Kittel looking to ease into Tour of Qatar before raising expectations

German sprinter backed by strong Giant-Alpecin team

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) will make his Tour of Qatar debut on Sunday but the German is keen to feel his way into the race instead of predicting how many stages he can potentially target.

The race is typically decided by crosswinds and bunch sprints, and with a 10.9-kilometre time trial thrown in this year, Kittel is seen as a genuine contender for the overall.

Having started his season in Australia at the Tour Down Under this year, Kittel returns to racing in Qatar eager to make the most of a strong lead-out from Giant-Alpecin.

“We have a good team here and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll see how my legs are because this is a new combination of races with Tour Down Under and now Qatar. In between I was at home so the climate change had an influence on me but I’m confident and curious coming into the race,” he told reporters in Doha on Saturday.

“I think we have an experienced team not only when it comes to the race but when it comes to sprints and the crosswinds. I think we should be able to make something out of it. Personally I’d like to get a feel for the race before I can say what I can really expect.

“I can take it easy and there’s a lot of competition here. Everyone will be very nervous and aggressive. It’s good to know that beforehand and then go into the race concentrated.”

Kittel’s pedigree in the time trial gives him an advantage over the rest of the sprinting elite in the race and the German realises that the 10.9-kilometre stage will be decisive.

“The time trial is the race of truth as they say and it will be decisive for this race. With Bradley Wiggins here the competition is really high. I just need to give my best,” he said.

“Every team is really strong, including ours, but the race is really open. I think it doesn’t depend on strength, it depends on experience in the crosswinds when the race is going to be decided.”

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