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Marcel Kittel (Skil-Shimano)
Strong Skil-Shimano squad for Australian event
With 14 wins to this name in 2011, German Marcel Kittel proved to be one of the men to beat in the pro peloton and will headline the Skil-Shimano outfit for next month's Jayco Herald Sun Tour which returns after a one-year absence.
"It's the last race for me this year so I want to enjoy it with my team as much as possible and if there is a sprint I want to win it," the 23-year-old said.
It's been a big year for Kittel, who began the season by taking out the fifth stage of the Tour de Langkawi, won four stages at the Four Days of Dunkirk, won the first stage and then overall at the Delta Tour Zeeland, four stages at the Tour of Poland, along with stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana in his grand tour debut. Earlier this month, Kittel edged compatriot Andre Greipel at the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen.
"We have a strong team for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and I'm convinced that we can win stages there in a sprint, personally, but also from a breakaway and when we have a finish climb like on stage four," he said of the Arthurs Seat stage.
"I expect a very nice race and an easygoing Australian atmosphere with hopefully nice weather!"
Kittel, one of the early favourites to claim the sprinter's jersey, will be returning to familiar territory, having won a bronze medal in the under-23 time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Geelong last year.
"I know the area around Geelong from the world championships last year. I had a really good time there and I spent a few more weeks in Australia for holiday and I saw a lot," he said.
"I heard that the race will pass a few great Australian signs like the Great Ocean Road and the city of Melbourne and of course there are already some big names on the winners list. I'm very excited and looking forward to it."
A strong Skil-Shimano team, with a blend of youth and experience, will be supporting Kittel in his bid for stage victories.
Experienced 2010 Tour of Britain top-ten finisher and Australian-based Koen De Kort, will be joined by season debutant Tobias Ludvigsson, promising German climber Simon Geschke, 2011 Tour of Luxembourg young riders' jersey winner Alexandre Geniez, and young Victorian Mitch Docker, who finished 15th in this year's Paris-Roubaix.
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour begins on October 12 with a 170.4km undulating stage between Whittlesea and Ballarat.