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by Mark Zalewski
April 6, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Kittel takes fifth Scheldeprijs win; De La Cruz solos to impressive stage win at Vuelta a Pais Vasco; Coquard wins second stage at Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, Dowsett takes TT and lead; Van Dijk, Pieters take wins on opening day of Healthy Ageing Tour; Steve Tilford, master of cycling disciplines, dies at 57 after traffic accident; UCI adopts new safety measures proposed by Professional Riders Council; Vanmarcke out for Paris-Roubaix; Van Avermaet turns focus to Paris-Roubaix; Cavendish out of Paris-Roubaix with ongoing ankle injury; Kittel confirms return to Tour of California; Distance cyclist Mark Beaumont aiming to cycle around the world in 80 days; Bicycle fabricated from recycled coffee pods; Zwift Stories – Mathew Hayman; Urban Freeride lives – Fabio Wibmer.
Having recently told CyclingTips that he will miss the Giro d’Italia this year, clearing the way for Fernando Gaviria to be the team’s sprinter there, Marcel Kittel confirmed on Wednesday that he will ride the Amgen Tour of California instead.
Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) was serious (and stylish) at the start with a likely bunch sprint at the finish on the docket. Photo: Cor Vos
“I’m happy to go back there,” he said at the press conference after his record-extending fifth career win in Scheldeprijs. “I did California once in 2012. Not with a happy end because I had to leave the race because of inflammation on my knee, but I enjoyed it.”
He identified a parallel of sorts about that participation. “It was actually the last race of Robbie McEwen. Now I am doing the last races of Tom Boonen. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a nice…it’s very well organized. It’s a nice atmosphere there. Yeah, it’s good to be back.”
Kittel’s best showing in 2012 was 98th on stage one. All going to plan, he should be one of the quickest sprinters in the event and be in the running for stage wins. His QuickStep Floors bike sponsor Specialized is based in California, making the event an important target for the team. Thus far this year he has notched up seven victories, including a stage in the recent Three Days of De Panne.
Last month he told CyclingTips that he believes he should be at a higher level in this year’s Tour with the foundation of the 2016 season in his legs. He missed much of 2015 due to illness and fatigue and said that he was consequently below par in last year’s Tour. He took one stage victory, some way off his total of four stage wins in both 2013 and 2014.