A Soggy Giro d’Italia Stage 2 Ends In Sprint

by Richard MOORE

BELFAST, United Kingdom, May 10, 2014 (AFP) – Australia’s Michael Matthews
is the Giro d’Italia’s new leader, having taken the pink jersey from his
Orica-GreenEdge team-mate Svein Tuft after German sprinter Marcel Kittel won
Saturday’s second stage.

“The plan was to win (Friday’s) team time-trial, to give Svein the jersey
for his birthday, and then for me to get a place in the sprint and take the
jersey,” said Matthews.

“To wear the pink jersey in my first Giro d’Italia is a dream come true.”

The 23-year-old was no match for Kittel in the sprint finish in a wet
Belfast, at the end of Saturday’s 219-kilometre stage, finishing eighth.

Asked what it would take to beat the German, Matthews replied: “Some hills.”

He continued: “I think Kittel is definitely the fastest guy in the bunch
here. He showed that today. I need to try to be around him in these first
stages and conserve energy for stages five and six, which are my goals for
this Giro. I’m focused on them.”

He is focused on staying in pink, too. “With the gap we have over the other
teams we should be able to keep the jersey for maybe a week,” said Matthews.

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Kittel confirmed his status as cycling’s in-form sprinter, even if Mark
Cavendish and Andre Greipel, his main rivals, are both missing.

It was his first Giro win after his four stage victories in last year’s
Tour de France and means that he has now won stages in all three Grand Tours

— France, Italy and Spain.

At the end of a stage that took the riders north from Belfast to the
Bushmills Distillery, returning by the coast and passing Giant’s Causeway, it
was a relatively straightforward win for Kittel, whose Giant-Shimano team
shepherded him over roads made treacherous by rain.

– ‘Rain and atmosphere’ –

On the run-in to Belfast the peloton swept up a four-man break that had
been clear for most of the stage, with Maarten Tjallingii of the Netherlands
the last survivor.

But when Kittel appeared at the front in the final 500 metres, having
safely negotiated a ninety-degree bend, it was as good as over for the others.

He sprinted in over a length clear of second-place Nacer Bouhanni of France.

“I know the riders who I have to take care of and keep an eye on,” said

“The two main guys are the British and the German ones, Cavendish and
Greipel. But Bouhanni and (Elia) Viviani are also strong and will definitely
challenge us here. It’s a problem if you become arrogant and think you will
beat them.”

Sunday’s third stage to Dublin should also suit Kittel on what will be his
26th birthday.

Asked for his verdict on the Giro’s visit to Ireland, he said: “The first
thing that comes to my mind is a lot of rain, and the second thing is the

“Even with all the rain there were so many people out there today, many in
shorts and T-shirts. I don’t know how they do it.”

Dan Martin, the Irishman who crashed and broke his collarbone during
Friday’s team time-trial, was due to have surgery on the injury in Dublin on
Saturday evening and said he expects to be back on his bike in two weeks.

Giro d’Italia results after
the second stage over 219km around Belfast on Saturday:

1. Marcel Kittel (GER/GIA) 5hr 13min 12sec (average: 41,954 km/h), 2. Nacer
Bouhanni (FRA/FDJ) samte time, 3. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/TRE) s.t., 4. Elia
Viviani (ITA/CAN) s.t., 5. Roberto Ferrari (ITA/LAM) s.t., 6. Manuel Belletti
(ITA/AND) s.t., 7. Ben Swift (GBR/SKY) s.t., 8. Michael Matthews (AUS/ORI)
s.t., 9. Davide Appollonio (ITA/ALM) s.t., 10. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM) s.t.,
11. Jetse Bol (NED/BKN) s.t., 12. Francesco Chicchi (ITA/NRI) s.t., 13. Tosh
Van der Sande (BEL/LTB) s.t., 14. Leonardo Duque (COL/COL) s.t., 15. Nicola
Ruffoni (ITA/BAR) s.t., 16. Tony Hurel (FRA/EUC) s.t., 17. Edwin Avila
(COL/COL) s.t., 18. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/BAR) s.t., 19. Edvald Boasson Hagen
(NOR/SKY) s.t., 20. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN) s.t.
Selected: 56. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) at 0:03sec, 89. Svein Tuft (CAN/ORI)
0:03, 100. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) 0:03,.

1. Michael Matthews (AUS/ORI) 5hr 37min 54sec, 2. Luke Durbridge (AUS/ORI)
à 0:03, 3. Ivan Santaromita (ITA/ORI) 0:03, 4. Svein Tuft (CAN/ORI) 0:03, 5.
Pieter Weening (NED/ORI) 0:03, 6. Cameron Meyer (AUS/ORI) 0:03, 7. Rigoberto
Uran (COL/OPQ) 0:08, 8. Gianluca Brambilla (ITA/OPQ) 0:08, 9. Pieter Serry
(BEL/OPQ) 0:08, 10. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA/OPQ) 0:08, 11. Serge Pauwels
(BEL/OPQ) 0:08, 12. Julien Vermote (BEL/OPQ) 0:08, 13. Danilo Wyss (SUI/BMC)
0:10, 14. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 0:10, 15. Daniel Oss (ITA/BMC) 0:10, 16. Steve
Morabito (SUI/BMC) 0:10, 17. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC) 0:10, 18. Yannick
Eijssen (BEL/BMC) 0:12, 19. Brett Lancaster (AUS/ORI) 0:25, 20. Wout Poels
(NED/OPQ) 0:25.
Selected: 52. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) 0:56

Photo: Corvos