“My form isn’t all that great after being sick for another week, and only having a couple of days of training right before the race is not perfect,” said the Giant-Alpecin sprinter, who has been laid up since the Tour of Qatar in early February.
“For me, this has been a season when a lot of things haven’t gone smoothly, but I guess that’s always part of a sporting career,” he said when he spoke to the press at the Tour de Yorkshire presentation on Thursday evening in York. “After [the Tour Down Under in] Australia I was sick. I thought it was a cold but in the end it was a virus. But I only found that out after the Tour of Qatar, so I made it worse by riding in Qatar.”
Kittel explained that it took some time and lots of medical tests to diagnose exactly what his problem was. “In the end I was fine, but it meant that I missed a big part of my training time and all of my early season goals, which was the down side of being out of racing. But I’m really happy to be back on the bike again now,” he said.
The German revealed that he fell ill again two weeks ago with another virus, and admitted with regard to his form that, “things aren’t going super well”. He added: “At the moment the key thing is to find my way back into racing. But at least this will be a start. I’m not focused on any special goals, beyond being with the team.”
Kittel said he was pleased to be returning to action in Yorkshire, where he enjoyed one of his career highlights last year when he took the Tour de France’s yellow jersey by winning the opening stage of the 2014 race in Harrogate, which lies just 30km west of York.
“It’s really nice to see a few places that I know from the Tour de France, like the race course in York, where I had the yellow jersey [at the start of stage two], which was really cool,” he said.
Asked if there is a chance that he might enjoy a winning return to Yorkshire, Kittel responded: “I’ll say now that if I do win then it will be because I’ve been super lucky. But if there is a chance of victory then of course it will be nice to take it.”