Marcel Kittel Giant-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel was in a different league. Cannondale, F des J, Giant, Greenedge, Sky, Trek – they all tried to take control in the finale in Belfast in Stage Two on Saturday.

But none could.

It’s not until you see a situation like we did in Belfast that you realise just how good Mario Cipollini’s Acqua Sapone and Cav’s HTC trains really were.

In the event, it was irrelevant. Kittel was way back and would usually have been out of it but turned left, found clear road, turned on the boosters and left the others scrabbling for the placings.

Marcel Kittel
Marcel Kittel turns on the turbo to take Stage One. Photo©Fabio Ferrari

This was his sixth win of the season – there was the pre-Tour Down Under Adelaide Classic, three stages in Dubai and the Scheldeprijs.

Kittel was originally a time trial rider taking medals at junior and U23 level through German National, European and Worlds level – he took bronze in Geelong in 2010.

But when he joined Skil Shimano in 2011 they looked at his ‘numbers’ and thought; ‘wait a minute!’

He had 21 wins last year; 13 in 2012 and 18 in 2011 but despite all those wins he was only 57th in the World Tour rankings at the year end.

Marcel Kittel
Kittel conducts himself with great dignity at the presser. Photo©Gian Mattia D’Alberto
Marcell Kittel
The bunch stretch along the Belfast roads. Photo©Simon Nicholls.

Bouhanni says he went too early – but then he has to say something.

The Frenchman is still only 23 but has already been French champion, taking seven wins in 2012 and 10 last year.

This year he’s had five; stages in the Etoile de Besseges, Paris-Nice, Criterium International, Circuit de la Sarthe and the single day GP Denain.

This is his second Giro and he’s obviously not over awed by it.

Marcel Kittel
Nacer Bouhanni is still very young, but building up a great palmarés. Photo©Daniele Bottallo

It’s good to see French guys ‘doing the biz’ – and with the benefit of hindsight, those ‘Two Speed Peloton’ stories seem more believable now with riders like Barguil, Bouhanni, Coquard, Demare and Pinot all much more than ‘Frenchmen seeking a consolation Tour stage.’

Marcel Kittel
James Nizzolo is maybe one to watch. Photo©Daniele Bottallo

Nizzolo was third for Trek; he took two stages in Luxembourg last year and second in the GP Plouay – he had four wins in 2012 and a podium in Hamburg; so he’s not a bad rider and started the year well with a win in San Luis.

Originally on the Italian junior track squad he’s quick – but then so are a lot of people just now…

Ciao ciao.

Marcel Kittel
The break of the day. Photo©Simon Nicholls
Marcel Kittel
GreenEdge kept the jersey with Michael Matthews and in the last few weeks have more than made up for their poor spring showing. Photo©Gian Mattia D’Alberto