Rohan Dennis takes the lead as Elia Viviani wins stage two

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Jakub, Maresco (Italy, Wilier Triestina - Selle Italia) 5.

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

But having been left out of the Sky team to ride the Giro a year ago, Viviani wasn't going to let lightning strike twice. The speed of the sprint was a bit low because of the corner with 350 to go.

Cyclists also anxious about the wind, which reached up to 35 kph (20 mph) in the stretch leading up to Eilat. Luckily it wasn't as hot as we feared. For when Bennett launched his sprint early, Viviani shouldered in ahead of Modolo to take the Irishman's slipstream with aplomb. "But the final straight was good for me". It doesn't matter what the other top sprinters are doing at the moment, I've already faced them at the beginning of the season. Israel's selection as a hosting country was viewed as a historic victory and marks the first time this leg of the race has been held outside of Europe.

Viviani, 29, also secured the maglia ciclamino by soaring to the top of the points classification.

Four-time Tour de France victor Chris Froome, who bloodied his right knee, and ripped his shorts and jersey in a training crash before Friday's opening leg, finished safely in the middle of the peloton.

The riders will then take a breathe for a day of rest before travelling to Southern Italy to continue the three week race, across 21 stages.


Froome remains 19th overall, 38 seconds behind the race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC) and 37 seconds behind his main rival for the pink jersey, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).

Giro organisers have previously mooted the possibility of starting the race in Tokyo or Washington, but Dennis said there must be a limit in terms of how far riders are expected to travel from one day to the next.

"I have competed in the Classics so I was ready for 230km today".

Froome was left with road rash down the right side of his body as well as a bloodied knee. Here it's been the complete opposite.

"They took to the race really well and supported us like they were a really big cycling country, which was really nice", he said. "This amount of enthusiastic people is scary sometimes but it's definitely better than an absolute silence".

Another Italian, Enrico Barbin of Bardiani-CSF, secured the first blue king of the mountains jersey of the 101st edition of the race after picking his way through the crowds to crest the summit of the only categorised climb of the day in pole position.

Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates of the Australia-based Mitchelton-Scott team finished 15th and 16th respectively.

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