Kittel under pressure to deliver win at Scheldeprijs

Marcel Kittel insists he's not worried that he has yet to win in Europe this season, and hopes to three-peat at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday

ANTWERP, Belgium (VN) — Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) said he’s confident the victories will come, and he’s hoping it’s as soon as today’s Scheldeprijs.

After a hot start to the season, with victories in Australia and three stages at the Dubai Tour, the German ace remains winless on European roads.

“In the last races, I have felt strong, and I feel the victories will come,” Kittel told VeloNews before the start Wednesday. “I was strong at [Three Days of] De Panne, but sometimes you need a bit of luck. I am not worried about it now.”

Kittel, 25, started the season off with a bang, winning a criterium ahead of the Santos Tour Down Under and then three of four stages at the Dubai Tour. Since he’s returned to Europe, however, he’s been winless in three stage races he’s started.

He pulled out of stage 1 at the Ruta del Sol in Spain in February and was out-gunned at Tirreno-Adriatico, when he could not make it over the climbs to contest for the sprints. At last week’s De Panne, he could only muster eighth in stage 2 and was not in contention for the other sprints.

Kittel, who won four stages in last year’s Tour de France, insisted he’s not worried.

“I will take a short break after Scheldeprijs to build up for the next races,” said Kittel, who will be racing the Giro d’Italia for the first time before the Tour. “We have big goals this season, and today is one of them.”

Kittel is the favorite to win today’s Scheldeprijs, and could make history if he wins again by becoming the first rider to win the race three times in a row.

“We are here for the win,” Kittel told Sporza at the start. “It’s us against the [peloton]. It’s a big goal for us to win. That’s why we are here.”

With Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) both missing Scheldeprijs, the pressure to win will be even higher.