German sprinter Marcel Kittel is returning to the Tour of California five years after making his debut in the race and will look to add at least a victory to his 2017 tally, which has seen him win seven races so far, including the Dubai Tour general classification and a record fifth Scheldeprijs.
New Zealand National ITT Champion Jack Bauer, neo-pros Enric Mas and Maximilian Schachmann, Fabio Sabatini, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin and Martin Velits will join him on the Quick-Step Floors for the race where they took the GC win in 2016 and have won a total of ten stage victories in previous participations.
David De La Cruz, who won stages at Paris-Nice and Vuelta al Pais Vasco this season, was down to start the 12th edition of the US race, which this year has been elevated to World Tour category, but will be forced to skip it due to pulmonitis and hence has been replaced by Schachmann, who impressed at last month’s Tour de Romandie.
The 12th edition of the race will visit 12 cities, with Sacramento hosting the start of the race, on May 14, and Pasadena welcoming the riders for the final leg, one week later. The sprinters will have four big chances to fight for victories and the green jersey for the points classification, but it will once again be the climbers and the all-rounders who’ll be challenging for the overall victory.
“It’s nice to be back in California. This is a race we like and in which we’ve had plenty of success in the past, and which at the same time is becoming harder by the year, even more now that is part of the World Tour”, said Quick Step Floors Directeur Sportif Brian Holm.
“Unfortunately, Julian Alaphilippe, who won the 2016 edition, won’t be here due to a knee injury, while David De La Cruz, who was supposed to be our man for the general classification, is also out due to health problems. Despite this, we still have a good team, with Marcel Kittel, who has a fair chance of winning a stage, and young neo-pro Enric Mas, who I’m very curious to see how will climb on Mt. Baldy, so all-in-all, we are confident.”