Marcel Kittel will not ride the 2015 Tour de France, as he is not at a high enough level of fitness to compete in the three-week race.
The German has looked out of sorts since making his season debut at the Tour Down Under in January, and has been laid low with illness for much of the season. His last competitive race was at the Ster ZLM Tour, but the sprinter was unable to feature alongside his rivals on any of the stage finishes.
That lack of competitive edge will see Kittel left out of this year's Tour by his Giant-Alpecin team, meaning he will not be able to add to the eight stage wins he's accrued over the 2013 and 2014 editions of the race.
"The team decided that Kittel's basic fitness is still not sufficient to compete in the Tour de France," the team said in a press release on Thursday.
"Therefore the team will be strengthened for stage success over a different type of parcours, the hard sprints. For now, an alternative racing program will be determined by the performance team and Kittel himself and new goals will be set for the autumn to structurally work towards them."
The 27-year-old, who has worn the maillot jaune on two occassions and has won the last two sprints on the Champs-Élysées, was left dispondent with the news, after suggesting he was feeling ready for the Tour earlier this month.
"Of course I am disappointed about not participating in the Tour de France this year," said Kittel. "But I will have to look ahead and focus on new goals."
Giant are now likely to focus their efforts around 2015 Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix winner John Degenkolb, while Dutch time trial specialist Tom Dumoulin will hope to claim the yellow jersey on the Tour's opening time trial in Utrecht.
Giant-Alpecin line-up for 2015 Tour de France:
Warren Barguil (FRA)
Roy Curvers (NED)
John Degenkolb (GER)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Koen de Kort (NED)
Georg Preidler (AUT)
Ramon Sinkeldam (NED)
Albert Timmer (NED)
Guide to the 2015 Tour de France route
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