In Stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia, from Armagh to Dublin which passed through Meath (187 km) on Sunday, the formidable German sprinter Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) surged to the front in the final metres to take his second consecutive stage win, ahead of Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Elia Viviani (Cannondale). Kittel reinforced his lead in the points competition.
Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge), who finished 16th in the stage, retained the pink Maglia Rosa of the overall race leader.
Also for the second time in consecutive days, Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin-Pro Cycling Team) joined the early breakaway. He won both categorised climbs on the stage to increase his lead in the mountains competition.
Maglia Rosa “Balocco” (pink, General Classification leader): Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge)
Maglia Rossa “Algida” (red, mountains classification leader): Maarten Tjallingi (Belkin-Pro Cycling Team)
Maglia Azzurra “Banca Mediolanum” (blue, points classification leader): Marcel Kittel (Team Giant - Shimano)
Maglia Bianca “Orsero” (white, best young riders born on or after 1 January 1989): Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge)
After the stage, Kittel and Matthews spoke to the press:
Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge):
On Kittel: “He’s pretty incredible on the flat stages. He’s shown that he’s the fastest man in the world. With form that he has, and the lead out that he has, yeah, he’s pretty unbeatable. I but I think when it starts to get a bit hilly, it’ll take some of his top-end power off him and someone like me might be able to have a go.”
On wearing the Maglia Rosa today: “It was incredible. I was thankful that the weather was pretty much OK at the start, and I could wear my long sleeve jersey and show off my pink jersey and pink bike. Everyone was shouting for me. I still can’t believe it after wearing it all day and I’ll be so happy to wear it in Italy the day after tomorrow. Winning stage one as a team, as opposed to an individual stage, brought the whole team spirit up. Then for Svein [Tuft] to wear the jersey yesterday and for me to wear it today, we showed that we’re keen to ride at the front and show ourselves. Some of the guys don’t really realise it’s really happening, as if this doesn’t happen to teams like ours. But it is happening, and we’re really living the dream at the moment.”
On career development: “My career [as a professional cyclist] started really well after winning the World Championships in Melbourne in 2010. I won my first stage in my first Pro Tour race, then I won 2 or 3 races in Europe, then I lost my way a little bit, because I was forgetting to focus on the small things, sleeping and eating right and doing everything down to the wire. In pro cycling, everyone’s at about the same level, so those 1 or 2 per cent extra are the difference between winning and losing. I’m doing those things now, and I’m getting the results.”
Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano):
On today’s sprint: “We tried do our sprint preparation pretty early today, which wasn’t a mistake because 2 km before the finish the road narrowed and we wanted to be in front. But just before one of the turns I lost Tom Veelers’ wheel, and afterwards it was one big line and I must have been about 30 riders from the back. I thought, ‘I cannot give up now.’ Fortunately, I was on the wheel of Bouhanni, who was probably thinking the same thing. I was still not in a good position at 3-400m, but I sprinted as hard as I could for much longer than I would normally do. It was almost an attack, not a sprint, and it took a lot of energy. That’s why I was on the ground after the stage, recovering.”
On still improving: “It’s always important for me in my development as a rider to see improvements. Sometimes it’s in finding a better position than the year before, sometimes it’s about improving the team, or taking another mental approach to handling the pressure and distress. There are plenty of things I can still improve, not only legs-wise. When you win, it doesn’t make the races that come afterwards any easier, because expectations grow and you have to find a way to deal with it. Last year, we learned a lot. We saw a lot of things that we did wrong. I think we are now on the right road. Our victories in recent weeks confirm that.”