After the German’s Giant-Shimano team had put in the work to bring the peloton into The Mall, Kittel opened up his sprint in the final 500 metres to take the victory in front of Buckingham Palace.
Such was Kittel’s pace that points classification leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale) looked like he was struggling to stay on his wheel, let alone pass him. Sagan finished second, with Mark Cavendish stand-in Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in third.
Soon after the stage start in Cambridge, Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) and Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) broke free from the peloton. The duo opened up a gap of around three minutes, but their time advantage was kept firmly in check by the peloton throughout the day.
After Barta put in one last-ditch attack to try and distance Bideau in the final 10km, the pair were both caught by the bunch with 6km to go.
A spell of rain towards the end of the stage had made some of the roads around London slippery, and as the peloton wound its way past the House of Parliament towards the Mall there was a crash which again held up a fair proportion of riders. It appeared that Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) was held up momentary by the incident, and he finished 23rd.
Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) stayed out of trouble to retain his overall lead after Sinday’s stage win in Sheffield. He leads Sagan by two seconds, with Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) moving up from fourth to third, also at two seconds.
Defending Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky) maintains his fifth place overall.
Despite Kittel’s two stage wins, Sagan still leads the points classification with 117 points to Kittel’s 90. Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) kept the King of the Mountains lead on a day when there were no classified climbs.
A swift pack-up after today’s stage will see the race leave behind a highly successful opening three days in Britain and travel back to its motherland. A relatively flat stage four from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille Métropole over 163.5km will greet them.
Tour de France 2014, stage three: Cambridge to London, 155km
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 3-38-30
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
3. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
5. Alexander Kristoff (Den) Katusha
6. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
7. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
8. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
9. Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
10. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing at same time
28. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at same time
29. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at same time
34. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at same time
163. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge at 1-52
Overall classification after stage three
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 13-31-13
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 2 secs
3. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge at 2 secs
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 2 secs
5. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 2 secs
6. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 2 secs
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 2 secs
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 2 secs
9. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 2 secs
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r at 2 secs
22. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 16 secs
69. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge at 6-26
Late attack nets Vincenzo Nibali the stage win ahead of his general classification rivals