Kittel makes grade in Qatar.
On stage down in the Qatar, sprinter Marcel Kittel proved his was back, winning the sprint and beating rival Mark Cavendish. After a lost year of illness and questions about his motivation, the big German answered the critics and doubter.
However it was on stage 3, the climb up to the Hatta Dam, that Kittel went even further. on the 17% grade, the Etixx-Quickstep rider lugged his 82kg body up that climb to finish third and keep himself in contention for the overall win tomorrow in the final stage of the Tour of Qatar.
His first stage win signaled he had his speed and confident back. The impressive work on at Hatta Dam confirmed something even more critical, and for his rivals such as Cavendish, something scary. Kitten has his mental strength and drive back.
Kittel’s success down in the desert signals that he will be a dominant force in every WorldTour sprint of 2016. And for a man who has four Tour de France stages from 2103 and another for from the 2014 edition, that is exciting news. Etixx-Quickstep boss must have a crazy grin on his face, after unloading Cavendish and bringing in Kittel. So far that plan is working to absolute perfection.
There’s some symmetry to events that bring Kittel full circle. His long battle with illness began last year at the Tour Down Under but it was in Qatar where he went too deep too early and knocked out his immune system. He’s spend the rest of the 2015 season trying to get healthy and recover his form. He missed the Tour de France and scratched most of the racing calendar. Now however, he finds himself back in Qatar at full strength and full speed.
Kittle has already won on several levels in the Tour of Qatar. He’s back physically and mentally and that is quite a successful comeback.