Birthday Boy Marcel Kittel Savours Giro d’Italia Double

by Richard Moore

DUBLIN, May 11, 2014 (AFP) – Germany’s Marcel Kittel celebrated his 26th
birthday with his second successive Giro d’Italia stage win on the final day
of the race in Ireland on Sunday.

The Giant-Shimano rider had to come from a long way back to pip British
rider Ben Swift of Team Sky after the 187m third stage from Armagh to Dublin.

In a sprint finish for the line Italy’s Elia Viviani crossed third after
4hr 28min 43sec in the saddle.

“We tried to do the sprint preparation pretty early today (Sunday),” said
Kittel, who collapsed to the road just beyond the finish, exhausted after an
effort he described as “more like an attack than a sprint”.

Approaching the final kilometre there were two 90 degree bends and Kittel
disappeared from the front.

“I lost the wheel of (team-mate) Tom Veelers because riders were coming
from left and right and I was sandwiched,” he said.

“Afterwards the bunch was in one long line and I was back in 10th or 12th
but I thought, I can’t give up. I was on the wheel of (Nacer) Bouhanni who
thought the same.”

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Just when Swift seemed poised to raise his arms in victory, the huge figure
of Kittel appeared on his shoulder and passed him in the final metres.

Michael Matthews, the young Australian with the Orica-GreenEdge team,
survived a spill to keep hold of the pink jersey, of overall race leader,
which he will be wearing when the event resumes in Italy on Tuesday.

– ‘Fastest man in the world’ –

Matthews said he believes that Kittel is now the world’s best sprinter,
ahead of countryman Andre Greipel and Britain’s Mark Cavendish, both of whom
are missing the Giro.

“On a flat sprint he’s pretty incredible,” said Matthews.

“With the lead-out he has, and the amount of power he has, he’s pretty
unbeatable. I guess he’s shown he’s the fastest man in the world.”

It was another stage run under grey clouds and frequently heavy rain, which
saw the riders wrapped up and involved in several crashes.

Most were minor, but there was a big pile-up with 60km remaining, with the
Astana team coming off worst. Five of the Kazakhstan squad went down,
including their leader, Michele Scarponi, but they were all quickly back up.

More serious was another crash as the peloton negotiated a tight roundabout
with 35km to go and the five-man break holding on to a minute-and-a-half lead.

Cameron Meyer of Australia, a key member of Orica’s winning team in
Friday’s team time-trial, looked dazed but he too was able to finish the

This third stage concluded the Giro’s three-day stay in Ireland with
Riccardo Taranto, chief executive of race organisers RCS, paying tribute to
the crowds and their enthusiastic support of the Italian tour.

The Irish start was first mooted in 2009 and since then the race has
started in Amsterdam and Copenhagen and it is strongly rumoured that it will
start in Dubai in 2016.

Giro d’Italia results after the 187km third stage from Armagh to Dublin on Sunday:

1. Marcel Kittel (GER/GIA) 4hr 28min 43sec(average 41.754 km/h), 2. Ben
Swift (GBR/SKY) same time, 3. Elia Viviani (ITA/CAN) s.t., 4. Davide
Appollonio (ITA/ALM) s.t., 5. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 6. Edvald Boasson
Hagen (NOR/SKY) s.t., 7. Roberto Ferrari (ITA/LAM) s.t., 8. Edwin Avila
(COL/COL) s.t., 9. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/TRE) s.t., 10. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM)
s.t., 11. Francesco Chicchi (ITA/NRI) s.t., 12. Manuel Belletti (ITA/AND)
s.t., 13. Tony Hurel (FRA/EUC) s.t., 14. Nicola Ruffoni (ITA/BAR) s.t., 15.
Kenny Dehaes (BEL/LTB) s.t., 16. Michael Matthews (AUS/ORI) s.t., 17.
Alessandro Petacchi (ITA/OPQ) s.t., 8. Daniele Colli (ITA/NRI) s.t., 19.
Maxime Monfort (BEL/LTB) s.t., 20. Leonardo Duque (COL/COL) s.t.
Selected: 52. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) 0:11, 53. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 0:11,
55. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 0:11, 58. Sebastien Chavanel (FRA/FDJ) 0:11, 73.
Svein Tuft (CAN/ORI) 0:11.

1. Michael Matthews (AUS/ORI) 10hr 06min 37sec, 2. Alessandro Petacchi
(ITA/OPQ) at 0:08, 3. Daniel Oss (ITA/BMC) 0:10, 4. Luke Durbridge (AUS/ORI)
0:14, 5. Ivan Santaromita (ITA/ORI) 0:14, 6. Svein Tuft (CAN/ORI) 0:14, 7.
Pieter Weening (NED/ORI) 0:14, 8. Rigoberto Uran (COL/OPQ) 0:19, 9. Pieter
Serry (BEL/OPQ) 0:19, 10. Serge Pauwels (BEL/OPQ) 0:19, 11. Gianluca Brambilla
(ITA/OPQ) 0:19, 12. Julien Vermote (BEL/OPQ) 0:19, 13. Danilo Wyss (SUI/BMC)
0:21, 14. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 0:21, 15. Steve Morabito (SUI/BMC) 0:21, 16.
Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC) 0:21, 17. Yannick Eijssen (BEL/BMC) 0:23, 18. Brett
Lancaster (AUS/ORI) 0:25, 19. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 0:26, 20. Ben Swift
(GBR/SKY) 0:29
Selected: 22. Marcel Kittel (GER/GIA) 0:36, 32. Michele Scarponi (ITA/AST)
0:41, 55. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) 1:07, 106. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 1:34, 171.
Sebastien Chavanel (FRA/FDJ) 4:37

Photos: Corvos