Kittel wins Eneco opener, Contador satisfied
Marcel Kittel of Argos-Shimano won the opening stage of the Eneco Tour in the Netherlands.
The German - who missed the Tour de France through injury - came out on top of a bunch sprint at the end of a flat 204km stage.
He beat Arnaud Demare (FDJ-BigMat) and Taylor Phinney (BMC) in the sprint for the line.
Kittel's win was made easier after a huge crash 3km from the end of the stage reduced the peloton to just 30 riders. He then made the most of a good lead-out from Tom Veelers to come out on top.
"There was a very strong team work today and everybody could see that the boys did a great job," Kittel said afterwards.
"It was still a hard sprint for me, as I had spent two weeks off the bike in July."
All eyes were on Alberto Contador, however, who was satisfied with his performance in his first competitive action since completing a doping ban.
The 29-year-old Spaniard, who was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title and banned for two years after testing positive for the anabolic agent clenbuterol, finished with the pack in 108th position on the stage to Middelburg.
"I had good feelings considering it was not the ideal day to start my comeback, with a stage of more than 200 kilometres, rain, a lot of wind and a flat course," the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank rider said.
"My team mates protected me at all times and I think that these days will do me good in terms of picking up rhythm for the Vuelta," he added. "We have a good team and I believe we can be very successful."
Contador is hoping to be part of the Spanish squad for the road world championships in the Netherlands in September after competing in the Tour of Spain later this month.
He has always maintained his innocence of deliberate doping, blaming the positive test result on contaminated meat.