Marcel Kittel: “I’m happy to be here”
The most successful World Tour rider of the season, the German sprinter awaits with confidence for the Giro d'Italia to kick off.
Two years after making his debut at the Corsa Rosa and scoring two emphatic victories, Marcel Kittel returns to the race, one of the most prestigious on the calendar. As was the case in 2014, when Northern Ireland got to host the depart, also now the race will start from abroad, from the Netherlands, for what's going to be the 12th time that the Giro will kick off from a foreign country. An omen for another successful campaign of Marcel? Not at all, according to the 27-year-old, who is focused solely on the race, his form and the team which he has for the first Grand Tour of the season.
"I'm very happy to be here. We come with a really good and experienced team, that's working well together. I hope that this race will bring the team closer and that together we will overcome the difficult moments that everyone encounters during a Grand Tour. As you could see, I had a very strong spring, with many victories, and I can't complain about anything, as the team was always there, although not all the riders were used with doing a lead-out. I'm coming here with a strong form and with the right mental approach, as does the whole squad, and this gives us all a lot of confidence", said Kittel, who's won eight races so far in 2016, the most recent victory being the one recorded last week at the Tour de Romandie.
Questioned about his goals for the Giro d'Italia and the chances of wearing the pink jersey at some point, Marcel – who led a Grand Tour in the past at the Tour de France – said: "The plan is to take things day by day and see what will come out of all this. I want to try and do a good time trial and then, if I won't lose too many seconds, maybe I'll begin thinking of taking the pink jersey on the first week-end. We have to be focused all the time, because there are many good sprinters here. I'm really glad to be in the Netherlands, a country which is very passionate about cycling; even today I could see their love, as the people supported and cheered us during the training ride."
Gianluca Brambilla, David De La Cruz, Bob Jungels, Fabio Sabatini, Pieter Serry, Mateo Trentin, Carlos Verona and Lukasz Wisniowski will be the other riders of Etixx – Quick-Step to race the Giro d'Italia, and while many of them already got to taste this event in the past, this will not be the case for Bob Jungels – the Luxembourg champion – who'll do the Corsa Rosa for the first time in his career.
"I'm feeling good and I'm coming here after a solid display in Romandie, where I proved that my shape is there. I'm healthy and I hope for some luck. We checked the time trial course today, and I can't say it's too complicated: flat and with big roads. The wind could play a role, but I don't want to think about it. The general classification won't be a priority for me. I just want to take it step by step, test myself and discover how far I can go", said Bob less than 24 hours before the start in Apeldoorn.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele