LONDON — Germany's Marcel Kittel showed he may be the sprinter to beat at the Tour de France, speeding to his second stage win this year in Stage 3 on Monday as cycling's big event entered London before leaving England for France.
Rain in the City of London doused riders at the end of the 155-kilometer (96-mile) ride from the university town of Cambridge to a dramatic finish past landmarks like Big Ben and Westminster.
Italy's Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall leader's yellow jersey with a 2-second lead on the most likely contenders to win the three-week race in Paris on July 27.
Kittel, led out perfectly by Giant-Shimano teammates, made it look easy as he sped down the final wide approach on The Mall with Buckingham Palace behind him. Peter Sagan of Slovakia was second and Australia's Mark Renshaw was third.
"It was awesome," said Kittel, who won four Tour stages last year. "I'm really really happy I could win in front of Buckingham Palace."
After a grueling up-and-down day through the hills and dales of Yorkshire on Sunday, amid huge roadside crowds, the pack seemed content to cruise a bit for Stage 3 — letting two breakaway riders go free. They were caught with about 6 kilometers (4 miles) left.
Riders were to fly across the Channel for the start of today's Stage 4 — a 163.5-kilometer (105-mile) ride from Le Touquet-Paris Plage to Lille Metropole on the border with Belgium.