Tour de France 2014: Marcel Kittel wins third stage in London

Marcel Kittel (centre) wins the sprint down The Mall

German Marcel Kittel headed a late sprint to win the Tour de France's third stage from Cambridge to London.

The Giant-Shimano rider, who has won two of three stages in this year's race having triumphed on Saturday, prevailed as thousands watched on The Mall.

Slovakia's Peter Sagan finished second, ahead of Australia's Mark Renshaw in third, on the final leg in England.

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali retained the race lead, while Britain's defending champion Chris Froome remains fifth.

Kittel said his sixth Tour stage victory was among the biggest of his career.

"Emotionally, this win is close to the one I got on the Champs-Elysees in Paris last year," the 26-year-old said.

"Winning on The Mall, that's what I dreamed of. It's really fantastic to win here. On the finishing line, the crowd was fantastic. I love the atmosphere."

Froome and his Team Sky colleagues were similarly happy with their efforts over the first three days as they safely negotiated two tricky stages in Yorkshire and a slippery rain-soaked finish in London.

The 29-year-old is two seconds behind Nibali, who is one of his main rivals for victory.

"The big thing was to get through the stage, don't lose time or have any issues or incidents," said Froome.

"I'm feeling good. On Tuesday we can expect a similar day but on day five we hit the cobbles and that will be quite a shake-up, literally."

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Thousands of people lined the streets of Cambridge to see the cyclists

Thousands of people lined Monday's 155km (96-mile) route, mirroring scenes on the first two days in Yorkshire, as the riders went from Cambridge, into Essex and past a succession of London landmarks.

NetApp Endura rider Jan Barta and Bretagne-Seche's Jean-Marc Bideau raced clear of the peloton in the opening metres of the race and they were allowed to build up a lead of more than four minutes by a peloton that appeared keen to take it easy, following Sunday's strenuous day, which featured nine categorised climbs.

Monday's third stage was a much flatter affair, with no climbs, and the racing finally became animated as the riders approached the outskirts of London.

Barta, sensing Bideau was running out of energy, made a solo bid for the stage win with 8km remaining as they emerged from the Limehouse Tunnel in east London.

However, the Czech rider was unable to hold off the chasing pack, who caught him with 6km remaining.

The sprinters' teams came to the fore with Giant-Shimano expertly delivering Kittel to the front a couple of hundred metres from the finish line.

Cannondale rider Sagan and Renshaw, who is usually trying to lead out his Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team-mate Mark Cavendish, were unable to get round the German, who took the win.

Stage three result:

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Giant-Shimano) 3hrs 38mins 30secs

2. Peter Sagan (Svk/Cannondale) - same time

3. Mark Renshaw (Aus/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)

4. Bryan Coquard (Fra/Europcar)

5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha)

6. Danny van Poppel (Ned/Trek)

7. Heinrich Haussler (Aus/IAM Cycling)

8. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Movistar)

9. Romain Feillu (Fra/Bretagne-Seche)

10. Daniel Oss (Ita/BMC Racing)

Selected

28. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) - same time

38. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky)

64. Nicolas Roche (Ire/Tinkoff-Saxo)

163: Simon Yates (GB/Orica GreenEdge) +1min 52secs

Overall classification:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 13hrs 31mins 13secs

2. Peter Sagan (Svk/Cannondale) +2secs

3. Michael Albasini (Swi/Orica GreenEdge) - same time

4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing)

5. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky)

6. Bauke Mollema (Ned/Belkin)

7. Alberto Contador (Spa/Tinkoff - Saxo)

8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar)

9. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel/Lotto)

10. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R)

Selected:

22. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +16secs

25. Nicolas Roche (Ire/Tinkoff-Saxo) same time

69. Simon Yates (GB/Orica GreenEdge) +6mins 26secs

Germanys Marcel Kittel sprints to win the 155 km third stage of the 101st edition of the Tour de France
Germany's Marcel Kittel sprints to win the 155 km third stage of the 101st edition of the Tour de France
Crowds cheer as cyclists competing in the Tour de France pass through Parliament Square at the end of the races third stage
Crowds watch cyclists pass through Parliament Square in London
Spectators cheer as the pack passes during the third stage from Cambridge to London
Spectators cheer as the pack passes during the third stage from Cambridge to London

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