Kittel wins 2nd successive Giro stage to take overall lead
ARNHEM, Netherlands (AP) Another superb performance from Marcel Kittel saw the German cyclist claim a second successive sprint victory at the Giro d'Italia and replace Tom Dumoulin as the overall leader after the third stage on Sunday.
Set up perfectly by his Etixx-QuickStep teammates, Kittel opened his sprint 200 meters out and crossed the line several bike lengths ahead of Elia Viviani of Italy.
Another Italian cyclist, Giacomo Nizzolo, was third on the 190-kilometer (118-mile) route from Nijmegen to Arnhem.
It was Kittel's fourth stage win in the Giro. By coincidence, none of those victories have come in Italy, with his two previous successes in Belfast and Dublin in 2014.
''To be honest I would also love winning them in Italy,'' Kittel said. ''I'm super, super happy to win ... I can now say I wore the leader's jersey in the Tour (de France) and also in the Giro. Something unique and I'm very, very proud.
''Today was a super tough day. My boys did an amazing job, they kept me out of the wind and at the end Matteo Trentin and Fabio Sabatini brought us in position and from there I had the best possibility to start my sprint.''
The bonus seconds Kittel earned for the stage win moved him nine seconds ahead of Dumoulin. It is 10 years since a German wore the leader's pink jersey.
Andrey Amador moved into third, 15 seconds behind Kittel.
It appeared as if Kittel's hopes of ending the day in pink would be thwarted by a fantastic solo effort from Johann Van Zyl, who was one of a quartet of riders who broke away at the start of the stage and at one point had an advantage of more than eight minutes.
Van Zyl attacked from the break shortly after entering the second of two 14-kilometer circuits to the finish line, but a concerted effort from Etixx reeled in the South African cyclist, who was caught with less than two klilometers to go.
The stage was impacted by strong crosswinds, which split the peloton, and a number of crashes.
Jean-Christophe Peraud, a hopeful for the general classification, was caught in the first one of those when his AG2r-La Mondiale teammate slipped in front of him as the peloton negotiated a roundabout.
The 38-year-old Frenchman, who was competing in his first Giro, hit the road face first. Although he got up swiftly, he suffered cuts to his face and was taken away by ambulance, becoming the first rider to abandon the race.
Monday is a rest day as the Giro returns to Italy for Tuesday's fourth leg - a 200-kilometer (124-mile) medium-mountain stage from Catanzaro to Praia a Mare in the south of the country.