A personal highlight of the classics for German sprinter
As the winner of the past editions of the sprinter's classic, Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) enters Scheldeprijs as a favourite to claim his third title at the 200km Belgium Classic.
A mid-week race between the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris–Roubaix, Scheldeprijs is a rare opportunity for the sprinters to shine and Kittel has shown in the last two years that it is a race he is highly motivated to win.
"Scheldeprijs is my personal classics highlight as it is the only one I do, so I am really looking forward to it," Kittel explained on his team's website.
"Even if I didn't win a stage in De Panne, I am feeling confident as I feel good and the team are riding well together.
"We will go all out for the win and even if some of the big names aren't there it doesn't change the way we will race – there are still a lot of fast riders in the race."
The race will be another opportunity to fine tune the team's sprint train which has been delivering Kittel and John Degenkolb to numerous victorious already this season.
"Marcel is in good shape and our goal is to ride for a bunch sprint and to support him before getting the lead-out train up to speed," said Team Giant-Shimano coach Aike Visbeek.
While Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick Step) won't be racing in 2014, Giant Shimano will be up against the likes of Theo Bos (Belkin), Arnaud Démare (FDJ), Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Milan San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) among many other fast men.
"I expect an offensive race by the other teams and we will be ready for this. No doubt it will be a hard race for us but we have an experienced team here guided by road captain, Roy Curvers," Visbeek said.
"It's an important race for the team and it is one of only two classics left together with Paris – Roubaix before races racing moves to the Ardennes."
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