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.
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.