Giro d’Italia 2014: birthday boy Marcel Kittel not getting carried away ahead of stage three

German fast man starts stage three as favourite

He may be one of the fastest men on two wheels at the moment, but Giant-Shimano sprinter Marcel Kittel is refusing to get carried away.

The German, who won stage two of the Giro d’Italia in a sprint finish in Belfast, starts the third stage expected to be deliver a similar result in Dublin.

Given it his birthday on the same day too, it could be a double cause for celebration – as it was for Orica-GreenEDGE birthday boy Svein Tuft on stage one of the Giro d’Italia too.

Birthday boy Marcel Kittel could make it a double celebration with victory on stage three

But Kittel, who is yet to decide whether he will complete the Giro d’Italia, with the Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire another big moment, insists he is focused solely on the task in hand.

“I think it’s all in our hands to add another win on my birthday so it would be great, but there is no point adding any extra pressure,” he said.

“We will take the same approach to this stage and see how it goes and then we will see where we are.

“I know the riders who I need to keep an eye on in the sprint. We have seen here Nacer Bouhanni and Elia Viviani too.

“These are guys who will definitely challenge us over the next few days and that’s why we will concentrate as a team. I think it is a big problem when you start to become arrogant or think that your team is unbeatable because it is hard work.”

Such hard work has now earned Kittel stage wins at all three Grand Tours and a guaranteed place among the sprinting greats.

It raises the question as to whether he can now cement his place as one of cycling’s great fast men by adding points classifications to his palmares.

For now, however, the big German insists his sole target remains racking up stage wins and paid tribute to the team-mates who have helped him achieve such a notable landmark.

Kittel has now won a stage at all three Grand Tours but is refusing to get complacent ahead of stage three

“Challenging for the points jersey is, for now, something for the future,” he said.

“I come here purely focused on the stage wins. I’m really proud to have won a stage at all of the Grand Tours. It’s a big relief because I think it’s a nice goal to aim for in your career as a cyclist.

“What makes me especially proud also is there are riders in the team who have won every Grand Tour stage with me and I think that’s a great experience for the team.”

The peloton now races across the Irish border from Armagh to Dublin for one final stage on the Emerald Isle before heading to mainland Italy.

Kittel was among the riders given a warm welcome by the Northern Irish crowds at the team presentation and as he sprinted to victory on stage two.

The fans were out en masse again for the stage, despite a near constant rain throughout the stage, and Kittel as keen to pay tribute to them.

He said: “The first thing that comes to my mind reflecting on Northern Ireland is there was a lot of rain.

“But the second thing is the nice atmosphere. Even with all the rain there were so many people outside, some in shorts and t-shirt – I don’t know how they do it.

“They were really cheering very hard for us and it was cool to see and really comforting on the wet roads here.”

Did you have Marcel Kittel in your Fantasy Giro team for stage two? Don’t forget you can make up to eight changes in week one – just click here.

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