Kittel hoping to get 2017 off on the right foot at the Dubai Tour

Marcel Kittel is set to get his 2017 campaign underway at the Dubai Tour as he looks to defend his title of 12 months ago. Kittel will lead a strong Quick-Step team, with support from Italian duo Matteo Trentin and Fabio Sabatini as well as Julien Vermote for the sprints.

"I am eager to start this race, especially as last year everything went perfect here and that gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season," Kittel said. "I come here after a good training block and can rely on a strong team, but the first race of the year is always tricky, so we'll just have to see how things pan out. Of course, we will give our best to notch up a stage win and kick off the year on the right foot."

Kittel took the overall victory last year, beating Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) by four seconds having won two stages and putting in an admirable performance on the Queen Stage to Hatta Dam to keep himself in contention. Kittel went on to take another eight victories in 2016, as well as helping Quick-Step to their team time trial world title, before finishing his season after the Worlds road race.

Quick-Step will also bring Julian Alaphilippe, Bob Jungels, Davide Martinelli and new signing Maximilian Schachmann. While they have the defending champion, Quick-Step is primarily looking for stage victories ahead of the overall title.

"Our ambition is to land a stage victory next week. We have strong competition here, but I'm sure that the team can get some nice results," said directeur sportif Brian Holm. "Marcel is our leader and he will have a good lead-out train, with Julien, Matteo and Fabio. It's also going to be interesting to see the new kid, Max Schachmann; I'm glad to have him in the team and I'm curious of his development. Overall, we are happy to be here and we look forward to racing in the desert again."

Quick-Step Floors for the Dubai Tour: Marcel Kittel, Julian Alaphilippe, Julien Vermote, Matteo Trentin, Fabio Sabatini, David Martinelli, Maximilian Schachmann and Bob Jungels.

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