By Gregor Brown
The 2014 Tour de France's sprint king Marcel Kittel is upset with the “difficult” situation he finds himself in after being left out of this year's race.
The German will sit at home this July because his Giant-Alpecin team said that he lacked fitness and overlooked him in its nine-man selection on Wednesday.
Kittel won four stages at the 2014 Tour, from the first in Harrogate with the yellow jersey to the final one in Paris on the Champs-Élysées, and counts four from 2013. This year, however, he has been chasing top form after a virus knocked him out in the spring.
"Not being nominated is without doubt the most difficult time of my career," Kittel said on his website.
"The forced pause this spring was already not easy. Although there were times I wanted to just throw in the towel, I tried to stay strong and find a way.
“This is just another blow to me, that I didn't earn my team's trust for a Tour nomination. It is not a good situation but on the other hand, instructive. I will learn to cope with it and thereby I will also grow."
Kittel only counts one win this year, from the non-ranked criterium ahead of the Tour Down Under in January. Despite feeling down and missing training days, he forced his return in the Tour of Qatar in February.
That decision failed to pay-off and he had to take more days off after the race and skip races like the Tirreno-Adriatico, Scheldeprijs and the Tour of California. He returned in the Tour de Yorkshire, but pulled the brakes early and quit. However, recent races in Germany and The Netherlands showed that he is on the road to recovery.
Kittel is one of cycling's top sprinters along with Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal). He sounded upset that he was denied a chance to face his rivals even if his fitness is not at its best.
"Of course, after this long pause, the team is uncertain as to how long my form would hold at the Tour. But then again, nobody knows what would have happened if I would have started. There are several good chances for sprinters at the Tour," Kittel continued.
"Now I must live with this decision. Hopefully I will find new goals for the remainder of the season. At this point, however, I don't really know how to make up for this disappointment. I am still too busy coping with the effects of this decision. Of course I want to show again this year what I can do. It's just that the Tour is always so important.
"I find it particularly difficult that I can't start, because the ARD (German television) is again reporting from the Tour this year. I have fought for a long time, really engaged myself, that the German cameras will be focused on us again. That makes me proud. I would gladly have presented myself on German TV to my many fans, who have seen my eight stage wins and me in the yellow jersey on other networks. We will just have to put that off."
He did not say his plans, but Kittel could return for races like the Arctic Race of Norway, the Vattenfall Cyclassics, the Tour of Britain or the last grand tour of the season, the Vuelta a España.
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