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Kittel and Katusha-Alpecin mutually terminate contract

Rider ends time with team after difficult 18 months that brought just two victories

Joe Robinson
9 May 2019

Marcel Kittel and his Katusha-Alpecin team have agreed to mutually terminate the rider's contract, bringing an end to his torrid season with the squad.

The team confirmed in a press release that the contract would cease with immediate effect and included a long statement from Kittel explaining why he would be stepping away.

The 30-year-old cited an inability to 'train and race at the highest level' for his decision, and added: 'I believe that everyone has his strengths and weaknesses and that it is an ongoing process to deal with them within a team to be strong and successful.

'In the last two months, I have had the feeling of being exhausted. At this moment, I am not able to train and race at the highest level. For this reason, I have decided to take a break and take time for myself, think about my goals and make a plan for my future.'

The 14-time Tour de France stage winner then went on to thank the team for their support over the last 18 months and apologised for the lack of results he had produced during his time with Katusha.

His statement continued: 'I´ve taken this decision based on my experience that changes lead you to new paths and opportunities. Despite all the insecurities I've got confidence that I ultimately will find new chances and challenges.

'From now on I will put my happiness and joy above everything and seek ways to find this also in my future. I would like to ride and race again in the future and I have to work out a plan to be able to reach this goal.'

Kittel has managed only two victories since the start of 2018 when he joined Katusha.  This year, the German took victory at the Trofeo Palma although failed to capitalise on this early win, subsequently abandoning from Paris-Nice in March before withdrawing from the Tour de Yorkshire earlier this month.

Speculation had arisen around Kittel's attitude with team sports director Dirk Demol confirming that 'crisis talks' had been held to discuss the rider's future.

This followed on from fellow sports director Dimitri Konyshev telling L'Equipe that Kittel had been playing on his phone during a team meeting at the Tour de France in an attempt to show he had no interest in what Konyshev was saying.

While the team has been far from impressed with Kittel, they have attempted to leave the relationship on amicable terms. Team general manager Jose Azevedo wished the rider well in the future and sympathised with the issues he is currently facing.

'It is with sadness that we have agreed with Marcel’s request to step away from the team and from racing. We understand the situation in which Marcel is and we fully support him in this difficult time,' said Azevedo.

'All the team members will continue supporting Marcel in the future and we hope that he will soon get back to racing as the champion he is.'