Elia Viviani wins Giro d'Italia second stage as Rohan Dennis leads

Elia Viviani

Elia Viviani

"It was ideal", said the Sunweb rider, who won his fourth Giro stage and is the first reigning champion for 12 years to also claim the opening stage of the following Giro edition.

The victor of the third stage of the Cycling race "Giro d'italia" was an Italian athlete Elia Viviani, winning yesterday at the stage of "Haifa - tel Aviv". Tom Dumoulin behind him for a second.

Although he improved over the second half, he even finished behind slight climbers such as fellow Briton Simon Yates (seventh at 20sec), Italian Domenico Pozzovivo (10th at 27sec) and Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (16th at 33sec).

"Rémi [Cavagna] took the responsibility on his shoulders and closed the breakaway, Styby [Zdenek Stybar] brought us to the front, then Florian [Sénéchal] took over with two kilometres to go before Michael [Mørkøv] and Saba [Fabio Sabatini] dropped me in the closing kilometre".

This is the first time the Australian, who has worn leader jerseys at the Vuelta a España and Tour de France, has succeeded in holding onto the top spot overall of a Grand Tour.

Dennis added: "It was good to see Viviani get the stage win after not giving it to me, but he was kind, let's be honest!" It was massive teamwork.

When I found out a few days ago that I was off third last today, in between Chris Froome and former world time trial champion Tony Martin, my cousin Eric reassured me that at least if I wasn't going well the cameras would probably be focused on the other two anyway.

"That doesn't take anything away from the fantastic years I had with the team because if I hadn't been with Sky, I don't know if I would have won the Olympics".

"It was insane", sad Viviani, "there were so many people coming onto roads - I'll take that away with me!"

The Israel Cycling Academy squad was making its maiden Grand Tour appearance and enjoyed the sight of one of its riders, Canadian Guillaume Boivin, leading for much of the stage before he was passed by the sprinters in the windy descent into Eilat. "I saw Bennett go early and I went on his right side and did the full sprint to the line". That didn't happen, but their actions made for a hectic and chaotic finish, leaving every rider on their own.

"It sewed the first seeds of thought about changing teams but that wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back, it was at the end of the season and discovering that Froome would be riding the Giro and once again I might be excluded".

It won't be as straightforward when the race resumes on Tuesday night after a rest day, with a hilly stage ending in an steep uphill finish on the agenda - providing Bennett and his rivals with their first chance to strike a blow on Italian soil.

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