Marcel Kittel ‘extremely proud’ after retaining Dubai Tour title with sprint finish

Marcel Kittel retained his Dubai Tour title on Saturday after clinching the final stage by emerging triumphant from a bunch sprint at the foot of the Burj Khalifa.

Marcel Kittel lifts the Circle of Stars trophy after winning the 2017 Dubai Tour. Mahmoud Khaled / AFP
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DUBAI // Marcel Kittel was a proud man on Saturday after defending his Dubai Tour title with another majestic sprint finish on the fifth and final stage.

Winner of the first two stages, the Quick-Step Floors rider once again timed his sprint to perfection on the 124-kilometre Meeras Stage, crossing the finish line in City Walk ahead of Team Sky’s Elia Viviani and Riccardo Minali of Astana Pro Team for the 75th stage win of his career.

“I’m extremely proud of what I achieved today — my second Dubai Tour overall in a row, my 75th career victory,” said Kittel after receiving the Circle of Stars winner’s trophy from Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“It is something special because there are not many opportunities when I have the chance to go for general classification. So yeah, I have added one more title now and that is really cool. I am really proud of that because it shows consistency over a few days, not just by myself, but also by the team.

“The season is long, but I can take a lot of confidence from this win. There will be lots of ups and downs, but I believe we have made a really good start so far.”

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The Dubai Tour had provided a great start to Kittel’s 2016 season as well. Trying to bounce back after a disappointing 2015, the German had come here as a new member of the Quick-Step team and buoyed by his two stage wins and the overall title, he went on to clinch eight more victories last season. He also won the World Team Time Trial Championships title with Quick-Step.

“Compared to a year ago, I am starting this season in a very different frame of mind,” said Kittel, when asked to compare the two Dubai wins. “One year ago, I came from a difficult 2015, when I missed a lot of race kilometres and I also missed a lot of training kilometres due to illness. Now, I have a complete season 2016 in my legs.

“It wasn’t easy in 2016, I can say that. Also, coming into a new team, you are always a bit insecure. You have to find your place a little bit, but if I can talk honestly, I had really good support and I am very happy about the way I could start my season last year.

“And with all the confidence and experience from 2016, I am starting my 2017 season now. I feel different, also stronger.

“When I came back to Dubai, I thought this is a nice race, it’s a goal for me, but I didn’t think it would go so well. The team did a really god job. It’s a very nice way to start the season.”

Mark Cavendish, the 2015 Dubai Tour champion, did not have a such a great outing this time, but the Briton was all praise for his Team Dimension Data teammates.

“I didn’t get any wins, but I think after working throughout the week, the team was incredible,” said Cavendish, who will be coming to the UAE later this month for the Abu Dhabi Tour.

“My gears wouldn’t stay into the 11 (sprocket) going from the 12. I thought I had it perfect but when I went to kick, it flicked my back wheel up. It seems that there’s something every day.

“I felt brilliant today. The team were brilliant today too. It looks like all the guys are good too. I’m better than I thought I was, so that’s alright. That’s a positive I can take.”

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