PARIS (Reuters) - German sprinter Marcel Kittel will not take part in the Tour de France after failing to fully recover from a virus, his Giant-Alpecin team said on Thursday.
“The team decided that Kittel’s basic fitness is still not sufficient to compete in the Tour de France,” the Dutch team said in a statement as they unveiled their nine-man squad for the July 4-26 race.
Kittel won four stages in last year’s Tour, including the prestigious finale on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
Giant-Alpecin will be led by one-day classic specialist German John Degenkolb, who won two of the season’s most prestigious races, Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix.
Kittel’s absence also means the team could ride in support of French prospect Warren Barguil, who will be targeting a stage win in the mountains.
The 23-year-old Barguil, making his Tour de France debut, finished eighth in last year’s Tour of Spain.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond