Giro d'Italia: Marcel Kittel wins stage three with late burst as Michael Matthews retains lead
By Matt Westby in Dublin
Last Updated: 11/05/14 8:23pm
Marcel Kittel produced a magnificent late burst to edge out Britain’s Ben Swift and claim his second successive victory of the Giro d’Italia on stage three in Dublin.
Kittel became distanced on the final two corners and his chances looked to have evaporated when Team Sky rider Swift subsequently hit the front of the field with a strong surge 300m out.
Kittel, however, powered back into contention with a formidable kick and overtook Swift with less than ten metres remaining to win by a wheel’s length in a thrilling finale.
Behind them, a late split created an 11-second gap in the peloton, but race leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) was able to position himself in the front group to ensure he retained the pink jersey and stretched his overall lead to eight seconds.
Kittel (Giant-Shimano), who was left crumpled on the ground by his efforts, said afterwards: "I sprinted as hard as I can. It was much longer than I would normally do because I was not in a really good position at 300m or 400m. I didn't want to give up and I thought I have to try. I think I almost attacked instead of sprinted. It took a lot of energy.
"At 1.3km I lost the wheel of Tom Veelers because I got sandwiched and I had to let go. Afterwards it was one big line and I was really far back. I was in the wheel of [Nacer] Bouhanni, who tried to close gaps and come back to the front, and when we came to the finish I tried everything. It was close."
The Giro's third stage and final day in Ireland took the riders 187km from Armagh and over the border into Dublin on a flat stage suited to a bunch finish. After the day's breakaway had been caught with just over 7km remaining, the sprint trains in the peloton jostled for position ahead of a twisting finale in the city centre.
Giant-Shimano had been prominent, but they fell away when the riders hit back-to-back 90-degree left-hand turns and it seemed certain that Swift would register his first Grand Tour stage win. Kittel, however, would not be beaten and celebrated his 26th birthday with the most impressive of sprint victories.
Matthews, who crashed earlier in the day, followed in 16th, but many of the other riders towards the top of the general classification were caught out by the split and lost time.
Matthews said afterwards: "It was incredible to wear the pink jersey today. The crowds made it even better - they were truly amazing today. I still can't really believe I've got the pink jersey, even after wearing it all day. I'm so pleased I get to wear it in Italy on Tuesday."
The Giro takes a rest day on Monday as the race relocates to Italy, but will resume with a sprint stage in Bari on Tuesday.
Stage three result
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano, 4:28:43
2 Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky, same time
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale, st
4 Davide Appollonio (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
5 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, st
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky, st
7 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
8 Edwin Avila (Col) Colombia, st
9 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Tyrek Factory Racing, st
10 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, 10:06:37
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, +8
3 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC, +10
4 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, +14
5 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica-GreenEdge, same time
6 Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge, st
7 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge, st
8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, +19
9 Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, st
10 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, st