The German sprinter Marcel Kittel has agreed to have his contract with Katusha Alpecin terminated early by mutual consent. Kittel thanked his team for their support over the last 18 months, citing exhaustion and not feeling able to compete at the highest level as reasons for the decision.
Kittel's statement in full on Katusha Alpecin's website says: “On my request Team Katusha Alpecin and I have mutually decided to an early termination of my current contract.
"It was for me a long decision process where I raised a lot of questions about how and where I want to go as a person and athlete and what is really important to me. I love cycling and my passion for this beautiful sport is never gone, but I also know what it requires from me and what I need to do to be successful. 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.
"At this point I'd like to thank the team for the last 1.5 years and their support. Especially I'd like to thank the team staff. From the bottom of my heart I can say that they are the best and hardest working people that I've ever seen. I'm sorry that I couldn't fuel your passion with more wins and results. I'd like to thank the sponsors and partners as well that keep believing in the team with their support and knowledge.
"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´m very excited about what is going to come. 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.
"This is the biggest challenge of my career and I'm accepting it.”
Katusha's manager José Azevedo said: “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. 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.
"On behalf of Team Katusha Alpecin and all its sponsors and partners we wish Marcel all the best for the future.”
Kittel had a stellar 2017 at Etixx–Quick-Step, when he won five Tour de France stages and appeared unstoppable; however since his move last year the German hasn't been able to recapture any of that form, with his only stage wins in 2018 coming at the Tirreno–Adriatico.
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He joined road.cc in 2017, having previously worked for 220 Triathlon magazine. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.