Jumbo-Visma manager admits interest in signing Kittel at Tour de France

Jumbo-Visma team manager Richard Plugge has indicated that his team would be interested in signing Marcel Kittel in comments to Dutch television during the first rest day of the Tour de France.

Kittel has been strongly linked with the team after terminating his contract with Katusha-Alpecin earlier in the season. Speaking to Dutch broadcaster NOS, Plugge said that his team would be interested in signing the German sprinter, should he want to return to professional ranks. Kittel, who visited the Tour on the morning of stage 10, has said that he will decide his future after the race.

"First he has to think very carefully about what he wants," said Plugge. "If he is interested, then we want to talk to him. He's a great rider, of course. When he's out on his own we can start talking, but that's still a long way off.

"It starts with him," he added.

In mid-June, Jumbo-Visma directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman confirmed that he had already started speaking to Kittel. The pair had previously worked together at Giant-Alpecin.

Jumbo-Visma, of course, already have a top sprinter among their ranks in the form of Dylan Groenewegen, who has three stage victories at the Tour de France to his name. At the start of this year's Tour, Groenewegen said he would welcome Kittel to the team, adding that: "In every team you need a second sprinter. Maybe that's Marcel Kittel, but we'll have to see."

The team are balancing GC and sprint ambitions at the Tour, with Groenewegen the main sprinter and Steven Kruijswijk competing for a podium spot or more. Plugge said that adding Kittel into the equation at a Grand Tour wouldn't be a problem for the team.

"When Bradley Wiggins won the Tour, he also had Mark Cavendish in the team," he said. "Secondly, it all depends on the course. We can already think of all kinds of scenarios for next year's Tour, but first we'll have to wait for the race route."

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