It has been a race to forget for Marcel Kittel and his Giant-Shimano sprint train. After crashing late on stage two – and taking out his anger on his bike – Kittel was again out of contention on stage three as he eventually rolled in nine minutes after stage winner Peter Sagan.
And after two difficult days in the mountains, where team-mate Simon Geschke performed superbly to finish second behind Alberto Contador having stayed out from the day’s break, Kittel was unable to contend for stage six honours either.
The German was dropped as Cannondale put the hurt on over the day’s climbs, and his entire sprint train were dropped again moments after pulling him back into the main bunch.
It is becoming a recurring theme for Giant-Shimano, with the Tour Down Under offering a similarly disappointing return for Kittel. Indeed, in 11 road stages in his two WorldTour races this season, Kittel’s best finish is 72nd. But write the German off at your peril – three consecutive stage victories at the Dubai Tour proved he is still one of the fastest sprinters in the world. It has not quite clicked on the WorldTour stage yet this season, but it will.