Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) got the monkey of a first 2016 Giro win off his back winning a sprint finish with daylight to second place. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) was nowhere to be seen. 

As an extreme talent at just 21 years old and with hot Australian summer form, much was expected of Orica-GreenEDGE's Caleb Ewan on today's sprint finish. While team-mate Sam Bewley kept him out of the wind in the final kilometres, the train didn't seem to be there for Ewan who perhaps was also put off by some old-fashioned sprinters' argy bargy with Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani CSF). 

Yet no one seemed to fight Kittel for the win, including runner up Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and third placed Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida), both watching their chances dissolve through a clear gap. 

Rider reactions: how does Kittel do it?

Elia Viviani (Sky) and Greipel, who were both tipped as potential winners of the first sprint stage of the event, were nowhere to be seen among the first wave of contenders at the finish line, rolling through in 13th and 15th respectively. 

Earlier, Maaerten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo), Giacomo Berlato (Nippo-Vini-Fantini) and Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) formed a breakaway that stayed clear until after the first official climb of the Giro, the trio's goal. Fraile beat his companions to the points and the first maglia azzura jersey. They built a gap of 11 minutes, which fell rapidly until Tjallingii and Fraile were absorbed with 20 kilometres to go. Berlato made a solo attack, which proved fruitless. 

“I was feeling really good today and started my sprint in a perfect moment," said Kittel. "With the finish being in a short downhill, I knew it was perfect for me and kicked-off my sprint with confidence.

"Winning the stage with a small gap was even better, especially as it came at the end of an incredible day. The fans were outstanding and supported us all the time, the Dutch really know how to celebrate and it was like a big party out there. I must say, the finish in Nijmegen was one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen,” he said.

The 27-year-old sprinter credited his team-mates for boxing their way to the front and leaving him in an excellent position as the peloton hit the climax of the day.

“What makes me very happy is that the team showed huge confidence and huge strength to make this win possible for me, so I want to thank the guys for fighting in the finale and taking me to the front of the pack.

"The win was very special also because I had my girlfriend, who lives not far from here, waiting for me at the finish. Now I’m looking forward to the next stage with calm and an even higher degree of confidence.”

Tonight's stage closely resembles this one, a flat 190 kilometre from Nijmegen to Arnhem finishing with two laps of a 14 kilometre circuit. Wind will be a factor, as will the appetites of the sprinters who are hungry for another chance at a stage win while they're fresh.

Sunday 8 May 2016

watch the extended highlights here
Extended highlights: Giro d'Italia Stage 2

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) finished Stage 2 with the bunch in 36th position and retained the overall lead. Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) still sits in second, after finishing 0.022 seconds behind Dumoulin in the prologue.

Kittel moves into third overall and is now one short second behind the leader after a ten second time bonus for his victory in Stage 2.

“Today was really incredible and I enjoyed every second of it," said Dumoulin, who enjoyed his day in the leader's jersey in front of a home crowd in the Netherlands.

“It was very nice to hear this wall of noise all day and people shouting my name. It is all very close now, but the chances are pretty high that I will lose it tomorrow if Kittel sprints again like he did. We just have to make sure that there is another breakaway on the road to take the bonus seconds away, and then we will see.

"But if someone takes the leader's jersey from me, then it should be Marcel. We always liked Marcel as a person and also a captain on the team." - Tom Dumoulin

Kittel raced with Giant-Alpecin before transferring to Etixx-QuickStep for 2016.