The Roar
The Roar


Kittel conquers the Giro, will the world be next?

Try stopping Marcel Kittel at the Tour de France. (Team Sky)
9th May, 2016

Marcel Kittel’s stunning start to the 2016 road cycling season has continued at the Giro d’Italia, with the Etixx-Quickstep sprinter dominating the early sprint stages.

The German powerhouse has taken the Maglia Rosa after recording an impressive fifth place on the opening day’s individual time trial and then decimating what many thought would be a solid field of rival sprinters on Stages 2 and 3.

He now has a tally of ten wins for the year and a record of never having been beaten in mass start Giro stages.

For those who can’t be bothered checking, he won the first two road stages of the 2014 Giro as well, before having to withdraw due to illness.

Interestingly enough, with the 2014 event having started in Ireland and this year’s contest only now just leaving the Netherlands, Kittel is yet to win a Giro stage on Italian soil!

That looks certain to change this year, with several flat stages still to come and a group of floundering rivals who already look psychologically damaged.

Kudos must also be given to Kittel for getting an early hand on the leader’s jersey. Unlike other sprinters, he hasn’t relied entirely on time bonuses to slip into overall race leadership. Instead, he channelled his younger self, the arrow-like youngster who won back-to-back world junior time trial titles in 2005 and 2006, to ensure a good result in the time trial on Stage 1.

There was no saving himself for later on and his effort of finishing just 11 seconds behind eventual winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) in the race against the clock certainly increased his chances of wearing the Giro’s famed pink jersey.


Even the man himself admits that it was “very special” to get the leader’s jersey on the back of a good time trial performance.

He could now potentially hold the jersey until the first real mountains are breached on Stage 6. That’s a successful start to a Grand Tour no matter which way you look at it.

The only thing that could possibly derail Kittel’s stellar Giro is bad luck or illness. He has been fragile at Grand Tours in the past and has only completed two of the five that he has started (excluding this Giro). His first Tour de France was ruined by illness and we have already mentioned his early exit from the 2014 Giro.

Having said that, in the periods between his illnesses he has managed to rack up eight Tour stage victories to go with his four Giro wins. He also has a Vuelta a Espana win to his credit, so he knows how to win on the biggest of stages and against the best of opposition.

If Kittel’s golden vein of form continues, then surely he has to be a lock for leadership of the German team at the Qatar world road cycling championships later in the year. His main rival for leadership duties will be fellow sprinter and compatriot Andre Greipel, with both riders being suited to the pan-flat course that will sweep through the desert before looping around the streets of Doha.

Both would be worthy leaders and Germany is in the enviable position of having the luxury to choose who will be their number one. Their support would be good too! John Degenkolb and Tony Martin make handy domestiques.

At this stage, Kittel would have to have his nose in front for leadership.


When asked about his prospects Kittel said, “The only thing I can do for now is provide good reasons why I should be included in the team.”

He has already done that and more, even if the worlds are still five months away.

There was a time not so long ago when road cycling was quite predictable. If there was a sprint, Mark Cavendish would win. If there was an individual time trial, Fabian Cancellara would probably salute. If there was a general classification to be decided, then Alberto Contador was your man.

Those days are gone, but when pressed for a favourite to win the next sprint at the Giro, most fans and experts would say Kittel. In fact, on current form he could win another three or four.

He could also be our next world champion.

Those who don’t agree haven’t been paying attention.