Marcel Kittel of Germany today sprinted to victory in the second stage of the Giro d'Italia in Belfast as Australian Michael Matthews took the race leader's pink jersey from his Orica-GreenEdge teammate Svein Tuft of Canada after coming home eighth.
Giant-Shimano rider Kittel, who clocked more than five hours to claim his first Giro stage win, timed his move perfectly as he rode away from France's Nacer Bouhanni and Italian Giacomo Nizzolo with 200 metres remaining of the 218-kilometre leg.
"Honestly, it was not so easy today to stay in front with the team, I lost them a few times," Kittel admitted.
"It was a very hard day with all the rain, and the boys did an amazing job.
"The weather was very Irish I guess, and you're cold if you ride five hours in the rain.
"I was really overwhelmed by all the people on the roads, it was really a big party despite the weather.
"I'm super happy and proud about this win, it's really something to have a win in each of the three Grand Tours."
Matthews, meanwhile, finished three seconds ahead of his teammates but admitted he did not expect to be wearing the pink jersey.
"We had a great team time trial yesterday and we decided to give it to Svein for his birthday," he added.
"To take it today is truly something amazing.
"I'll try to keep it as long as I can, hopefully until at least stage six or seven.
"There's a few guys who are close to me.
"It's truly a massive thing for the team and for me as well."
Tomorrow's third stage is a 187km cross-border leg from Armagh to Dublin.
There is then a rest day on Monday (May 12) before the race resumes in southern Italy with a stage ending in the city of Bari.
The Giro ends in Trieste on June 1.
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