'When I saw that finish line, I gave it everything'
Marcel Kittel celebrated his 26th birthday in style with a stunning sprint victory on stage three of the Giro d'Italia in Dublin.
Australian Michael Matthews managed to hold onto the pink jersey following the 187km third stage that started from Armagh.
Team Giant-Shimano rider Kittel, who is 22nd overall, did not seem to be well-placed for the final sprint but overhauled Ben Swift and Elia Viviani in the last few metres to win.
"I thought I lost the race already because I was really in a not good position," said Kittel (pictured right).
Isolated from his team-mates and lead-out man Tom Veelers in a frantic finale of the 187km route from Armagh, Kittel latched on to the wheel of Swift before powering home. "I came here with the goal to win the first (road) stage and after that the pressure is off slightly but today was not easy and it was really close at the finish," Kittel explained.
"When I could see the finish line after the final corner I gave it everything.
"It is extra special to win on your birthday and I must thank my team-mates for the work they did for me."
There was a split behind the first 32 riders, creating an 11-second gap, with Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) finishing among the general classification contenders after working his way back following what could have been a disastrous puncture with 6km to go.
The race transfers to southern Italy with tomorrow's 112km route from Giovinazzo to Bari. In the overall standings, Matthews, of the Orica-GreenEdge team, is eight seconds clear.