Kittel Quits Team, Will Take a Break From Pro Cycling
- Racer Marcel Kittel will take a break from pro cycling, his team announced on Thursday.
- The German sprinter terminated his contract with Katusha–Alpecin ahead of the Amgen Tour of California.
- Kittel, who hasn’t raced since April, said he plans to return to cycling after reflecting on his goals and future.
German cycling star Marcel Kittel has terminated his contract with the UCI WorldTeam Katusha–Alpecin and will take a break from the sport, the team announced on Thursday.
The 30-year-old sprint specialist and 14-time Tour de France stage winner has not raced since early April amid ongoing fitness problems. His contract had been slated to expire at the end of the season.
“At this moment, I am not able to train and race at the highest level,” Kittel said in a statement on the Katusha–Alpecin website. “I have decided to take a break and take time for myself, think about my goals, and make a plan for my future.”
Kittel won the Trofeo Palma, a one-day race in Mallorca, Spain, in February but hasn’t taken any titles since. In his last professional appearance on April 10, Kittel finished 99th in the Scheldeprijs, a race he has won five times in his career.
He pulled out of the Amgen Tour of California start list on Wednesday, before announcing his decision to go on a hiatus the following day. This week we speculated that Kittel wouldn’t start in the 2019 Tour de France, and indeed this marks the second time in his career that he won’t appear on his team’s Tour roster.
Kittel said the decision to step away was the biggest challenge of his career so far, though he insisted that he wanted to return to cycling in the future.
“It was, for me, a long decision process where I raised a lot of questions about how and where I want to go as a person and athlete and what is really important to me,” he said.
This article originally appeared on bicycling.com.