of Mark Cavendish and Elia Viviani for early season sprinting supremacy in the 2017 Dubai Tour.
Kittel, 28, won two of the four Dubai Tour stages in 2016 and beat Giacomo Nizzolo of Trek-Segafredo team by four seconds for overall victory.
Buoyed by his success in Dubai, the German went on to clinch eight more victories last season and also helped his team, Quick-Step Floors, win the World Team Time Trial Championships title in Qatar.
“I am eager to start this race, especially as last year everything went perfect here, and that gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season,” Kittel was quoted as saying on the Quick-Step website.
“I come here after a good training block and can rely on a strong team, but the first race of the year is always tricky, so we’ll just have to see how things pan out.
“Of course, we will give our best to notch up a stage win and kick off the year on the right foot.”
Cavendish, the 2015 Dubai Tour champion, will also be looking to follow up on his successful first year with Team Dimension Data. Last season, the Briton won four stages of the Tour de France and also wore the yellow jersey for a period.
He also added six other road victories to his CV and the madison title, alongside Bradley Wiggins, at the UCI Track World Championships in London.
Cavendish also won his first Olympic medal at the Rio Games, taking silver in the men’s omnium, and finished second behind Peter Sagan in the UCI Road World Championships.
“I could do as well as I did in 2016, why not,” Cavendish, the Abu Dhabi Tour ambassador, told Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview last week. “But I won’t ride on the track.”
The Dubai Tour, which features five stages this year, is Cavendish’s first event of the year with the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour next month next up on his schedule, a race he said last week that the capital can expect to see “the best group of sprinters you will see all year outside the Tour de France”.