Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) will swap Tirreno-Adriatico for Paris-Nice this month as he looks to get his sprint firing again this season. Kittel had been penned in for the Italian race but made a late decision to ride Paris-Nice due to its higher number of sprint stages.
After a difficult 2018 campaign, which brought in just two wins, Kittel got his year off to a strong start with victory at the Trofeo Palma, his second race of the year. He has come close to adding a second with a runner-up spot at the Clasica de Almeria and third in a blanket bunch finish on stage 5 of the UAE Tour.
Kittel is expected to line-up alongside Ilnur Zakarin at Paris-Nice, but the Russian is an uncertainty after he fell sick following the penultimate stage of the UAE Tour. Paris-Nice will offer up three more clear-cut opportunities for Kittel, compared to the more classics-style Tirreno-Adriatico parcours.
“I think that it was a very nice start to the season and everyone was happy, I was happy, and I still am happy about that. It’s a good motivation for what is coming,” Kittel told Cyclingnews of his opening victory in Mallorca.
“I will try to follow my race plan as good as possible, I want to go for the victories and good performances together with the team. My next race will be Paris-Nice, that’s a change that we made [last] week, so I will go there.”
Mallorca, at the end of January, marked his return to racing after more than five months. Kittel called a premature end to his year following his abandon at the Deutschland Tour at the end of August, with just an appearance at the Saitama and Shanghai Criteriums in November breaking up the long hiatus.
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