Giro d'Italia 2014: Marcel Kittel wins stage two in Belfast

Germany's Marcel Kittel won a sprint finish in Belfast to take the second stage of the Giro d'Italia.

The Giant-Shimano rider negotiated a tricky bend 350m from the finish and rode away from Nacer Bouhanni and Giacomo Nizzolo on the final straight.

Team Sky's Ben Swift, Britain's sole rider in the race, finished seventh.

Rain fails to dampen Northern Ireland's Giro d'Italia spirits

Australia's Michael Matthews takes the race leader's pink jersey from his Orica GreenEdge team-mate Svein Tuft after coming home eighth.

It was a frenetic finish at the end of a 219km stage that started and finished in the Northern Irish capital.

A quartet of riders broke clear just 3km into the stage as the route took the race north towards the Giant's Causeway before heading back to Belfast on a coastal road.

Their lead reached six minutes before the Orica GreenEdge team, looking to defend the pink jersey, upped the pace at the front of the peloton.

With the pack closing in, one of the escapees, Maarten Tjallingii, made a solo bid for victory with about 10km to go but he was caught with 3km remaining.

What to expect on Sunday's stage three

"The last 100km is going to be pretty quick and that's down the coast road as we cross into the Republic of Ireland, so the wind will again come into play."

The Cannondale team took up the pace in an attempt to deliver their Italian sprinter Elia Viviani to the line, but Kittel was best placed as the riders came off the final bend and outsprinted his rivals for a comfortable victory.

"The final run-in was pretty hectic because lots of teams were trying to be at the front," Kittel, 25, told BBC Sport.

"My team tried to do a good lead-out and we got to the final corner in the front. I'm feeling good and motivated and super happy."

The victory means Kittel is the 84th rider to win a stage on all three Grand Tours - Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.

After winning in five hours 13 minutes 12 seconds, he said: "It is big. I wanted to achieve that record and now I can be relaxed for the rest of the race."

Giro d'Italia riders in Northern Ireland

The riders endured wet and windy conditions as they rode along coastal roads in Northern Ireland

Sunday's third stage takes the riders 187km from Armagh in Northern Ireland to Republic of Ireland capital Dublin.

The riders will then have a rest day while the race transfers to Italy for the remaining 18 stages of the three-week race.

Stage two result:

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Giant) 5:13:12"

2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fr/FDJ.fr) same time

3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita/Trek)

4. Elia Viviani (Ita/Cannondale)

5. Roberto Ferrari (Ita/Lampre)

6. Manuel Belletti (Ita/Androni Giocattoli)

7. Ben Swift (GB/Team Sky)

8. Michael Matthews (Aus/Orica)

9. Davide Appollonio (Ita/AG2R)

10. Tyler Farrar (US/Garmin)

General classification:

1. Michael Matthews (Aus/Orica) 5:37:54"

2. Luke Durbridge (Aus/Orica) +3"

3. Ivan Santaromita (Ita/Orica)

4. Svein Tuft (Can/Orica)

5. Pieter Weening (Ned/Orica)

6. Cameron Meyer (Aus/Orica)

7. Rigoberto Uran (Col/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) +8"

8. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)

9. Pieter Serry (Bel/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)

10. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)