Dennis keeps pink as Viviani claims second stage win

by Linda Olson May 8, 2018, 0:40
Dennis keeps pink as Viviani claims second stage win

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Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) won stage 2 in a bunch sprint, just ahead of Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) at the end of the 167km stage down the Mediterranean coast from Haifa to Tel Aviv.

Sacha Modolo (Cannondale-Drapac) finished second as Bennett faded into third on the 229km stage from Be'er Sheva to Eilat, the longest of this year's race.

BMC Racing rider Dennis won the second intermediate sprint to gain crucial bonus seconds and eclipse defending champion Tom Dumoulin, of Team Sunweb, to take the maglia rosa. The general classification was unlikely to change on the predominantly flat route however, with the GC contenders eyeing the upcoming stage on return to Italy.

The riders will leave Israel for Italy on Monday, with the Giro to resume on the island of Sicily on Tuesday.

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The Giro start was seen as the biggest sporting event staged in Israel, and coincides with the country marking 70 years of independence.

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"Tim Wellens is riding very well, but I took a really big break after Abu Dhabi, and then did Catalunya - but only riding gently, with not much training, so I've had a good rest before coming here", he said. "For me, Israel has already won this race, as it afforded hundreds of millions of TV spectators to see our attractive country, and feel the warmth of our people, bearing witness that Israel is a diverse, open, free and safe country".

Britain's Chris Froome finished safely in the peloton along with his rivals for the overall race win on a day that was set up for a bunch sprint.

Italian Elia Viviani, who won the second and third stages, said he had been impressed with the enthusiasm shown by Israelis for the Giro.

"For me, Israel has already won this race, as it afforded hundreds of millions of TV spectators to see our handsome country and feel the warmth of our people", he told The Associated Press.

Australia's Rohan Dennis kept the race leader's pink jersey.

He praised the enthusiasm of the Israeli fans he encountered over the three days.

Jerusalem's opening leg was named in honor of Gino Bartali, a three-time former Giro champion who in 2013 was posthumously bestowed Israel's highest honor given to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II. I was already on his side when he made a clear move to the barriers, he was pushing me towards the roadside but I made him understand that I was already there.

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