Belgian newspaper reports that Marcel Kittel will leave Giant-Alpecin and join Etixx-QuickStep for the 2016 season

German sprinter Marcel Kittel will move from Giant-Alpecin to Etixx-QuickStep for 2016, according to a report by Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad.

Kittel has endured a torrid season plagued by illness and poor form, and only took two victories in 2015 – in the People’s Choice Classic in Australia and the opening stage of the Tour of Poland. He missed all three Grand Tours having won two stages of the Giro d’Italia and four stages of the Tour de France in 2014.

Kittel was hugely disappointed to miss the Tour, and described his non-selection for the race as “without doubt the most difficult time of my career”.

A move to Etixx-QuickStep would mean breaking the remainder of Kittel’s contract with Giant-Alpecin, which runs until the end of 2016.

>>> Cycling transfer tracker: keep up with all the ins and outs

Kittel, 27, has been with the team since turning professional in 2011 and a move to the Belgian WorldTour outfit would signal a fresh start.

Yesterday, after months of speculation, it was finally confirmed that Mark Cavendish will leave Etixx-QuickStep, creating the space for another sprint specialist in the team alongside 21-year-old Colombian prospect Fernando Gaviria.

Cavendish will join Team Dimension Data – currently known as MTN-Qhubeka – on a three-year deal.