Giro d’Italia: Etixx – Quick-Step’s Marcel Kittel has followed up on yesterday’s stage win by taking out stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia in yet another impressive sprint finish, which also comes as his thirteenth Grand Tour stage win.
Apart from consolidating his lead in the points classification, Kittel’s victory in Arnhem also secured him the pink jersey, making him the fifth ever German rider to lead the Giro d’Italia, and the first since Olaf Pollack in 2006.
Stage 3 began with an early breakaway, consisting of Maarten Tjallingii of NottoNL-Jumbo, and Giacomo Berlato of Nippo-Vini Fantini, who were in the break on stage 2 as well. They were joined by Johan Van Zyl of Dimension Data as well as Julen Amezqueta of Wilier-Southeast. The four riders were quickly able to build up a lead of six minutes within the first hour, and stretched out their lead to over eight minutes throughout the day. However, with a crosswind wreaking havoc in the peloton and causing an acceleration behind, the break saw their advantage reduced to around three minutes inside the last 60 kilometres.
With their lead continuously on the decline, Van Zyl attacked from the breakaway with just over 10 kilometres remaining. He eventually managed to create a gap of around one minute to the peloton, while his breakaway companions were swallowed up by the main field behind.
However it wasn’t long before the South African was also caught by the chasing peloton, with the sprinters teams, in particular Etixx – Quick-Step, having to work hard to close the gap in the final two kilometres.
However, the efforts made by his team paid dividends yet again, with Kittel finding himself virtually unchallenged in the final sprint to the line. Team Sky’s Elia Viviani made an attempt to latch onto the German’s back wheel, but was ultimately unable to respond when the German accelerated to the line.
Kittel now leads former Giant-Alpecin teammate Tom Dumoulin by nine seconds in the general classification, with Andrey Amador 15 seconds behind in third place.
Stage 4 will see the peloton head to Italy for a 200 kilometre stage from Catanzaro to Praia a Mare. It is the hilliest stage so far in this year’s Giro, and one that could make for an interesting breakaway, or likewise provide an opportunity for a fast man who is not necessarily a pure sprinter to have a chance at taking a stage victory.