Kittel wins 2nd stage as Bevin takes overall lead

The Associated Press

FOLLONICA, Italy (AP) -- Marcel Kittel claimed his first win of 2018 by sprinting to victory in a crash-marred Tirreno-Adriatico second stage on Thursday while Patrick Bevin took the overall lead.

German rider Kittel was helped by his Katusha-Alpecin team before he edged out Peter Sagan and Giacomo Nizzolo in a bunch sprint following a mostly flat, 167-kilometer (103.8-mile) journey from Camaiore to Follonica.

''I've been waiting a long time for this victory,'' Kittel said. ''The team did a very good job today. I have to say a big, big thank you to everyone for helping me.''

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New Zealand rider Bevin finished fifth to replace BMC colleague Damiano Caruso as race leader. The duo have the same time, along with Greg Van Avermaet and Rohan Dennis, after the team's victory in Wednesday's opening time trial.

''It's a really weird feeling to take a jersey off a teammate, especially one that's here to lead the race,'' Bevin said. ''I don't mind babysitting it for a day.''

The crash in the peloton, which held up all bar 30 or so riders, came with seven kilometers remaining. All of the race favorites emerged unscathed to finish in the front group.

Mark Cavendish did not start after a crash the previous day led to the British rider sustaining facial injuries and a broken rib.

Cavendish had only just returned after being concussed following a similar incident on the opening stage of last month's Abu Dhabi Tour.

''It's frustrating to have crashed...but I'm just pleased there's no major damage done,'' he said.

Friday's stage is a hilly, 239-kilometer route from Follonica to Trevi.

The race ends on Tuesday with an individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto.

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