Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) has said that he will have health checks after he abandoned his second consecutive race this month. Having already abandoned the BinckBank Tour, the German dropped out of his home Deutschland Tour following the opening stage.
"I'm very sad that I had to leave @deutschlanddeinetour after stage 1," Kittel wrote on social media. "After BinckBank Tour I didn't feel good and well recovered and I need to get a full health check now to know what is going on. I will keep you updated."
Kittel has had a torrid season altogether, with just two victories to his name at Tirreno-Adriatico in March. There were some promising signs at the start of the Tour de France but he stopped even contesting sprints in the latter part of the first week, with lead-out man Rick Zabel taking up the mantle from his compatriot.
In the end, Kittel would leave the Tour after stage 11, missing the time cut along with Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish. An interview given during the race by his directeur sportif Dimitri Konyshev in L’Equipe hinted at strained relations within the Katusha stable.
However, Kittel dismissed rumours that he was looking to leave the team and, a month later, he returned to racing action at the BinckBank Tour harbouring hopes he could salvage something from the wreckage of his season. Again, there were hints that something might be around the corner with second place in the opening stage. Successive breakaway successes meant that he wouldn’t get another chance to sprint before he climbed off his bike midway through the penultimate stage.
"There is not one reason you can point to as to why it hasn't always worked. It's a complicated sport. So many factors play a role that it's hard to find one particular one that was really bad. We are just trying to improve in every aspect," Kittel had told Cyclingnews two days before his abandon.
"Not everything has been perfect, that's for sure. I wanted to win more and that didn't happen. I was struggling also a little bit myself with health issues sometimes, so things haven't been perfect. I’m trying to finish my season well now. We're talking already about getting better for next year. I think that's an important process that we have to take into the new year – with fresh and new energy."
Following his departure from the one-week race, Kittel wrote an emotional post on Instagram, saying that he was struggling to figure out just why things weren’t working for him.
"I'm not sure with what I'm struggling at the moment. I'm trying hard to make it work but this seems to always end in a setback since April. For me the magic formula always has been to align my body and mind to be successful. I guess this is what I'm missing at the moment," he wrote.
Kittel is slated to ride the Tour of Britain next, which begins on September 2.