Mario Cipollini: ‘Marcel Kittel still the most talented sprinter in the world’

The Italian sprinting legend gives his thoughts on the current crop of fast men

Mario Cipollini believes Marcel Kittel is the most talented sprinter (Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Mario Cipollini says he believes Marcel Kittel is still the most talented sprinter in the world.

Italian Cipollini, the man credited with mastering the sprint lead-out, said that compatriot Elia Viviani (Deceuninck- Quick-Step) has improved but that he believes Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) is still the best.

The retired sprinting legend weighed in on the current WorldTour sprinting talent in an interview with Italian newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport. (opens in new tab)

When asked whether Viviani was the number one sprinter in the world, 51-year-old Cipollini said: “Elia has grown a lot and can count on an extraordinary team that will help him grow further.

“But the most talented sprinter is always Marcel Kittel, I think.”

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Cipollini added that he is not convinced by UAE Team Emirates star Fernando Gaviria because the Colombian is prone to crashing.

Viviani and Gaviria have opened their season in emphatic fashion, both with two wins to their name already.

After taking the opening stage of the Tour Down Under, Viviani went on to claim victory in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Australia.

Gaviria opened with a win in his first race day of the season at the Vuelta a San Juan, following up with another victory on stage four.

Kittel won a sprint stage of the Challenge Majorca in February, after winning only two races throughout the previous season.

But the German's won five stages of the Tour de France in 2017, which put him 13th in the all-time list of stage winners on 14 victories.

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Cipollini also decried the absence of an Italian WorldTour team, with talent like Viviani, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) riding for foreign teams.

When asked whether Italian team managers could emulate the success of Sir Dave Brailsford and Team Sky, he said: “Dave has the personality and the charisma to impose a project like that.

“We would have people up to par, for example [former Liquigas manager] Roberto Amadio.”

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.