A perfectly-executed sprint landed Marcel Kittel his ninth victory of the season, and his fifth in the Ster ZLM Toer, capping off an impressive week for Quick-Step Floors at the Dutch race. The German kicked off at 150 meters to go and held off the challenge of Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), crossing the finish line a bike length clear of his opponent to give the team its 32nd UCI win of the year.
Quick-Step Floors stamped its authority on stage 4 (Oss – Oss, 180.9 kilometers), controlling the original escape and the solo attacks which followed in the last 20 kilometers, before delivering Marcel Kittel in an ideal position from which he launched his trademark devastating sprint.
Our team was a key player also in the general classification, where 21-year-old Laurens De Plus finished third, just 13 seconds down on winner Jose Goncalves (Katusha-Alpecin), courtesy of a sterling effort on the race’s queen-stage, while neo-pro Maximilian Schachmann closed out the race in fourth place, his best outing since turning pro in January, both results coming as a confirmation of what’s to come in the future from the two youngsters.
“It was a nice and quiet day on the bike, and I must say it was quite unusual to ride in the Netherlands and don’t face any strong winds. The guys rode a perfect race today; we took the front early, because we knew we had to be there before the last kilometer on this type of finish. I’m happy I could capitalize on my team’s fine job and get a nice victory two weeks from the start of the Tour de France, especially after the bad luck I had on the first road stage here”, said Marcel Kittel after the race which saw Quick-Step Floors finish at the top of the team standings, which the squad led ever since day one.
From here, the 29-year-old sprinter will go home, before making his fifth consecutive appearance at the National Championships, scheduled next Sunday: “I’m excited about racing the Nationals, although it’s always an unpredictible affair, and with just two guys in the race it will be impossible to control it. But together with Max we will give our best out there and try to play our card. If it doesn’t end up in a bunch sprint, then I’ll come out of this with the joy of riding in front of my home fans and adding some extra kilometers under the belt before the Tour de France.”