Winning the first stage of the seven-day WorldTour event in Belgium and The Netherlands marked a strong return to form for Kittel after he became sick and abandoned the Tour de France in July.
“There was strong teamwork today and everybody could see the boys did a good job,” Kittel told Cyclingnews.com after the win. “It was still a hard sprint for me, as I had spent two weeks off the bike in July.”
A crash two kilometers before the finish in Middelburg caused a split in the field, and only 30 riders, including Kittel, remained in the front group intact. After getting a perfect lead-out from teammate Tom Veelers, Kittel outsprinted Arnaud Demare and Taylor Phinney, who finished second and third respectively.
The Tour of Eneco continues through Sunday.