Marcel Kittel signs for Katusha-Alpecin; Team Sky's Elia Viviani heading to QuickStep Floors - Road Cycling UK

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Marcel Kittel signs for Katusha-Alpecin; Team Sky’s Elia Viviani heading to QuickStep Floors

Transfer merry-go-round continues as German departs QuickStep to be replaced by Italian

Marcel Kittel, who won five stages at this year’s Tour de France, has signed a two-year deal with Katusha-Alpecin for 2018 and 2019.

German sprint ace Kittel, 29, has spent the last two seasons with Patrick Lefevere’s QuickStep team, after ending his previous contract with Giant-Alpecin a year early.

But he will be reunited with the German caffeine shampoo brand next year, taking on the lead sprinter role which UAE Team Emirates-bound Alexander Kristoff will vacate in the winter.

Marcel Kittel will leave QuickStep Floors to join Katusha-Alpecin (Pic: Alex Whitehead/SWPix.com)

“I’m really looking forward to a new challenge in new colours,” the German sprinter said. “For me, this moment is exciting. With this step, I also hope to get new inspiration.

“I think, I find all the requirements in the team that I need to be strong in the sprint finals. I saw that the sprint train is functioning very well.

“Team Katusha-Alpecin has undergone a major change in recent years. I’ve been watching these changes for a long time and I think it’s good.

“That is why I am looking forward to being part of the team and share the direction they are headed.”

The move will also see him re-unite with fellow German and former QuickStep team-mate Tony Martin, and Kittel admitted Der Panzerwagen played a major role in his decision to join.

“The little icing on the cake is of course to race again in the same team with my good friend Tony Martin,” Kittel added.

“He gave me good insight into the team in my decision-making process. His opinion about the team was of course important to me.”

Kittel has claimed 26 race wins in his two seasons with QuickStep Floors so far (pic – Ansa/Matteo Bazzi/RCS Sport)

Kittel has claimed 14 wins in total this season – more than any other rider, and five ahead of Katusha-Alpecin’s best rider, Kristoff.

He has 26 in total since joining QuickStep in 2016, including twice winning the Dubai Tour overall and eight Grand Tour stage wins (six at the Tour and two at the Giro).

His Tour success has made him the most successful German rider, in terms of stage wins, ever to race at the Tour de France.

It capped a huge recovery from an injury-hit 2015 season which brought just one win and prompted his early departure from Giant-Alpecin – now Team Sunweb

The 29-year-old, who looked set to win the Tour de France’s green jersey last month until he crashed out of the race, will now look to add the 14 more wins he needs to his palmares to take him past 100 as a pro rider.

Team Sky’s Elia Viviani will move to QuickStep Floors, to fill the gap left by Kittel’s departure (pic – Sirotti)

Kittel’s departure, meanwhile, will see Team Sky’s Elia Viviani head to QuickStep Floors, who have confirmed lead-out man Fabio Sabatini is also staying with the team.

Sabatini and Viviani previously rode together at Cannondale, and together with Fernando Gaviria will lead QuickStep’s sprinting charge next season.

Viviani and Gaviria were rivals on the track, competing against each other in the omnium as Viviani won Rio 2016 gold, but the Italian is excited to now be team-mates.

“Quick-Step Floors is the best choice I could make,” he said. “When Patrick Lefevere came with this offer, I just couldn’t say no to one of the biggest teams in the world.

“I am honoured to join a squad with such a fantastic pedigree, one that has excelled in the art of sprinting over time.

“I couldn’t be happier about this transfer, so that’s why I want to thank Patrick and the entire team for this chance and their trust.

“I’m also excited about being on the same team with Fernando Gaviria, one of the fastest riders in the peloton, who I got to know from the events we raced together as opponents in the past two seasons.”

Viviani is the latest big-name rider to announce his departure from Team Sky (pic: The Tour)

Viviani is the fifth rider set to depart Team Sky this winter, with Mikel Landa heading to Movistar, Mikel Nieve going to Orica-Scott, Peter Kennaugh heading to Bora-hansgrohe and Ian Boswell, like Kittel, heading to Katusha-Alpecin.

Ian Stannard and Philip Deignan are also among the riders whose contracts are up this summer, but there has been no confirmation about their futures yet.

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