The will-he, won’t-he saga continues with Marcel Kittel as the Giant-Alpecin sprinter insists he’s motivated for the Tour de France after coming through the ZLM Toer unscathed.
Kittel was some way off the pace in the race, however, losing over seven minutes on stage one – a sprint to Rosmalen – and trailed eventual winner Andre Greipel by nearly 13 minutes by the end of the week.
But the German insists the results were not his main priority in the race, instead wanting to see how his body reacted in race situations having only 17 days under his belt this season due to illness.
“In light of all the problems in the first half of the season, I am almost a little proud of the way I finished the ZLM Tour,” he wrote on his website.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get any top results. But the goal was mainly to put as much stress on myself as I could. And I achieved that.”
Kittel said that he would decide on his Tour de France participation after the Dutch race, which finished on Sunday, and all signs point towards him making himself available for the second Grand Tour of the year.
He was named alongside fellow German sprinter John Degenkolb in Giant-Alpecin’s squad longlist in May, but with no more races between now and the start of the Tour on July 4, Kittel says he’s still short of race fitness.
“I still don’t have the racing hardness and especially on the first day, my legs were pretty heavy,” he continued “It is normal that the form fluctuates from day to day after an altitude training camp.
“I know that from past years. But overall I think that this race has helped me. My body is again in the race rhythm and I am motivated and in good spirits as I look to the Tour de France.”
The Cycling Weekly experts discuss the Grand Depart in Utrecht