Viviani takes stage 2, Dennis in pink

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Race favourite Chris Froome and a year ago s victor Tom Dumoulin both enjoyed an uneventful day riding safely in the peloton to finish in the same time as the victor.

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Italian cyclist Elia Viviani came from the back of the pack to win the second stage of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday.

On Saturday, Olympic omnium champion Viviani, 29, seemed to have left his charge to the line quite late but burst through from well behind to emerge from the back wheel of Irishman Sam Bennett and surge to victory.

BMC Racing's Rohan Dennis (Australia), despite not finishing in the top-10, managed to retain his pink leader's jersey after staying in the peloton as the stage down to a nerve-wrecking end. 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.

Elia Viviani won the third stage of the 101st Giro d'Italia in a bunch sprint finish.

Race favourite Chris Froome finished safely in the peloton after a bunch sprint in the Mediterranean coastal resort of Tel Aviv.

The team delivered me exactly where I needed to be for the sprint and all I had to do was go as hard as I could and there was no way I couldn't win it.

"But as I say, anything over five hours for the travel is probably too much".

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The victory was his first ever second stage win at the Giro d'Italia.

He was 19th, 38 seconds behind the leader. From Cervinia, the Giro will move on May 27th to Rome for the 21 and last stage.

Dennis said the ride through the desert was not as hot as originally feared and that strong winds were the main obstacle as they went through the barren moonscape after passing by its famous craters.

"The way the fans responded these three days, we've been impressed - we've also spoken about it amongst the riders - a Tour of Israel could be a good thing one day", he said.

"They took to the race really well and supported us like they were a really big cycling country, which was really nice", he said.

Israel Cycling Academy's Guillaume Boivin was cheered on by the home crowd as the Canadian, along with Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF), led the race from the start. "This was a Giro d'Israel - a three-day tour around our special country".

Since 2006, the Giro has commenced alternate years with a "Big-Start" competition outside of Italy.

It remains to be seen whether Froome is 100 per cent recovered from that crash.