Kittel’s Giant-Shimano team did a good job of keeping him towards the front of the bunch in the final few kilometres, before setting him up for a clear run to the line.
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It was a typically frenetic opening sprint finish of a grand tour, with multiple teams all vying for places in the belief that a stage win was possible. No one team controlled proceedings, although Trek came the closest, managing to place their sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo third, just behind Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) in second. Team Sky also had a brief spell at the front, but Ben Swift could only manage seventh.
Rainy conditions and a largely uneventful day did not deter the enthusiastic home crowd, who once again flocked to the roadsides, with many dressed in pink. Thankfully, neither did the rain have a negative impact on the race, with no serious crashes befalling the peloton.
The break of the day featured Sander Armee (Lotto-Belisol), Jeffry Romero (Colombia), Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo) and Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin), from which Tjallingi takes the mountains jersey after winning both hotly contested sprints on the stage’s two peaks.
Tjallingi was clearly the strongest in the break, and decided to go alone in the final 10 kilometres. Despite his effort, he was inevitably caught with 3.5 kilometres to go.
Tomorrow sees the peloton head into southern Ireland, in what is expected to be another bunch sprint. If today is anything to go by, it will be difficult for anyone to get the better of Kittel.
Sunday’s stage three travels south to the Republic of Ireland, starting in Armagh and finishing in Dublin after 187km. The flat stage is again expected to culminate in a bunch sprint. Full stage three preview >>
Giro d’Italia 2014, stage two: Belfast to Belfast, 219km
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 5-13-12
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek Factory Racing
4. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
5. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
7. Ben Swift (GBr) Sky
8. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
9. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Ag2r
10. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp all at same time
Overall classification after stage two
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
2. Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica-GreenEdge at 3 secs
3. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge
6. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge all st
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 5 secs
8. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
9. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep all st
Orica-GreenEdge's Svein Tuft takes race lead in Belfast as Dan Martin crashes out
Team time trial specialists Orica-GreenEdge celebrate another victory in the discipline, with Svein Tuft wearing the maglia rosa in Belfast