Kittel withdraws from Tour of California lineup

The Giant-Alpecin sprinter has struggled with illness and a lack of fitness this season

In what has become a concerning start to his 2015 season, German Marcel Kittel has pulled out of his planned participation at the Amgen Tour of California, his Giant-Alpecin team announced Thursday.

Kittel has struggled with illness and a lack of fitness throughout the 2015 season. He was winless at the Santos Tour Down Under and Tour of Qatar in January and February, his only race participations before he headed to last weekend’s Tour of Yorkshire, where he abandoned midway through the opening stage.

Kittel was set to race the Amgen Tour, which starts Sunday in Sacramento, in what was billed as a showdown between the German and sprint rival Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step), who is enjoying a fine 2015 season with nine victories thus far.

“In consultation with the performance staff and Kittel himself, the team decided to follow a different program in building up to his upcoming season goals,” Giant said in a statement. “An alternative racing program will be determined by the team.”

Kittel said his return to racing at Yorkshire had been premature.

“After the Tour de Yorkshire we decided to take some more time for training, as I am not yet back to the race fitness needed for such a big and prestigious race as the Tour of California,” he said.

At the last two editions of the Tour de France, Kittel has won four stages at each, including the opening stage, bringing him the maillot jane, as well as the final stage on the Champs Elysees. He’ll now focus on returning to form in time for the start of the Tour, in Utrecht, Netherlands, in eight weeks.

In California, the German team will instead concentrate on the general classification, with French rider Warren Barguil and American Lawson Craddock, who finished third in California, behind Bradley Wiggins and Rohan Dennis, last year. The race runs May 10-17.

Giant-Alpecin for the Amgen Tour of California

Warren Barguil
Lawson Craddock
Roy Curvers
Thierry Hupond
Carter Jones
Koen de Kort
Zico Waeytens