Kittel Sprints to Victory in Stage 3 of Dubai Tour 2014
Germany's Kittel won the bunch sprint across the finish line in Hatta in impressive fashion when he beat Movistar's Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle and Peter Sagan of Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.
Having already won yesterday, the team executed another great job to continue the superb run of form over the past few days.
Today's Queen stage saw the riders tackle two climbs in the second half of the race, the latter being contested in the final ten kilometers with ramps of up to eleven percent.
Despite a fast tempo, Kittel fought decisively to stay with the front group, showing how he has developed over the winter period.
In a hectic finish to the stage, Kittel found himself on his own again but found the right gap and timed his move to perfection to take a well-deserved win on the line. Just metres behind, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg also sprinted to a strong fifth place showing real strength in depth in the team.
"What can I say? I felt great today and the guys did a really good job in helping me get to the climb in a good position," a proud Kittel said when he returned to the team bus.
"It was tough to stay with the front group but having finished a Grand Tour and having a strong winter's training in the legs had really helped me."
"The plan for the stage was to gamble with both Marcel and Reinardt, and see if Marcel could make it over the climb in the front group," Giant-Shimano's sports director Aike Visbeek explained.
"The teamwork from the guys was great, staying with Marcel (Kittel) and helping him before the climb. He then rode a great finish, staying calm and taking his second win. Another great day for the team."
Phinney was very grateful to his teammates for the support they offered him in today's stage.
"Today was a hard stage, the hardest stage of the race. My team did an amazing job of controlling it," he said.
"Klaas Lodewyck, Sebastian Lander, Rick Zabel they were in control the entire day."
"I did my best to follow the moves in the final kilometers, to follow the guys that I needed to follow and I felt really strong. I'm very happy to cross the line safely and still having the jersey at the end of the day."
In the overall Dubai Tour standings Phinney leads teammate Stephen Cummings by 15 seconds. Team Garmin-Sharp-POC's Lasse Norman Hansen (Denmark) is third, 17 seconds behind Phinney.