Kittel Sprints to Stage Win in Giro
Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) has won the first road stage of the 2014 Giro d’Italia. Kittel dusted the field to win Stage 2, a flat, 218-km ride in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland in 5:13:12. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) finished second, and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) took third. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) has taken the maglia rosa from teammate Svein Tuft.
As was the case yesterday, rain greeted the riders. After a series of abortive sallies, Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin) got clear, and Jeffry Johan Romero Corredor (Colombia), Sander Armee (Lotto-Belisol), and Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo) joined him. The quartet led by six and a half minutes at 44 km. Orica-GreenEdge went to the front and pegged the lead at between five and six minutes for much of the rest of the stage.
With 25 km left, the break led the bunch by 1:15. Fifteen km later, the peloton was less than a minute behind the leading foursome. Cannondale moved Basso to the front to keep him safe, and BMC Racing Team did the same with Cadel Evans. Two km later, Tjallingii attacked and dropped his companions. He never led the peloton by more than 0:30. With three km remaining, the Dutchman was reeled in.
Trek, Sky, Orica-GreenEdge, Giant-Shimano, and FDJ.fr battled for command at the front. With 300 m to go, Bouhanni burst into the lead. Kittel powered past the Frenchman to win by three bike lengths.
According to Kittel, the technical finish made for a difficult sprint. ““I am so happy with how it worked out today,” the Giant-Shimano man said, “and to get the Giro off to a great start for not only me but the whole team.
“The finish went quite well considering it was pretty hard to get a leadout going on the technical run-in. The guys set me up in position, and even though I was a bit isolated I managed to come round the others in the last few hundred metres.
“This was our target, getting the Giro off to the best start possible on the flat sprint stages here in Ireland and to repay the team here for their confidence and hard work is a great feeling.
In the overall, Matthews leads teammates Luke Durbridge and Ivan Santamorita by 0:03. Stage 2 will be another sprint stage. The 187-km run from Armagh to Dublin will be a bit lumpy in the beginning, but the last 100 km will be flat. The finish will be technical. Who will take the win? Kittel again? Bouhanni? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!