Marcel Kittel could ride for Etixx-QuickStep in 2016 after reports in Belgium suggest he is about to buy his way out of his contract with Giant-Alpecin and move to Etixx-QuickStep. Kittel has apparently already agreed personal terms with Etixx-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere and the team is rumoured to have secured a German sponsor which could be announced this morning during a special press conference in Belgium.
According to experienced Belgian journalist Hugo Coorevits of the Het Nieuwsblad newspaper, the deal is almost done, suggesting that Etixx-QuickStep has pulled off the transfer of the season and found the perfect replacement for Mark Cavendish.
The Etixx-QuickStep team refused to confirm the news before this morning’s press conference, while nobody from the Giant-Alpecin team was available for comment.
Under UCI rules a rider can end a contract with a team if any buy-out clause is paid and the team agrees to terminate his existing contract.
Kittel has had a terrible 2015 season, racing for just 33 days after being hit by a virus after riding the Tour Down Under. He was not selected for the Giant-Alpecin Tour de France team, damaging his relationship with the squad and did not finish the recent Omloop van het Houtland Lichtervelde. He is set to ride the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro this week.
It seems that Lefevere has been working on signing Kittel for some time. A new German sponsor would fund Kittel’s salary and the German would replace Mark Cavendish, who will ride for Dimension Data in 2016. Etixx-QuickStep has also signed talented young Colombia sprinter Fernando Gaviria but he will focus on the track at the Olympic Games during the 2016 season.
It is believed that the team have signed a two-year deal with a new German sponsor. Current sponsor Renson, a Belgian metal processing company, announced that they would end their partnership with Etixx-QuickStep and have signed a new deal with Kittel's Giant-Alpecin team.
More details on Kittel’s expected move to Etixx-Quick Step and the team’s future will be announced at this morning’s press conference.