With his Stage 2 win Marcel Kittel made sprinting look easy. In doing so, he left the rest of the peloton and fans of the Giro d'Italia scratching their aero helmets and working out what to do to win a sprint of their own.

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Extended highlights: Giro d'Italia Stage 2
Kittel first, daylight second in Stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia

Sunday 8 May 2016

Caleb Ewan finished a respectable seventh place for Orica-GreenEDGE after the aggressive sprint to the line.

The 2016 Australian criterium champion jumped from wheel to wheel in the final few hundred metres after solid work from Sam Bewley and Luka Mezgec but could not quite break out of the bunch behind stage winner Kittel.

Sport director Matt White wasn’t surprised with how stage two panned out.

“As predicted it was a very hectic day,” said White. “It’s often like this on the first road stage of a Grand Tour especially with the incredible crowds that turned out today.”

“Caleb and the team did very well to hold their positions going into the finale and obviously we would have liked to have a better result.”

Kittel began his sprint early with more than 200 metres to go to the line but held off the bunch to take the victory. Ewan and Orica-GreenEDGE had to settle for seventh place after the 21-year-old found his path blocked in the final 50 metres.

“Caleb is a young developing rider. He is exceptionally talented and he will gain a lot of valuable experience in this race, hopefully we will get another a chance to contest the finish tomorrow.” - Matt White

Stage 3 travels 189 kilometres back to Arnhem from Nijmegen. Categorised as another flat stage with one or to slight lumps to negotiate it should turn out to be another day for the sprinters.

FDJ rider Arnaud Démare was looking good for the win but had to settle for second place after Kittel’s powerful kick toward the finish line.

“I think the lead out was good, the team worked really well, but I lacked a little juice in the sprint and I waited too long,” said Démare according to Cyclingnews.

“He caught me by surprise. He came up that much faster from behind, and he had much more momentum. There was a fraction of a second when I was going slightly under full-gas, not accelerating fast enough, wanting to wait. Then he kicked, and I went, but it was already too late.

“It was a small error due to a lack of confidence maybe. It knocked the wind out of my sails but I can’t be too unhappy.”

As other teams weigh in, the mood in the peloton appears to be one of wonder, ambition and respect.

We’ve quoted this one in the stage report, but we’ll quote it again. General Classification leader, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) knows he may well lose the maglia rosa if Kittel, Dumoulin’s former team-mate, repeats his assault on the finish line in Stage 3.

“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

 Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida), who finished third, was also full of respect for the day’s winner.

“I have succeeded, thanks to my companions, to find a good location to set the sprint, unfortunately by 600 metres forward, between me and the first two riders of the stage, I lost two, three positions and I found myself a moment in delay in wrangle the sprint.

“If I had found the wheel of Kittel or Demare immediately, the battle for victory would have been played better.

“Nothing to remove to the beautiful sprint that did Marcel, really strong in this period of the Year.” – Sacha Modolo

Sky’s Elia Viviani, who finished in lucky 13th, acknowledged the work of his team-mates but was also realistic in knowing he has to stay on Kittel’s wheel to better his chances for a win.

"When Etixx took the lead they had a really fast lead-out train and I had to come from 15th position. I wasn't in a good position really, but tomorrow we will try again.

"At the moment Kittel is the strongest sprinter in the world and I know I need to stay on his wheel to try and take a win." Elia Viviani

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka got the Giro d'Italia off to an excellent start with Omar Fraile winning the first King of the Mountains Blue Jersey of this year’s Giro d'Italia for the African team.

Fraile, jumped into the early break of the day with Martin Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Giacomo Berlato (Nippo Vini Fantini) from kilometre zero. The three riders combined well to build up a maximum lead of 10 minutes over the peloton as the stage made its way from Arnhem to Nijmegen, covering a total of 190km.

It was a predominantly flat stage but there was a single King of the Mountains prime which came after 155 kilometres of racing. It would be an important sprint as the first rider over the 'Berg en Dal' climb would be awarded the first King of the Mountains jersey of this year’s Giro d'Italia.

Fraile and his two breakaway mates arrived at the foot of the climb with a lead of two minutes and 40 seconds over the peloton and so it was obvious the winner would come from one of the three.

The trio went side by side until about 500 metres to go where the sprint then opened up, Fraile had little trouble in crossing the line first with a superior sprint, to take the first mountain points of this year’s race.

“It was an objective of the team to get the jersey today. With it being the first day it was possible to be on the podium by going for the jersey and because it is our first Giro, the first time for an African Team here, we really wanted to be on the podium

“I am really happy to have this jersey now after a really nice day. I really enjoyed the stage, the crowds were great.” - Omar Fraile

Stickybottle have written their own analysis of Kittel’s winning sprint, pulling out key takeaways that regular riders can apply when sprinting for the line in races of their own.

Their key points:

- He didn’t surge and waste his kick as FDJ did – they put their max effort into getting onto the front of the bunch just inside the last kilometre and had nothing left for the actual sprint.

- Kittel had the confidence to drift back – just a little bit though – in the interests of avoiding the instinct to surge and hold his place.

- He ensured he was in a position with immediate access to open road when he wanted to open his sprint rather than find himself boxed in.

Read the full article.

If you’re stronger at max capacity over a longer distance, these insights from the Global Cycling Network might be more your thing. Make sure to save enough time after your warm up so the UCI can scan your bike for a hidden motor. No one likes a cheater.