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SCHOTEN, Belgium (VN) — Marcel Kittel dreams to race and to win a stage at the Tour de France. Today, with his win in the Scheldeprijs against Tyler Farrar, he moved closer to realizing it.
“I’m pretty sure we can win a stage there,” he said. “That’s the goal.”
Kittel (Argos-Shimano) raced into Schoten’s center today just outside of Antwerp to claim his biggest win of the season. “The first big objective of the season,” he said. He’d already won a stage in the Three Days of De Panne one week ago, two in the Tour of Oman and one in Etoile de Bessèges.
Fans started to hear Kittel’s name last year thanks to 17 wins, particularly a stage in the Vuelta a España. He pointed to that stage win in Talavera de la Reina, Spain, as an example of what is possible when the team works together.
“With the team I have as support, a stage win is possible for us,” he said, still smelling of victory Champagne. “We have to look for challenges and big goals. Last year it was the same at the Vuelta. Everyone put all their faith in the possibility of doing it. We were able to pull it off. With that same intention, we will go to the Tour de France.”
The 23-year-old turned professional last year with Skil-Shimano and went on a rampage, winning stages in Malaysia, France, Australia, Poland, Holland and at home in Germany. The team started off this year as Project 1t4i until it announced a new title sponsor, petroleum company Argos last week. Tour de France director, Christian Prudhomme was at the launch.
Prudhomme’s presence was a good sign for Argos’ invitation to the big stage race this July. It’s one of a handful of second division teams aiming for one of the four wildcard slots to take the start with the 18 WorldTour teams. Dutch media says it is a done deal and that we only need to wait for Prudhomme’s official word.
“It looks good, but in the end, nothing is official,” Kittel said. “Of course, if we get an invitation, then it’s my biggest goal of the season.”
Kittel takes a bit of a breather now even if he’s fond of Paris-Roubaix. On the horizon is the Tour of Turkey and a run-up to what he hopes is his Tour de France debut.