A first Tour de France start beckoned in 2012, but this ended in disappointment as Kittel was forced to abandon on stage five through illness and a knee injury. However, better was to come the following year.
His Giant-Shimano sprint train took charge at the 2013 Tour as Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step outfit didn’t have the right riders to fulfill this role. Kittel’s loyal team mates adapted their approach choosing to hit a bunch sprint fast and late (Cavendish’s preference is for his team to take control for the final 10km).
As an amateur rider, Marcel Kittel rode at the same Thüringer Energie Team as John Degenkolb and Tony Martin, and like Martin was an exceptional time triallist as a junior and under-23 talent.
The German rider turned professional with Skil-Shimano in 2011, picking up his first pro win at only the third attempt on stage three of the Tour de Langkawi. He also picked up his first Grand Tour victory at that year’s Vuelta a España.
2015 was something of a nightmare for the young German sprinter, however, with Kittel picking up a virus at the Tour Down Under which had a knock-on effect on his entire season. He struggled through the Tour of Qatar and was forced to withdraw from Tirreno-Adriatico, managing just 12 racing days before May. He returned to racing at the Tour de Yorkshire, but abandoned during the first stage.
Kittel got off the mark immediately, winning stage one of the Dubai Tour on his Etixx debut, before adding the fourth and final stage on his way to both the overall and points classifications. After collecting more wins throughout the spring, Kittel made his mark on the 2016 Giro with two stage wins and a spell in the overall race lead.
Kittel’s top speed is his strongest weapon, and the fact that he can hold it for longer than other sprinters (due to his time trial prowess as an amateur) could see him dominate the sprints for years to come, especially with the power of Quick-Step Floors behind him.