Kittel signs for Etixx – Quick

German sprinter Marcel Kittel has joined the Belgium-based Etixx – Quick-Step team on a two-year contract.

EQS boss Patrick Lefevere said Kittel, 27, was “one of the best sprinters in the history of the sport” and praised his “incredible pure speed”.

His signing was confirmed in Milan at the 2016 Giro d’Italia route presentation, an event at which Ivan Basso announced his retirement.

The Italian, 37, has recently recovered from testicular cancer.

A two-time winner of the Giro, Basso had been

expected to return

following successful surgery but has instead opted to take a managerial position with the Tinkoff-Saxo team he joined last year.

“Every athlete knows that his light will not shine bright throughout his career,” said Basso, who twice finished on the podium at the Tour de France.

“Inevitably, at some stage it will start dimming and it’s the sign of a wise athlete to know when the moment has come to turn it off.”

Kittel, meanwhile, moves to EQS a week after British rival Mark Cavendish left to join Team Dimension Data.

Born in East Germany, he won eight Tour de France stages across the 2013 and 2014 races.

Kittel has spent the past five years at Giant-Alpecin, who released him from his contract one year early.

“We are sure that, together, we can achieve more big goals,” said Lefevere.

Analysis – BBC Sport’s Matt Slater

Kittel should still have his best years ahead of him. His 2015 season was ruined by illness and injury – a situation that led to a fraying of his relationship with Giant-Alpecin, which became public when he was not selected for this summer’s Tour de France.

Writing on his personal website this weekend, Kittel said he decided to leave when he realised “the team has changed and wants to go in a new direction”. That would appear to be a greater focus on the general classification in Grand Tours, with riders such as Tom Dumoulin and Warren Barguil, than prioritising Kittel’s sprint train.

He should not encounter that problem at EQS as their superstar cast still lacks a genuine contender for overall victory at a three-week race. He will also benefit from riding with his close friend Tony Martin and for a set-up which has just added a new German sponsor in the shape of budget supermarket Lidl.

Basso, meanwhile, attracted great admiration and sympathy for his stoic response to his cancer diagnosis during this year’s Tour de France. He is also widely considered to be one of the most relaxed and friendly riders in the peloton.

But his career will always be stained by his relationship with Eufemiano Fuentes, the Spanish doctor at the centre of the Operation Puerto doping scandal – a link that cost him a two-year doping ban at the peak of his career.

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