Those who know Marcel Kittel say that they are uncertain if he could ever race and sprint for wins again.
Kittel took an indefinite leave from cycling and left Katusha-Alpecin this spring after suffering over the last year and a half with illness or other issues.
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The big German, winner of 14 sprints in the Tour de France and yellow jersey wearer, was reported to be joining Jumbo-Visma. However a deal that would see him alongside Dylan Groenewegen is unlikely, the team’s management told Cycling Weekly.
Some have drawn the conclusion because Kittel’s long-time coach and sports director, from Team Argos/Skil-Shimano days, Merijn Zeeman works now with Jumbo-Visma.
The team appears more interested in signing Dutchman Tom Dumoulin. However, on the record, they would only say that the Grand Tour star – winner of the 2017 Giro d’Italia and second to Geraint Thomas (Ineos) in the 2018 Tour de France – needs to free himself from his Team Sunweb contract before any deals can be done.
Kittel will come to the Tour de France on Friday to work for German television. The 31-year-old has been riding little since calling quits to his career on May 9, with the biggest ride since on his mountain bike, which he posted on social media.
He is staying close to his partner as they prepare for the arrival of their baby. He continues to live near the shores of Lake Constance, on the Swiss side that is also home to several Formula One pilots.
Returning to team Katusha-Alpecin seems out of the question. He had also fallen out with the upper management of the Russian-Swiss team, which insiders say was “too old-school” in its approach to cycling. Since he left, Katusha-Alpecin have not been paying him his salary.
Kittel said that he “will put my happiness and joy above everything.”
At Jumbo-Visma, former Katusha team-mate and fellow German, Tony Martin receives some messages from Kittel. The Jumbo-Visma team also received a message of congratulations when they won on day one of the Tour de France with Mike Teunissen and on day two in the team time trial.