The win, and its accompanying bonus seconds, also moved Kittel into the overall lead. The stage victory makes it four from four for Kittel in Giro d’Italia road stages after two sprint wins in 2014.
Interestingly, none of those wins happened on Italian soil. But in this form, the Etixx sprinter will surely continue in the race when it returns home after Monday’s transfer day.
The early breakaway went and was made up of four riders: Johann Van Zyl (Dimension Data), Giacomo Berlato (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Julen Amazqueta (Southeast-Venezuela).
At its maximum, the break’s advantage was over eight minutes, but was soon brought down to a more manageable gap.
Whilst still out the front Tjallingii took the points on the day’s only categorised climb to take control of the king of the mountains jersey. He will have been especially pleased as this meant he could step onto the podium in his home town.
Back in the peloton, Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) became the first rider to abandon the race after a crash left his with a nasty cut just below the eye that required medical attention.
Once the peloton got within a minute of the break, Van Zyl attacked his companions in the hope of staying clear to the end of the stage. A large crash at the back of the peloton slowed the chase slightly, but the sprinters’ teams pushed on from the front of the main pack.
With 7km to go, the lone leader had an advantage around 40 seconds, all the while the riders in the peloton were looking at each other.
Etixx-Quick Step recognised the threat and took up the chase with 4.2km to go, as Bob Jungels put in a huge turn to rapidly reduce Van Zyl’s chances of a stage win.
It was all back together before the red kite and the race proceeded to the bunch sprint.
Giro d’Italia stage three, Nijmegen – Arnhem (190km)
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx-Quick Step, 4-23-45
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
4. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
5. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha
6. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension-Data
7. Moreno Hofland (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
8. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
9. Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing
10. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Lampre-Media, all same time
Who are the favourites for the overall at the Giro d’Italia?
Overall standings after stage three
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx-Quick Step, 9-13-10
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin, at 9s
3. Andrey Amador (Crc) Movistar, at 15s
4. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Giant-Alpecin, at 17s
5. Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale, at 21s
6. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx-Quick Step, at 22s
7. Matthias Brändle (Aut) IAM Cycling, at 23s
8. Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling, at 25s
9. Chad Haga (USA) Giant-Alpecin, st
10. Georg Preidler (Aus) Giant-Alepcin, at 26s