Giant-Shimano: Ster ZLM Toer
Marcel Kittel (GER) returns to racing this week at the Ster ZLM Toer in his final preparation for the Tour de France.
Following the same program as in 2013, Kittel comes into this race following a period of high-altitude training and will be looking to fine tune his form before the Tour which is just weeks away.
The world’s best sprinters often come to this race in preparation for the Tour given the sprint opportunities that are on offer. Kittel won a stage last year as well as taking many high placings and will be looking for a timely confidence boost before heading to the biggest race of the season.
He will be joined by trusty lead-out man Tom Veelers (NED) as well as Bert De Backer (BEL), Tom Stamsnijder (NED) and Albert Timmer (NED) who also return to racing after the Giro d’Italia.
Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE) also starts this five-day race after returning to racing last Thursday following his fall in Italy. The team is completed by the ‘breakaway killer’, Cheng Ji (CHN) and the team’s road captain at the race, Roy Curvers (NED).
The race gets underway with a short and flat 7km individual time trial which is followed on day two by the first sprint opportunity of the race. This will be a chance to work on some lead-out skills and teamwork heading into one of Kittel and the team’s big objectives of the season.
Team Giant-Shimano coach Rudi Kemna (NED) said ahead of the race: “We have two objectives for this race, the first being to go for the sprints with Marcel and to test his form ahead of the Tour, and then to go for the GC with Tobias.
“Tobias is coming back from injury so we are unsure of how his body will react but we will try here to go for a good result with him.
“There are three clear sprint opportunities for the team here and it will be a good chance to get the sprint formation back up to speed around Marcel.”
Roy Curvers (NED)
Bert De Backer (BEL)
Cheng Ji (CHN)
Marcel Kittel (GER)
Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE)
Tom Stamsnijder (NED)
Albert Timmer (NED)
Tom Veelers (NED).
Rudi Kemna (NED).