John Degenkolb will be Giant-Alpecin's leader in this year's Milan-San Remo

Marcel Kittel will not ride Milan-San Remo (March 22) this year so that John Degenkolb can lead team Giant-Alpecin.

Kittel was the 2014 Tour de France’s most successful sprinter with four stage wins but has never raced in Milan-San Remo, which has a reputation of favouring sprinters.

When asked whether he’d take part in the Italian classic, Kittel said: “Not Milan-San Remo because mainly John is the leader for the race, that’s how the team decision is. I don’t know if I can win, I’ve never done it.”

The German sprinted to four stage wins in the Tour de France last year, including the opening stage in Harrogate that earned him the race leader’s yellow jersey.

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Out of the five monuments, Milan-San Remo suits him best. The 2015 edition returned to its classic route with fewer climbs and the finishing straight into San Remo’s centre on Via Roma.

Kittel raced the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Qatar. His next appointment is the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in mid-March, followed by Ghent-Wevelgem, the Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix.

Marcel Kittel wins the 2015 Peoples Choice Classic in Adelaide

Marcel Kittel wins the 2015 Peoples Choice Classic in Adelaide

“For me the most important thing is to make a decision in some races,” continued Kittel.

“It’s fine if he [Degenkolb] gets the full support. It’s hard for the team to have two sprinters, and then losing a helper to have me, and then if I get dropped. Of course, I’d like also to have an idea to see how the race goes, to judge it myself.”

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Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) won the nearly 300-kilometre monument in his first participation in 2009. Two years later, team Highroad relied on both him and Matt Goss, and was successful with the latter.

“I know,” Kittel said when it was noted that Cavendish won on his first attempt.

Kittel is recovering from a cold and missed training following the Tour Down Under. Last year, with his four Tour stages and wins elsewhere, he was cycling’s most successful sprinter. Cavendish, instead, had an off-year.

“He’s still Mark Cavendish,” Kittel said, “he’s still very fast.”

Kittel will lead the German team again at the Tour, and like Milan-San Remo, he will give space to his team-mates. This year, Frenchman Warren Barguil will debut after placing eighth in the 2014 Vuelta a España.

“It’s logical that we bring a talent like Warren in his home race after he rode well in the Vuelta. We have to find a good way to combine all the interests we have.”

  • Bob Smith

    The dude is too big for the hard climbs in the race, he’s like a trackie!
    Degenkolb is the favourite perhaps…