Marcel Kittel makes it to number nine in our countdown of the 100 Best Road Riders of 2017
9. Marcel Kittel
29, Germany, Quick-Step Floors
2017 wins: 14
2017 saw Marcel Kittel once again cement his reputation as the fastest sprinter in the professional peloton as he picked up 13 victories (plus one overall victory) throughout the season.
Starting off strongly with five stage victories in the Dubai Tour and Abu Dhabi Tour (and the overall in the former), Kittel then won stages at the Three Days of De Panne, Tour of California, Ster ZLM Toer, plus the Scheldeprijs one-day race, before heading home to Germany for the Tour de France Grand Depart in Düsseldorf.
Kittel showed that he was in some of the best form of his life as he came from a long way back to win stage two into Liege, and picked up two more stage wins in the opening week as he dominated stage six into Troyes, before edging out Edvald Boasson Hagen by the narrowest of margins the following day in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
By the time he had taken two more victories on stages 10 and 11, Kittel led the green jersey standings by more than 130 points, and seem destined to wear it in Paris.
However disaster struck when he crashed early on what was always going to be a tough stage 17 crossing the Croix de Fer and Galibier in the Alps. The German was forced to abandon, leaving Michael Matthews to be crowned the points classification winner.
The year marks a successful reinvigoration for Kittel at Quick-Step, whom he leaves after two years to join Katusha-Alpecin. A struggle with injury and illness in his final months at Giant in 2015 raised questions over his future prospects, but the Belgian team seemingly worked wonders with him to place him back on top as the world’s best pure sprinter.