With just one victory under his belt so far this season, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) has decided to take a break to fully recover from a virus rather than try for a fourth consecutive victory in the Scheldeprijs on Wednesday or race Paris-Roubaix next week.
Kittel and the team's trainers decided he needs more time to get back to top speed before jumping into races.
"I have already been back on the bike for some time, but I am not yet back to my normal performance level and that is why we decided to work back to full fitness and towards my next goals this season," Kittel said.
In 2014, Kittel was the dominant sprinter in the peloton, racking up 14 victories, including two stage wins at the Giro d'Italia and four stages of the Tour de France and a day in the maillot jaune.
This year, he started off the season with a repeat victory in the Tour Down Under Classic that precedes the stage race, but has since been unable to perform. He picked up a chest infection in Australia, and struggled in Tour of Qatar. He then pulled out of Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico.
The team stated, "The inability to continue his winning streak at Scheldeprijs is a disappointment for both Kittel and the team after a hat trick of wins at the Belgium one-day race in the last three years. Getting back to his normal performance level is the first priority. For now, Kittel will work closely with the team’s medical and performance staff to ensure a gradual build in the intensity of his training."