German sprinter Marcel Kittel admits he is still short of condition after a long-running virus and will not race at the Tour of California

Marcel Kittel’s disastrous start to the season is set to continue as the German sprinter was ruled out of the Tour of California, which starts on Sunday.

The Giant-Alpecin rider tried to return at the Tour de Yorkshire last weekend, but withdrew midway through stage one looking in noticeable discomfort.

In a statement released by his team, Kittel confirmed that he would not line up in Sacremento on May 10, admitting his condition is still not at a high enough level to compete in the race.

“After the Tour de Yorkshire we decided to take some more time for training, as I am not yet back to the race fitness needed for such a big and prestigious race as the Tour of California, and I will focus on training and working toward the next goals this season,” he said.

Cycling fans were gearing up for a battle of the fastmen between Kittel and Mark Cavendish, but it now looks likely that duel will have to wait until the Tour de France.

The team statement read: “In consultation with the performance staff and Kittel himself, the team decided to follow a different program in building up to his upcoming season goals. An alternative racing program will be determined by the team.”

Lawson Craddock, who endeared himself to the Yorkshire crowd with a gutsy stage three breakaway, will ride for Giant in California, with Frenchman Warren Barguil leading the team.

Giant-Alpecin for the Tour of California
Warren Barguil, Lawson Craddock, Roy Curvers, Thierry Hupond, Carter Jones, Koen de Kort, Zico Waeytens