Marcel Kittel won yesterday’s Vuelta stage in a bunch sprint. The neo-pro is having a great year, he took several stages in a row at the Four Days of Dunkerque and then took consecutive wins in the Tour of Poland. Now he’s got his first grand tour stage win. And apparently he’s not even a pure sprinter, he can time trial and might develop into a classics contender.
But instead of speculating on the future, let’s go back in time. Until last year Kittel was riding for the Thüringer Energie Team in Germany. Here, he was on the same team as USA Pro Cycling Challenge prologue winner Patrick Gretsch. And he was joined by none other than John Degenkolb and Tony Martin too.
Look closely at the team launch photo above. It’s from 2007 and taken by Torsten Holz and once you’ve got over the hair gel you’ll find that’s Martin holding the bike with Kittel in his shadow and Gretsch standing second from the right. The full list of riders is here.
Thüringer Energie is a Germany subsidiary of power company EON. The team is based in the Thuringa area of Germany, roughly in the centre of the country and well-known for its forests.
The team has UCI Continental status, meaning it is a semi-professional squad able to compete at a high level. If it has produced several winners, it is racing today and there’s every reason it continues to provide the pro ranks with more talent.