Kittel beats Blythe to Houtland-Lichtervelde
Marcel Kittel beat Britain's Adam Blythe in a bunch sprint to win Omloop van het Houtland-Lichtervelde.
The race served as the final opportunity for riders to hone their form before competing in Sunday's world road race championship in The Netherlands.
And the 193.8 kilometre event finished in its' traditional gallop to the line with the German from Argos-Shimano edging out BMC's Blythe.
Blythe improved on his third place finish in 2010 but could not deny Kittel his 10th victory of the year with Belgian champion Timothy Dupont third.
Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Tobias Ludvigsson (Team Argos-Shimano), Roy Jans (An Post - Sean Kelly), Laurent Evrard (Wallonie Bruxelles-Crédit Agricole) and Tom Zirbel (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) built up a lead of 3:30 after an hour of racing but the sprinters' teams ensured they would not gain a substantial advantage.
The four-man breakaway was brought back as the peloton did eight laps of a 9.8km finishing circuit and with a kilometre to go, Klaas Lodewyck shepherded Blythe onto Kittel's wheel in anticipation of the bunch sprint but he could not pass him
"The team did a super job for me and I just waited for the finish, riding as easy as I could," Blythe said.
"But Kittel was just too strong. I couldn't get past him."