Marcel Kittel sprinted to victory in a wet second stage of the Giro d'Italia as Michael Matthews took the overall leader's pink jersey from Orica-GreenEdge teammate Svein Tuft.

Kittel timed his move to perfection, with 200m remaining, to edge out Nacer Bouhanni and Giacomo Nizzolo in a bunch sprint at the end of the 218km leg, which started and ended in Belfast.

The German cyclist clocked more than five hours to claim his first stage win on the day before his 26th birthday.

Despite the heavy rain, thousands of people lined the route which took in picturesque rock formation, the Giant's Causeway, as it wound down the coast.

Two Garmin-Sharp cyclists withdrew from the race following a crash in the opening team time trial. Dan Martin will have surgery on a broken collarbone.

Fernandez' bad break

Teammate Koldo Fernandez finished the stage, but tests afterwards revealed he also broke his clavicle.

There was an early break of four riders when Jeffry Romero, Maarten Tjallingii, Sander Armee and Andrea Fedi swiftly built a lead of more than six minutes on the peloton, which was led by time trial winner Orica.

Tjallingii had a fantastic stage. Not only did the Dutch cyclist lead for most of the day, but he also powered up both category four climbs to claim the blue King of the Mountains jersey.

With the peloton quickly catching the four escapees, Tjallingii made a solo break with 8km to go and briefly looked like holding on until he was caught with little more than 3km remaining.

The third stage is a 187km cross-border leg from Armagh to Dublin.

Source: AP