Disc brakes a 'strong improvement' says Marcel Kittel, as he prepares to race on them at Dubai Tour

Kittel will follow in the footsteps of his team-mate Tom Boonen by racing on a Specialized Venge Vias Disc bike

Marcel Kittel at the Dubai Tour press conference (ANSA / MATTEO BAZZI)
(Image credit: ANSA)

Marcel Kittel confirmed he will ride on disc brakes at this week’s Dubai Tour, and commented he had seen a “very strong improvement” so far in training when using them.

The German sprinter, who lines up for his first race of the 2017 season in Dubai on Tuesday, is set to follow his Quick-Step Floors team-mate Tom Boonen who became the first rider to win a race riding on discs at the Vuelta San Juan in Argentina earlier this month.

>>> Dubai Tour 2017 start list

The UCI restarted the trial of discs in racing for the start of this season, having initially halted it after Paris-Roubaix last year, when Movistar’s Fran Ventoso alleged he had been injured by a disc rotor during the race.

Kittel will race on the Specialized Venge Vias Disc at the five-stage race this week, and while he said he didn’t yet know if he would use discs all year he called this race a good “test”.

“Using disc brakes now is a good moment because you can see how it is in a race,” Kittel told press on Monday.

“What I can say from all the training sessions I did already in training camps now is that it’s a very strong improvement. It improves a lot of your steering of your bike, you can handle it really well - so I think it’s a good choice.”

Tom Boonen has become the first rider to win a professional race on disc brakes
(Image credit: Instagram/Watson)

Kittel admitted he had “trust” in the technology and the alterations that have been made since the ban was reintroduced last year, which include rounding the edges of the disc ridge.

Yet he expressed concern that there are issues the UCI still needs to resolve for the rest of the season, particularly if some riders will be using discs in races and others rim brakes.

“I think the most important point is that we need to find the solution to what they do for the rest of the year. From my point of view it’s not very smart and logic to let half of the bunch ride on disc brakes and the other half on rim brakes,” he continued.

“That might be OK when you have dry conditions like in Dubai without rain, but once you are in a downhill there’s an incredible difference between rim brakes and discs when it’s wet.

“I guess the UCI has to take a decision and once that is taken you can also talk about improving the discs with a cage or something like this. This can be an idea – they made the edges of the ridge already more round now which I think is good, I saw it I touched it, I have trust in it, but yeah at all the discussions are sure not over yet.”

Watch: A review of the bike Marcel Kittel will ride, the Specialized Venge Vias Disc

The 28-year-old is starting his second season with the Belgian squad, and after a year of riding together he said he feels his sprint train is in a much better position at the start of this year. His victories last year included two stages of the Giro d’Italia and his ninth Tour de France.

“It’s [the Dubai Tour] also an opportunity to see how good the team is doing,” Kittel said. “If there are mistakes happening in the final for example it’s a good moment it can happen here because later in the year, when you go for the WorldTour races for example, it shouldn’t happen any more.

“It’s one year where I really have the time to also know everyone on the team, like really more than only a couple of months like it was last year.

“That’s adding more value also to the team to create a strong bond between each other and that’s I think very important for the lead-out role.”

Kittel goes into the Dubai Tour as the defending champion, with Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Elia Viviani (Sky) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) among his sprint rivals for the victory this year.

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