Kittel bags another Giro stageComment on this story
Marcel Kittel won stage three of the Giro d'Italia to claim his second consecutive victory but, after a relatively straightforward sprint in Belfast on Saturday, he did it the hard way in Dublin on Sunday.
Kittel, on his 26th birthday, took the stage honours ahead of Britain's Ben Swift and Italy's Elia Viviani.
The German's Giant-Shimano team seemed to mistime their lead-out and were swamped as the peloton raced around a double left-hand bend with a kilometre to go.
Kittel found himself a long way back and apparently with too much to do on the slightly uphill finishing straight.
Viviani's Cannondale team had got their lead-out right but it was Team Sky's Swift who emerged at the front and seemed set for the win until the huge figure of Kittel surged back.
He lunged past Swift to cross the line first, then collapsed to the road with exhaustion.
Michael Matthews, the young Australian with the Orica-GreenEdge team, survived a spill to keep hold of the leader's pink jersey.
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's riders went down, including their leader, Michele Scarponi, but they were not seriously hurt.
More serious was another crash as the peloton negotiated a tight roundabout with 35km to go.
Cameron Meyer of Australia, a key member of Orica's winning team in Friday's team time-trial, was last up. He looked dazed but was able to get back on his bike and finish the stage.
This third stage on Irish roads concluded the Giro d'Italia's stay in Ireland with Riccardo Taranto, chief executive of race organisers RCS, paying tribute to the crowds and their enthusiastic support.
The Irish start was first mooted in 2009 and since then the Giro has started in Amsterdam and Copenhagen and it is strongly rumoured that it will start in Dubai in 2016, with RCS having organised a stage race there earlier this year. – AFP