Viviani beats Kittel in De Panne

Elia Viviani produced a textbook sprint to win stage two of the Three Days of De Panne ahead of Marcel Kittel and race leader Alexander Kristoff.

The Italian was perfectly positioned by Ian Stannard, Christian Knees, Danny van Poppel and Andy Fenn in the closing stages of the 211.1km trek from Zottegem to Koksijde, and latched on to Kittel’s wheel with two kilometres to go.

Kristoff (Katusha) opened up his sprint early in the finale, but Viviani bided his time brilliantly and rounded Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step) in the last 100 metres to seal a sensational result.

The victory was Viviani’s second of the season and puts him another step closer to achieving his goal of 10 successes in 2016.

Behind the podium Viviani told reporters: “My team did a great job for me, and with the likes of Kittel and [Andre] Greipel here, I knew I just had to follow the right train.

“I kept it cool and left myself about 100 metres to try and pass Kittel at the end. This is a great moment for me. I haven’t had too many big results lately but winning this stage was a big goal I’d set myself so I am very, very happy.”

A sprint finish was always predicted on day two, and although the break had held a gap of around seven minutes with 80km to go, a determined chase saw them swept up in the last 15km.

Team Sky led the peloton as the battle of the lead-outs ensued, with Fenn, Knees and Van Poppel each putting in big turns before Viviani settled at the back of Etixx – Quick-Step’s train as the peloton swept under the flamme rouge.

The 27 year old then proved the fastest finisher and let out a roar of delight once he’d taken his win.

Three Days of De Panne 2016 – stage 2 results (Zottegem – Koksijde):

1 Elia Viviani (Sky)

5:01:04

2 Marcel Kittel (Etixx – QuickStep)

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3 Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)

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4 Amaury Capiot (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise)

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5 Adrien Petit (Direct Energie)

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6 Raymond Kreder (Roompot – Oranje Peloton)

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7 Paolo Simion (Bardiani CSF)

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8 Marc Sarreau (FDJ)

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9 Erik Baska (Tinkoff)

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10 Ivan Savitskiy (Gazprom-Rusvelo)

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