Marcel Kittel  · Beim Münsterland Giro starte ich morgen zum…

Marcel Kittel  · Beim Münsterland Giro starte ich morgen zum letzten Mal im Quickstep-Trikot – und ich bin richtig heiß auf das Rennen. Nach einer dreiwöchigen Trainingsphase war ich vergangenes Wochenende bei der Tour de l’Eurometropole im Einsatz und es lief wieder sehr gut. Die drei Wochen habe ich wirklich gebraucht. Zum Erfolg gehört zu je 50 Prozent Körper und Geist. Und ich musste wieder beides in Einklang und Balance bringen. Das ist mir gelungen. Ich freue mich jedenfalls sehr auf morgen, hoffe, ein gutes Rennen zu liefern, Spaß mit den Jungs zu haben und bin natürlich besonders froh, in Deutschland zu fahren und mit den Fans ein Radsport-Fest zu feiern. Wir sehen uns.
Euer Marcel

Foto: www.roth-foto.de

Kittel leaves Quick-Step for Katusha

Sprint star Marcel Kittel will depart Belgian squad Quick-Step Floors and head to Katusha-Alpecin for 2018 and 2019, the Russian team announced on Wednesday.

The news comes one week after Quick-Step renewed its contract with up-and-coming sprinter Fernando Gaviria, and just days after Katusha’s sprinter Alexander Kristoff announced his plans to ride for team UAE in 2018.

“I am looking forward to racing with the team and especially with Tony [Martin] and some of the other German riders,” Kittel wrote on his personal website.

Kittel, 29, had an outstanding 2017 Tour de France, winning five stages last month and holding the sprinters’ green jersey for 12 days before being forced to withdraw from the race after a crash on the 17th stage in the Alps. The German ace said he made the move to Katusha in part because of Quick-Step’s dedication to Gaviria, who won four stages of this year’s Giro d’Italia. The 22-year-old Colombian will likely ride the 2018 Tour de France, which could put Quick-Step in a position to choose which sprinter to take.

Kittel said Quick-Step management could not guarantee that he—and not Gaviria—would be the team sprinter for the Tour de France.

“The team management could not give me a definite answer and I can understand that,” Kittel said. “After Fernando Gaviria won four stages of the Giro, he will of course also want to be at the start of the Tour.”

The move to Katusha is a logical one for the German sprinter. The Russian squad has a German co-sponsor in Alpecin, and its roster already includes multiple German riders, such as Tony Martin, Rick Zabel, Nils Politt, and Marco Haller. Those four riders also feature prominently in the team’s sprint train.

“I look forward to the new challenge and—especially great—a totally German team for the sprints,” Kittel wrote.

Co-sponsor Alpecin makes hair care products, including a line of caffeinated shampoo. Kittel, who sports a vertical blond coif hairstyle, has the description “I love speed, sprinting, and hair” in his Twitter bio.

Kittel thanked his previous employers for helping him recover from a virus that plagued him in 2015 and saw him miss that year’s Tour de France due to poor form.

“I got some great support over the last two years and was able to get back to my previous best after my horror year in 2015,” he added.

His five wins this year made him the most successful German stage winner in the world’s most prestigious bike race. Kittel will be linking up with Martin again after the pair raced together for the German-based Energie Team 10 years ago as juniors, while they also spent last season together at Quick-Step.

The post Kittel leaves Quick-Step for Katusha appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Marcel Kittel leaves Quick-Step Floors to join Katusha-Alpecin for 2018 season

German sprinter joins Katusha-Alpecin on two-year deal

Marcel Kittel wins stage 11 of the Tour de France

Marcel Kittel will leave Quick-Step Floors at the end of the 2017 season, joining Katusha-Alpecin on a two-year deal as a replacement for Alexander Kristoff.

Quick-Step Floors Cycling TeamWhat a memorable #TDF2017 Marcel…

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team

What a memorable #TDF2017 Marcel Kittel has had! Thanks, GoPro and Velon CC for this spectacular behind-the-scenes and race footage!

Transfer rumors: Quintana to Sky? Aru to UAE? Sure, why not

The silly season has begun in earnest.

With many of the peloton’s top stars signing contract extensions and no major team closures or arrivals for 2018, it seemed that it would be a fairly quiet transfer market this year.

Things have quickly heated up in cycling’s annual game of musical chairs.

In a Tour de France that’s seen more rumors than attacks, the biggest thing making waves Wednesday morning in the paddock was a blockbuster report out of Colombia.

Colombian radio reported that Nairo Quintana is unhappy at Movistar and wants to break his contract with one year remaining. Citing “unnamed sources,” Astana and Sky are reportedly courting the Colombian superstar.

As far as rumors go, this is a big one. First off, Movistar has Quintana under contract through 2019, and would not be keen to see its franchise rider leave easily. Most big-name rider contracts have a big buy-out clause written into the deals, so that means it would be expensive. And finally Movistar, the Spain-based telecommunications giant, uses Quintana to promote its brand in the growing South American mobile phone market.

Is Quintana leaving Movistar? Maybe, but not until he finishes out his contract through 2018.

