With two training camps behind him on Mallorca, Marcel Kittel raced to victory in Trofeo Palma on Sunday, securing his first win of the season and giving the German sprinter a much-needed boost of confidence.
Kittel: “I am very, very happy. This is more than just winning a stage here, it is also a little comeback after last year. In the last few days I could feel that my legs were good and I’m very happy that I could give this victory to my teammates as well as the confidence it gives to me at the start of the season. It’s very important. The team protected me so well. They all stayed with me during the difficult climb and I’m very happy.”
The series of one-day races came to an end today with the Trofeo Palma, 159.6k from Playa de Palma to Palma. A challenging climb with 40k to go saw teamwork play into the tactics and set up Kittel for success. Erik Zabel, team performance manager, explained the strategy behinds today’s victory:
“During the training camp we did this climb and then Marcel came alone four days ago to do it again. I think it was important that he had the confidence that he could do it. Before dinner last night we had a short meeting and asked him how he felt. He was very optimistic, and this morning too. So we asked the climbers to stay close to him on the climb to protect him and bring him over the climb. The team worked so well together, and in the end, he did a great sprint.”
Joining Kittel on the podium for second and third places were Timothy Dupont of Wanty-Groupe Gobert 85 and Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis), all on the same time of 3:45:23 (42.49 km/h).
Sports director Claudio Cozzi brimmed with pride from the day’s efforts: “We saw during training camp that Kittel was in good condition and that today’s shorter stage would be a good opportunity for him. It wasn’t simple because of the climb with 40k to go, so we dedicated the full team to him. Even the climbers stayed with him to help pass the climb and we came down in good position.”
Erik Zabel concluded: “I’ve been working closely with Marcel for 3 months now and I’ve liked everything I’ve seen so far. Since the first of December we have been training and focused on this new season, not looking back, and today was a nice moment to see the results of everyone’s efforts.”