Marcel Kittel “ready”, John Degenkolb “excited” ahead of Tour de France start
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Marcel Kittel “ready”, John Degenkolb “excited” ahead of Tour de France start

by Ben Atkins at 6:11 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Argos-Shimano’s German sprinters anxious to put new techniques into action on stage one

marcel kittelArgos-Shimano’s German sprinters, Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb, have declared themselves “100 percent ready” and “really excited” respectively, ahead of Saturday’s Tour de France start. The two German sprinters will be the focus of the Dutch team’s energies during the three-week race, and are taking aim at the first stage finish in Bastia; the winner of which will receive the very first Maillot Jaune of the 100th Tour de France.

This year will be Kittel’s second appearance at the Tour but, having abandoned the race on stage five after suffering from illness throughout, 2013 will effectively be his debut. Having recently beaten both Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) at the Ster ZLM Toer, the 25-year-old will be among the favourites on the opening day.

“I’m really looking forward to the first stage, as it is perfect for our team,” said Kittel. “We are 100 percent ready to take up the challenge and battle against the other teams. Together with the experts we have prepared ourselves really well, with altitude training camps, races and sprint analyses, so mentally and physically we are ready.

john degenkolb“It’s great that John Degenkolb is also on the team,” Kittel added. “We’ve been friends for a long time and know each other very well. We try to help each other reach a higher level by training and racing together. Degenkolb will do the hillier stages and I’ll target the flat stages.”

For Degenkolb this will be a genuine Tour de France debut, having ridden two editions of the Vuelta a España and one of the Giro d’Italia. After taking five stages in last year’s Vuelta, however, and one in this year’s Giro that saw him sprint for almost the entire final kilometre, the 24-year-old feels ready and is looking forward to it.

“I am really excited to be here for my first Tour de France,” Degenkolb said. “After really good preparation I feel that I am ready for it. Coach Adriaan Helmantel introduced us to a new sprint training technique, based on some new research, and I really think it will benefit us.

“We will be aiming for the first stage with Marcel, and there might be some chances for me in the second and third stages,” Degenkolb added. “First things first, though. We’ll see how it goes Saturday, and after that we’ll make a plan for stages 2 and 3.”

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