Dubai: One of cycling’s stars-in-waiting has promised to do everything in his power to resurrect the image of his sport.
Germany’s Marcel Kittel, a member of Team Giant-Shimano who is here for the Tour of Dubai this weekend, told Gulf News: “The most important thing for us young riders is to show that we are different. We need to show that we are here to fight for our voice and that we do not want to be compared to those riders who have cheated or are cheating. We are ready to fight for our idea of cycling and we want to make clear what we want.”
The inugural Dubai event will be held in four stages from Wednesday to Saturday.
A winner of last month’s People’s Choice Classic in Adelaide, South Australia, the 25-year-old native of Arnstadt is keen to see what measures can be taken to rid cycling of its many controversies, primarily the scourge of doping.
“Our team philosophy is very clear,” said Kittel, who won four stages in last year’s Tour de France. “We want high professional sport that is clean and we live that philosophy. And that’s exactly what we try to show spectators, other riders and anyone who is interested in our sport of cycling.”
Former seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong’s life-time ban from competitive cycling in 2012 after he admitted to doping offences has put the profile of the sport under a cloud. However, since then cycling has battled to clean up its image, and it has succeeded to a certain extent.
“I think we’ve taken some very good steps in the last couple of years by getting the truth out on the doping in cycling,” Kittel said. “It was important for all to know how it happened so that future generations do not make the same mistakes all over again.
“I want to make one thing very clear: I am not sitting here and sayng cycling is completely clean of doping. There are people who are always trying to take shortcuts to success. But I do believe we have made very good progress and cycling is one of the leaders when it comes to anti-doping.”
However, all is not lost as Kittel continues endorsing the clean side of cycling. “I hope that when we keep on fighting for our idea and thinking and then only can we really change things and the scenario,” he said. “A lot of steps have been taken already, especially when you compare the sport from now and ten years back.
“The whole environment has changed. When you look at Armstrong, today we know that it was more of a team philosophy to cheat. But today we have a team and teammates that believe in a completely different philosophy. And for me, this is the most important aspect that has changed in cycling.”