On Wednesday, Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué told ITV’s Daniel Friebe that Quintana “is with us 100 percent for 2018.”

When VeloNews editor-in-chief Fred Dreier asked Sky principal Dave Brailsford about the Quintana transfer rumor, he laughed it off and said, “Brilliant, along with the rest of the peloton.”

“We’re a friendly team and open to all comers. I’m sure Nairo and his agent will be in touch,” Brailsford said. “Everything is for speculation at this point.”

One Sky rider at the center of all kinds of transfer speculation is Mikel Landa. The Spanish all-rounder said this week, “wherever I go, I don’t want to be the second man anymore.”

Several teams have offered deals to Landa, reportedly Trek-Segafredo, Astana, Movistar, and UAE-Emirates. Many see Landa moving to Movistar, where he would take over as the franchise rider from Alejandro Valverde and the possibly-exiting Quintana. In an interview with El País, Unzué did his best to walk the tightrope on Landa, only saying, “any team would be interested in a rider of his qualities.”

The big player this year on the rider market is UAE-Emirates, which has pulled out the checkbook for 2018. Flush with petro-dollars, the new-look team that morphed out of the separation of Lampre-Merida last season is looking to step up. Sources say the team is expanding its budget to $30 million, which would put it alongside Team Sky with the biggest budget in the peloton.

That kind of money attracts attention. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Fabio Aru, Daniel Martin, and Elia Viviani are all linked to the expanded UAE-Emirates program for 2018. That sounds more like a wish list at this point.

Aru is said to be deep into negotiations to stay with Astana. The Kazakh-backed team will want to keep the budding Italian star in its stable, and is said to be offering a healthy contract to keep him in-house. Jakob Fuglsang will also reportedly stay with Astana.

Viviani is said to be unhappy at Sky after being left off the Giro d’Italia squad, and is shopping for a team that will give him more support in the sprints.

Martin, meanwhile, will be fetching a higher price following a breakthrough Tour de France that is confirming his grand tour capability despite being impacted by a back injury.

The key to Martin’s future is Quick-Step Floors. The entire squad at the Belgian outfit is off-contract at the end of 2018, but team boss Patrick Lefevere is quietly telling riders he has sponsors lined up to continue the team despite not publicly revealing it at this point.

Quick-Step has a bounty of quality riders, but it might not have the money to be able to keep all of them happy. Marcel Kittel, Julian Alaphilippe, and Fernando Gaviria are all demanding more money, and one of them could fly the coop if a nice offer comes along.

Katusha has penned a deal to keep promising Russian GC star Ilnur Zakarin, but the future of classics and sprint star Alexander Kristoff remains unresolved. There are rumors of Kittel moving into a Katusha jersey, but those remain unconfirmed at this point.

Another big talking point during this Tour has been the future of Alberto Contador. Trek-Segafredo sport director Stephen De Jongh told Dutch TV NOS this week that the 2017 Tour is Contador’s last one, something Contador quickly shot down.

“Right now, nothing is settled,” Contador said of his future. “People are talking just to talk.”

Trek-Segafredo wants to exercise its option to keep Contador for a second year, with talk of sending him to the Giro and perhaps a swansong Vuelta a España in 2018. Bauke Mollema, who stepped aside this year to give Contador a clean run at the Tour, wants his top GC position back for next season. The team is said to still be shopping for another GC rider for 2018.

BMC Racing has already extended its contract with Richie Porte, so it remains to be seen what happens with Tejay van Garderen. The team does not reveal the length of its rider contracts, but van Garderen is said to be shopping for a team that will assure him grand tour options. With BMC Racing firmly backing Porte for the Tour, the American might be changing jerseys for 2018.

Orica-Scott already has its trio of emerging talent firmly under contract — Esteban Chaves and Simon and Adam Yates — so what’s not known yet is the future of veteran Simon Gerrans. He was overlooked for the Tour this year and wants to race one more season. It’s hard to imagine the Australians not working something out to make everyone happy.

Cannondale-Drapac boss Jonathan Vaughters confirmed to Business Insider he’s looking for a new title sponsor to take over by the end of 2018. Cannondale wants to reel back its commitment and stay on as supplier but not be the title sponsor. Davide Formolo, the budding Italian star, is said to be leaving. Rigoberto Urán’s asking price, already near $1 million, will surely increase following his impressive Tour ride.

Another rider sure to change jerseys next year is French sprinter Bryan Coquard. Direct Energie left him at home during the Tour, and he’s already indicated he will join a WorldTour team in 2018. The other top French riders are under contract, with Arnaud Démare and Thibaut Pinot staying at FDJ and Romain Bardet staying at Ag2r-La Mondiale. Cofidis continues with its bet on Nacer Bouhanni.

So where do these rumors come from? Many of them are directly from rider agents, who enthusiastically stoke the rumor mill with the hopes of upping their client’s asking price. Team managers will also whisper some news or even riders themselves, especially the ones off a contract for the coming season.

Any rider without a firmed-up contract by the end of the Tour de France will start getting nervous. Teams fill up their rosters early. Every season is a game of musical chairs. There are only so many seats at the WorldTour table.

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