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Vuelta a Espana

No Kittel as Degenkolb, Dumoulin, Craddock tapped for Vuelta

Marcel Kittel will miss yet another grand tour as Giant-Alpecin leaves him off Vuelta roster despite German sprinter's win in Poland.

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Marcel Kittel won’t be winning a grand tour stage this year.

Plagued by health issues that kept the German sprint ace out of the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, Kittel has been left off Giant-Alpecin’s Vuelta a España team announced Wednesday.

Kittel’s absence from Giant’s Vuelta nine means that he will not race a grand tour during the 2015 season. After missing the Tour, he returned to racing last week at the Tour of Poland, taking his first significant victory of the season in stage 1. It has been a trying year for the usually prolific German sprinter who boasts 60 pro wins to his palmares.

There was no immediate word on Kittel’s form, but team brass obviously felt he was not ready to race a demanding Vuelta that includes nine mountaintop finales.

Paris-Roubaix winner John Degenkolb will headline Giant-Alpecin’s Vuelta squad, along with Tom Dumoulin, who returns from injury that knocked him out of the Tour.

Also punching his Vuelta ticket is American youngster Lawson Craddock, who is making his second-consecutive Vuelta start with the team.

“Our main goal is to go for stage success with John, as we targeted at the Tour,” said coach Christian Guiberteau in a team release. “With Koen [de Kort], Luka [Mezgec], Zico [Waeytens] and Tom [Dumoulin] we have a strong lead-out for John. With Lawson we are working towards the longer-term development, and will not target specific GC ambitions, but rather we aim to help him learn how to behave as GC rider.”

Degenkolb will be looking to hone his form ahead of the Richmond world championships, and will be eyeing the stage win that eluded him during the Tour.

Craddock, meanwhile, made his grand tour debut last year, but fell ill, and abandoned in stage 14 at the Vuelta. After a heavy crash at the Santos Tour Down Under, Craddock posted a solid racing schedule in his second year among the elite pros, riding to an encouraging third in the queen stage at last week’s Tour of Poland.

Giant-Alpecin Vuelta line-up

Lawson Craddock (USA)
John Degenkolb (G)
Tom Dumoulin (Nl)
Johannes Fröhlinger (G)
Thierry Hupond (F)
Koen de Kort (Nl)
Luka Mezgec (Slo)
Tom Stamsnijder (Nl)
Zico Waeytens (B)