Kittel motivated for the Tour de France after Ster ZLM Toer test

German sprinter 'proud' with finish to Dutch race

Marcel Kittel is still searching for a win in Europe this season just 11 days before the start of the Tour de France but the Giant-Alpecin sprinter is satisfied with his current level of condition as he continues to recover from an early-season illness after finishing the Ster ZLM Toer. Kittel's best result in the five stage race was 13th in the prologue which followed his sixth place at the Rund um Köln one week prior.

"In light of all the problems in the first half of the season, I am almost a little proud of the way I finished the ZLM Tour. Unfortunately I didn't get an top results. But the goal was mainly to put as much stress on myself as I could. And I achieved that," Kittel wrote on his personal website.

Kittel placed 65, 108, 70 and 85 on the following stages at the Dutch stage race with the 27-year-old having now completed 21 race days and the pre-Tour Down Under criterium, the People's Choice Classic which he won in January.

"One of the four stages went very well," Kittel wrote of the race. "That I couldn't recover so quickly after a stage due to my lack of training and race kilometers because of my illness this spring, was to be expected.I still don't have the racing hardness and especially on the first day, my legs were pretty heavy.

"It is normal that the form fluctuates from day to day after an altitude training camp. I know that from past years. But overall I think that this race has helped me."

Kittel has won four stages at each of the last two editions of the Tour, and worn the yellow jersey, but has never started the French grand tour with less than 3000km of racing in his legs. However, Kittel is looking forward to the race as he explained.

"My body is again in the race rhythm and I am motivated and in good spirits as I look to the Tour de France."

Kittel's final race before the Tour starts in Utrecht with a 13.8km time trial is the German national championships on Sunday 28 June.

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