Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Dubai Tour
Marcel Kittel will return to the race in which he enjoyed huge success last season.
In 2016, Marcel Kittel made his debut for the team in the Middle East, at the third edition of the Dubai Tour, and what a debut it was! Two emphatic stage wins and a fantastic effort up the Hatta Dam climb propelled the German sprinter to victory in the general classification and laid the foundation for what turned out to be a great season with Quick-Step Floors Team, a season in which he scored 12 wins.
Now, 28-year-old Marcel – who holds the record for the most number of victories (5) in the Dubai Tour – will once again ride the race, which this year has been extended to five stages; four of these will give opportunities to the fast men, while the Hatta Dam finish will once again add drama to the general classification, as the riders will have to overcome its steep gradients that kick at 17%.
"I am eager to start this race, especially as last year everything went perfect here and that gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. I come here after a good training block and can rely on a strong team, but the first race of the year is always tricky, so we'll just have to see how things pan out. Of course, we will give our best to notch up a stage win and kick off the year on the right foot", said the defending champion.
Seven riders will join Marcel Kittel for the Dubai Tour – Julian Alaphilippe, Bob Jungels, Davide Martinelli, Fabio Sabatini, Matteo Trentin, Julien Vermote and neo-pro Maximilian Schachmann, the 2016 runner-up at the U23 World ITT Championships in Qatar – and sport director Brian Holm is confident this squad can have an impact on the race.
"Our ambition is to land a stage victory next week. We have strong competition here, but I'm sure that the team can get some nice results. Marcel is our leader and he will have a good lead-out train, with Julien, Matteo and Fabio. It's also going to be interesting to see the new kid, Max Schachmann; I'm glad to have him in the team and I'm curious of his development. Overall, we are happy to be here and we look forward to racing in the desert again!", said Brian Holm.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele