When Marcel Kittel signed with Katusha for the 2018 season, it was to be a fresh start and a 'new challenge' for the German sprinter. However, less than17 months later, the joy was gone. From 13 sprint wins in 2017 with Quick Step, Kittel had brought in only three wins with Katusha. That led both sides to agree to terminate his contract in May 2019.
"Simply put, the collaboration with Katusha didn't run smoothly. Both sides had envisioned it otherwise," Kittel told the German tv Sportschau.
“I simply no longer felt good there, because the situation brought me to a point where I said: "This is not what I imagine a pro cyclist to be. That is why it was important to me to free myself."
The important factor for Kittel "is whether I actually have what I need in order to be successful." And what he needs, indeed, what ever pro cyclist needs, he says, "is first of all an environment where riders, carers, DS, everyone pulls together. …. You have to establish a mentality where consideration is taken, where everyone pays attention to each other, where you push and coach each other, that you have direction from the people who are in charge."
This, he implies, were missing at Katusha. At the moment, he leaves his future totally open, whether he will continue his career or not.
"I have not decided one way or the other. I have also not gained 20 kilo and totally let myself go. I have simply given myself this time free until the end of the Tour. Which direction I will go, I don't know myself now."
Kittel has had talks with Jumbo-Visma, opening the possibility of his joining the Dutch team next year alongside their young star sprinter Dylan Groenewegen, who recently won his fourth Tour de France stage. He would also re-unite with former teammate and friend Tony Martin.