Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) is to race the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire, the rider has confirmed.
The German is looking to kick start his year after a disappointing early season, with the German admitting he was going through “a difficult period” after finishing 99th and 4-30 down in Scheldeprijs, a race he has previously won five times.
Kittel began 2019 with a win in the Trofeo Palma at Challenge Mallorca but has not crossed the finish line first since. At the UAE Tour his best finish was third and he then abandoned Paris-Nice halfway through the race. The 30-year-old then failed to contest the bunch sprint at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne, followed by a disappointing performance at Scheldedprijs, which forced his team to call a “crisis meeting” over the rider’s poor form.
The sprinter responded to this, saying: “Always easy to beat a man when he’s on the ground. I’m facing a difficult period and I’m thankful for everyone who is supporting me now. To those people making headlines on my cost now: enjoy your minute of fame!”
The 14-time Tour de France stage winner last took the start line in Yorkshire at the inaugural edition of the race in 2015. The year before, the German took one of his Tour de France stage wins at the Grand Depart in Yorkshire, wearing the yellow jersey on stage two between York and Sheffield.
Kittel said: “It’s going to be nice to be back in Yorkshire because of all the memories I have from 2014. It’s a great experience to race there in front of all those spectators and I’m looking forward to it.”
Other big names who have recently announced they will race the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire include British road race champion Connor Swift (Madison Genesis) and world TT champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) will take the start in Barnsley in the women’s race.