Published Sunday, 11 May 2014
The Grand Tour set off from Armagh in the morning in damp conditions and, like Saturday's stage around the Causeway coast and Antrim glens, a group of riders surged clear early on.
But after the peloton brought the leaders back into the pack, it was German Kittel who pipped Britain's Ben Swift (Team Sky) to the stage triumph.
In a close sprint, Kittel was the one to get over the line first to add an extra reason for celebration on his 26th birthday. Swift finished second, with Elia Viviani, Davide Appollonio and Nacer Bouhanni in close proximity.
The victory sees Kittel retain the sprinter's jersey, while Orica Greenedge rider Michael Matthews keeps hold of the leader's jersey after finishing in the peloton.
Early into the stage, which saw early climbs up the Markethill Summit and Fews Forest, Maarten Tjallingii was one of five riders to pull clear of the chasing pack.
He was joined at the front by Yonder Godoy, Miguel Angel Rubiano, Gert Dockx and Giorgio Cecchinel and they pulled out a lead of just under three minutes as they approached Drogheda.
The peloton slowed down to wait for the Astana team after several riders, including Michele Scarponi and Enrico Gasparotto, crashed leading up to the stage's intermediate sprint, but were soon on their way again in their pursuit of the leading group.
And with 7km to go, despite a solo drive from Neri Sottoli rider Cecchinel to go for the stage, the peloton caught the leaders and Kittel did what he does best and pipped Swift for the victory just metres from the finish line.
Actually I thought I lost the race already because I was really in a not good position, but when I saw the finish line I thought, 'You don't give up now, you give everything you have.'
Dutchman Tjallingii was in the break for a second consecutive day and consolidated his lead in the mountains classification by taking maximum points in the early climbs.
The Giro's Grande Partenza on Irish soil finished with the end of stage three but the organisers will look back on a job well done in both the north and south.
Thousands lined the streets and created a buzz which the majority of riders have said was extraordinary and beyond their expectations.
Sheep, horses and donkeys along the stage routes were painted in various shades of pink while many stores got involved by putting Giro-themed displays in their windows.
Arts events and festivals took place across the north and south as Ireland showcased its capability to host a world class event, and with it, the region is firmly on the map to stage future sporting events.
© UTV News