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Kittel out of Giro d'Italia as Bouhanni wins stage four

ESPN staff
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Marcel Kittel complained of feeling unwell after Sunday's victory © Getty Images
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The winner of two successive stages at the Giro d'Italia Marcel Kittel has withdrawn from the event due to illness.

The Giant-Shimano rider won Saturday's second stage in Belfast and pipped Great Britain's Ben Swift to the victory on Sunday in Dublin, but shortly after the sprint finish on stage three the German collapsed.

Kittel, who did not start Tuesday's stage four from Giovinazzo to Bari, said: "I am very disappointed about leaving the Giro after such a strong start. But I do not feel healthy and I am not in the position to start."

Team coach Marc Reef said Kittel had felt unwell after Sunday's stage. "Yesterday morning he said that he felt better, but this morning at breakfast he had the same complaints.

"After a few check-ups with our team physician we saw that the fever had deteriorated and so we made the decision together that he should not continue."

Stage four was won by Nacer Bouhanni, who became the first Frenchman in three years to win a stage at the Giro d'Italia after recovering from a puncture in wet conditions to beat Giacomo Nizzolo and Tom Veelers to the victory.

Bouhanni, who picked up the problem 2km from the end of the stage, said: "I suffered a puncture on the front wheel and had a problem with the rear wheel but my team-mates were fantastic in pulling me back towards the front of the peloton."

Orica-GreenEdge's Michael Matthews retains the overall lead as he has an eight-second advantage over Alessandro Petacchi.

Nacer Bouhanni sprints to victory © Getty Images
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