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Seeking to replicate or even improve upon a successful 2014 season, Marcel Kittel has confirmed his intention to once again ride the Santos Tour Down Under.
The German will lead the Giant-Alpecin squad in the race, and said that he would both chase personal success where possible and also help others on the team to do well.
“It’s a nice way for me to start the season and to find my legs again after the winter training,” he said. “Adelaide is a beautiful place.
“Even if there aren’t too many opportunities for sprinters, the race is still part of my build up to the season and, in combination with the ideal race conditions, it is an ideal start to the year.
“I will go for any opportunities I have but I’ll also be supporting the strong team that we have here and our other goals. It will be nice to race with our new sponsor Alpecin on the jersey.”
Kittel got his season off to an immediately successful start last time round, winning the People’s Choice Classic. He then went on to take three stages in the Dubai Tour, Scheldeprijs, two stages in the Giro d’Italia, a stage of the Ster ZLM Toer, four stages of the Tour de France and two stages in the Tour of Britain.
It was the second season in a row where he won four stages in the Tour.
The Giant-Alpecin lineup will comprise Kittel, Tom Dumoulin, Koen de Kort, Simon Geschke, Albert Timmer, Chad Hagar and the promising US rider Gregory Craddock, who was third overall and best young rider in the 2014 Tour of California.
The race programme will begin on January 18 with the People’s Choice Classic. The Santos Tour Down Under will run from January 20 – 25.
Dumoulin is one of the most promising young riders in the sport. This season he took the Dutch national TT championships plus the time trial stage of the Critérium International, and also took second in the GP Cycliste de Québec WorldTour race, the Tour of Belgium and the Tour of Alberta.
The 24 year old’s results also include the time trial, the points classification and third overall in the Eneco Tour and third in the world time trial championships.
He will make his Tour Down Under debut in January said he is looking forward to returning to Australia, having competed there before in the Geelong world championships.
“It is completely different country to what I am used to but a nice way to get the season underway, and the start of my detailed race program we have made with the coaches,” he said.
“We have a good team here. I am looking to test myself for the GC, but despite it being an early target I can come to this race without any pressure and see how the legs respond to the hard racing.”