For the second time in three English stages to open the 2014 Tour de France, German sprinter Marcel Kittel won the race to the finish line in the shadow of Buckingham Palace on the streets of London on Tuesday.
A two-man chase group set off early in the stage but the combo of Jean-Marc Bideau and Jan Barta never got more than a couple of minutes ahead on the road and peloton expertly reeled them in just a few kilometers from the finish line in London to set up a perfect sprint finish.
Led by his Giant Shimano team, Kittel pulled off his lead wheel for the final push in the lead, not necessarily an envious position with Green Jersey leader Peter Sagan right on his back wheel. However the German was able to keep up a top speed that left Sagan and the rest of the sprinters without a shot; Sagan never even made a move off Kittel's wheel and finished second.
While Sagan retained the Green Jersey as the points leader, Kittel is making quite the case as the top sprinter in this Tour de France after English star Mark Cavendish crashed out of the race in Stage 1. Monday was his sixth career Tour de France stage victory.
It was a day that started out as a perfect English summer day with sunshine all the way on the run up to London but then it turned it into a stereotypical English day when the rain hit just a few miles from the end of the race. It didn't cause too many troubles, though there were a couple of spills in the closing turns as the peloton led up to the final sprint.
But not even some drizzle could take away from the incredible spectacle of watching the racers wind through the streets of London, hitting a turn right in front of Big Ben and zipping by Buckingham Palace to the finish all while thousands upon thousands of fans watched from the side of the road.
It wasn't exactly the sprint finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris but the backdrop was about as good as it gets next to that.
As for the General Classification, nothing changed in terms of the standings. Stage 2 winner Vincenzo Nibali held on to the Yellow with his two-second advantage on 20 riders.
Photo of the day
Well that's something you won't see every year in the Tour de France. The riders lead up to the sprint in London, whipping past Big Ben while the sides of the roads are packed with fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the race. From Olympic Park to the most iconic images of London, it was an amazing setting for a stage in le Tour (photo via Getty Images).
After three stages, the Tour finally hits French soil on Tuesday, starting on the Northeast coast town of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage before traversing across the northern part of France and then riding along the Belgian border up to the finish in Lille.
The 163.5 kilometer-stage has a couple of class-four climbs and some small climbs but is classified as a flat track, meaning the peloton should have no problem keeping near the front to let the sprinters have their day again. Might it be Kittel's day again?
It should be a pretty straight forward day before the potentially dangerous Stage 5 in Belgium on Wednesday where the cobblestones await.