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In another blow for Marcel Kittel, the Giant-Alpecin sprinter has been left off the German team for the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia next month.
Instead, the Germans will count on John Degenkolb (Giant) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) to lead the nine-man squad in the elite men’s road race September 27.
“The team is built around the course conditions of Richmond, with the dual leadership of Degenkolb and Greipel,” German cycling federation official Udo Sprengen said on Rad-net.de. “We have our goals set on medals.”
Sprengen revealed a long list of 14 names for the elite men’s road race, and Kittel was not among them. Also missing was German national champion Emanuel Buchmann, a young climber who would not do well on the flat, classics-style course in Richmond.
The news is another blow for Kittel, who’s suffered through poor form and results all season long.
Kittel dominated the mass sprints in 2013 and 2014, winning eight stages in the Tour de France in a two-year span, but has won only once in 2015, with a stage victory at the Tour of Poland earlier this month. He was overlooked by Giant in all three grand tours this season, creating speculation that the 27-year-old could exit the team.
Instead of racing the Vuelta, he missed the winning group at the Vattenfall Cyclassics Sunday in Germany, riding across the line a distant 91st. Kittel is scheduled to race GP Ouest Plouay-France this weekend.
The news is a boon for Greipel, whose near-perfect season continued Sunday with victory in the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Germany, confirming the Lotto-Soudal rider’s credentials for next month’s world championships.
Lotto-Soudal officials confirmed to VeloNews that Greipel has high hopes for the worlds. After racing both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France this year, Greipel skipped the Vuelta a España and will race next at the Tour of Britain (September 6-13).
Greipel’s ambitions will add both depth and division within the German ranks. On paper, the Richmond course is ideal for Degenkolb, who makes no bones about his rainbow jersey ambitions. Greipel’s inclusion comes at the expense of Kittel, but gives Germany a second card to play in what will be one of the strongest and deepest squads for the Richmond worlds.
Greipel has raced five world championships, with a career-best third behind Mark Cavendish and Matt Goss in 2011 at Copenhagen. He was 43rd in 2010, and did not finish in 2008, 2009, and 2014. Next year’s sprinter’s course in Qatar will suit him even better.
Degenkolb, who won Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix in his spectacular spring classics campaign this year, will be one of the five-star favorites for Richmond. Twice a medalist in the under-23 ranks (third in 2008, second in 2010), Degenkolb just missed a medal in Valkenburg in 2012 with a fourth, and collapsed into tears at the finish line in Ponferrada last year with a ninth.
Degenkolb is racing the Vuelta to hone his worlds form, dashing to third behind Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) in Monday’s third stage. After missing out on a stage victory at the Tour, Degenkolb will be hunting for a victory at the Spanish grand tour before a likely early exit to prepare for Richmond.
Also selected for the German team was Tour stage winner Simon Geschke (Giant) and three-time world time trial champion Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step).
Lineups for the women’s, U23, and junior teams have not yet been revealed.
Long list for German elite men for Richmond (nine will race):
Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin)
Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing)
John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin)
Johannes Frohlinger (Giant-Alpecin)
Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin)
Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r La Mondiale)
André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal)
Christian Knees (Sky)
Paul Martens (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step)
Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Argon 18)
Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Soudal)
Jasha Sutterlin (Movistar)
Paul Voss (Bora-Argon 18)