Kittel Takes Second Straight Stage of Giro
Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) has taken his second consecutive stage of the Giro d’Italia. Kittel took a bunch sprint at the end of a rain-soaked, flat, 187-km stage 3 from Armagh to Dublin in 4:28:43. Ben Swift (Sky) finished second, and Elia Viviani (Cannondale) finished third. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) remains the maglia rosa.
A number of riders have commented on the welcome that the Irish gave them, but many will probably be glad to leave the Emerald Isle. Rain has fallen for most of the three stages that were ridden in Ireland, and today was no exception. At six km, Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin) slipped off of the front, and Yonder Godoy (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela), Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Colombia), Giorgio Cecchinel (Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo), and Gert Dockx (Lotto-Belisol) joined him. The quintet battled the rain and a headwind to forge a six-minute lead. Orica-GreenEdge then began to chase.
With 96 km left, the bunch had cut the break’s advantage to 2:40. To avoid making the catch too soon, the peloton backed off, and the break’s lead grew to four minutes. Crashes made themselves felt. Matthews crashed, and with 60 km left, a pileup took down five members of Astana, including team captain Michele Scarponi. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) hit the deck with 35 km to go. Three km later, Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) went down. With 25 km remaining, the break led the bunch by one minute.
Rubiano gave up and dropped back to the peloton. Cecchinel put in an attack, but the bunch caught him with seven km left. Astana, BMC, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step took over at the front to protect their GC men, but Cannondale and FDJ.fr led the field into the last km. At one point, Kittel was out of position, and Swift was in the lead with 100 m left. The German burst to the front to pip the Briton at the finish line. Kittel, who celebrated his 26th birthday today, pointed out that the finish, which was technical, was difficult. “The road got really narrow with two kilometres to go and we knew that we had to be in front here and we were but I got sandwiched and it was a choice of letting go of Tom’s wheel or probably crashing. This put me out of position slightly and a bit far back but I was never going to give up on the chance to win a stage.
“When I could see the finish line after the final corner I gave it everything and it was really close but I just concentrated on the line and managed to come past everyone.
“It is extra special to win on your birthday and I must thank my teammates for the work they did for me again today. We can have a day of down time now before targeting the next flat stage in Italy.”
In the overall, Matthews leads Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by 0:08 and Daniel Oss (BMC) by 0:10. Tomorrow, the Giro will leave Ireland and head for Italy. On Tuesday, the race will resume with a flat, 112-km run from Giovinazzo to Bari. The stage appears tailor made for Kittel’s third stage win. Can anyone beat him? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!