‘I really wanted this’: Marcel Kittel announces return with Dubai Tour victory

Marcel Kittel won his first race with new team Etixx-Quick-Step on Saturday as he turned the page on a difficult 2015 by winning the Dubai Tour.

DUBAI // In the shadow of Burj Khalifa, Marcel Kittel of Etixx-Quick-Step produced one last trademark dash to the line to win the Business Bay Stage and with it the Dubai Tour.

Kittel, 27, a rising star in cycling who suffered through a season hurt by illness last year, began 2016 victoriously as he edged Giacomo Nizzolo of Trek-Segafredo by four seconds and Stage 3 winner Juan Jose Lobato of Movistar Team by six seconds.

Overnight leader Nizzolo needed to finish second to win the Tour but came in sixth.

Kittel had taken the opening stage of the third edition of the race, as well, and his Etixx-Quick-Step team tweeted after the conclusion: “What a great start to the season for @marcelkittel with our team! 3 victories in 4 days! #WayToRide”, alluding to the two stage victories and overall race triumph.

Kittel himself said after the race: “I’m really, really happy. I was dreaming about this moment. I really wanted this.

“My team was fantastic all day and we did an incredible job to beat all the other teams, staying calm and attacking at the right moment. “

Kittel, who won eight stages between the 2013-14 Tours de France and another pair of stages at the 2014 Giro d’Italia, was shut out last season from adding to his grand tour tally by a protracted battle with a virus.

He effectively did not compete again after an early June race in the Netherlands, and subsequently switched to Etixx from Team Giant-Alpecin for this season.

Relishing a revitalised outlook, Kittel added: “I’m incredibly proud to start 2016 like this. This win in Dubai is a perfect base to start the season.

“We hoped it would happen like this and it’s amazing. My confidence is a thousand times higher than one year ago.”

In the sprint finish, Elia Viviani of Sky was runner-up to take second place in the final stage, while last year’s winner Mark Cavendish of Dimension Data finished third.

Kittel said that on the flat final stage his team were well aware of the strength of the Italian sprinters but had no specific plan to stop Nizzolo.

“We said that we will fully concentrate on the final sprint and it’s what we did,” he said. “It was all or nothing and we really wanted to put all our efforts into winning the last stage and the jersey. There was also lots of luck involved, but I am super proud of this achievement.”

Kittel had claimed the Dubai Silicon Oasis stage on Wednesday, and previously won three stages at the inaugural Dubai Tour in 2014.

“I like coming here, it’s a great race to start the season, especially for us sprinters to test our lead-out skills.”

The Moroccan Soufiane Haddi of Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team – Al Ahli Club won the White Jersey for the best young rider. “It was tough for me, and there were other dangerous teams challenging, like Al Nasr, but through the efforts of my team we managed to keep this jersey,” he said.

* With agencies

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