Kittel: I'm not sure why I'm struggling at the moment

Troubled Katusha sprinter abandons penultimate BinckBank stage

Marcel Kittel abandoned the BinckBank Tour Saturday, adding another disappointment to his unsatisfactory 2018 season. In his first season with Team Katusha-Alpecin, the German has only two wins, taking stages in Tirreno-Adriatico.

"I'm hugely disappointed that I had to abandon @binckbanktour," he wrote on Twitter and Instagram Saturday.

"While I will be criticized once more, I'm looking for reasons behind all of this. It's been an incredibly difficult season so far and I was hoping to turn things around here with the team. It started promising with a close 2nd place on stage 1 but after that it didn't get any better.

"I'm not sure with what I'm struggling at the moment. I'm trying hard to make it work but this seems to always end in a setback since April. For me the magic formula always has been to align my body and mind to be successful. I guess this is what I'm missing at the moment."

Earlier in the week, he told Cyclingnews, "I don't really care what other people think about me. I'm just trying to concentrate on myself." He added, "Not everything has been perfect, that's for sure. I wanted to win more and that didn't happen. I was struggling also a little bit myself with health issues sometimes, so things haven't been perfect. I'm trying to finish my season well now."

Kittel, 30, finished a close second on the opening stage of the BinckBank Tour, but was rarely seen in the other stages. He has come close a number of times, with numerous top-10 finishes, but has been unable otherwise to take victories.

Perhaps his deepest moment came when he had to leave the Tour de France after missing the time limit on stage 11. In 2017, he had won five stages and worn the green jersey a number of days before abandoning the race due to a series of crashes.

As if his troubles on the bike weren’t enough, during the Tour de France he came under public criticism from DS Dimitri Konyshev, who told L’Equipe, "We pay him a lot of money but he is only interested in himself."

This was followed by reports that Kittel would try to break his contract for 2019 with Katusha and look for another new team – reports he denied to Cyclingnews. "It's bullshit. I don't understand it. I never said that, and I've also never considered it. I guess that's just something that happens during the Tour de France when all the media is looking for stories, but it's just not true."

He tried to put a good spin on things as he returns to racing next week with the Deutschland Tour. "So everything back to zero again for the @deutschlanddeinetour next week. I will start with a positive thought: I have an extra rest day now before we'll start stage 1 in Koblenz...”

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