Marcel Kittel sprinted to victory in the opening stage of the Volta ao Algarve on Wednesday, his third win this month. 

The German, in his first season with Etixx Quick-Step, beat compatriot Andre Greipel to the line after the 164km ride to Albufeira.

His two stage victories on the Dubai Tour gave him an overall title in the Middle East, and he now leads the early general classification in southern Portugal.

The bonus seconds on offer for the winner put him four seconds clear of Greipel and six ahead of Belgian Jasper Stuyven, who was third on the day.

The second stage on Thursday will be far tougher for the sprinters though, with an uphill finish coming at the end of a 198km trek.

Results from the first stage:

1. Marcel Kittel (GER/Etixx-QuickStep), 3:52:35, 2. André Greipel (GER) same time, 3. Jasper Stuyven (BEL) s.t, 4. Wouter Wippert (NED) s.t, 5. Victor Campanaerts (BEL) s.t

General Classification:

1. Marcel Kittel (GER/Etixx-QuickStep) 3:52:25, 2. André Greipel (GER) 4sec, 3. Jasper Stuyven (BEL) 6sec, 4. Wouter Wippert (NED) 10sec, 5. Victor Campanaerts (BEL) s.t

Agence France-Presse

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