Following his abandon on the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire last week, Marcel Kittel has opted out of the Tour of California. His Giant-Alpecin team announced on Thursday that Kittel had been pulled from the team’s line-up, as he is still short of condition after a virus ruined the opening months of his season.
"After the Tour de Yorkshire we decided to take some more time for training, as I am not yet back to the race fitness needed for such a big and prestigious race as the Tour of California, and I will focus on training and working toward the next goals this season,” Kittel said in a statement released by the team.
Kittel won his opening race of the season, the People’s Choice criterium in January, but then fell ill during the subsequent Tour Down Under. After struggling through the Tour of Qatar in February, Kittel missed the rest of the spring campaign due to the unspecified virus.
Although Kittel returned to competitive action at the Tour de Yorkshire last week, he said beforehand that he had been struck by another virus in the lead-up to the race. “Things aren’t going super well,” he said. After being dropped early on the first stage, Kittel abandoned the race.
Had Kittel raced in California, he would have faced Mark Cavendish for the first time since the opening stage of last season’s Tour de France in Harrogate. At this juncture, Kittel’s build-up to the 2015 Tour remains unclear.
“In consultation with the performance staff and Kittel himself, the team decided to follow a different program in building up to his upcoming season goals. An alternative racing program will be determined by the team,” the statement from Giant-Alpecin read.
In Kittel’s absence, Giant-Alpecin’s Tour of California squad will be led by Lawson Craddock and Warren Barguil, while Carter Jones also features.
Giant-Alpecin for the Tour of California: Warren Barguil (Fra), Lawson Craddock (USA), Roy Curvers (Ned), Thierry Hupond (Fra), Carter Jones (USA), Koen de Kort (Ned), Zico Waeytens (Bel).