Another Giro d'Italia podium finish for Sam Bennett

Elia Viviani wins Stage 2 as Rohan Dennis takes pink

"But the time trial in Jerusalem was simply magical, as the helicopter footage of this historic and splendid city, lined with cheering fans, took it up to another level", said honorary president of "Big Start" Israel Sylvan Adams.

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Italy's Elia Viviani won a thrilling final sprint to take the second stage of the Giro d'Italia in Tel Aviv.

Sacha Modolo (Team EF Education) and Sam Bennet (Bora - Hansgrohe) finished in second and third place, respectively.

Australian Rohan Dennis, of BMC Racing, took the race leader's pink jersey off reigning champion Tom Dumoulin. 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.

Racing at the Grand Tour will resume with a 198km stage from Catania to Caltagirone on Tuesday (May 8).

The 120 million shekel (34 million dollars, 27 million euros) investment in the Israeli leg attracted thousands of tourists as spectators watched to see whether four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome, victor of three Grand Tour titles in a row.

"I wasn't overly keen to do it but the team said we're doing it and they did an excellent job, they delivered me perfectly", said Dennis.

Elia Viviani, pictured here, took his second straight race win in stage three of the Giro d'Italia in Italy today.

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I felt like throwing up after about 500m and eventually lost a minute and 14 seconds to Dumoulin to finish 116th.

He was 19th, 38 seconds behind the leader. The Giro ends in Rome on May 27.

Cyclists at the starting line of Stage 3 of the Giro D'Italia in Beersheba, southern Israel, on May 6, 2018.

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.

He'd also won a stage in the Tour Down Under in January and triumphed at Three Days of De Panne in March.

"We knew that the second sprint was the one with bonus time and we thought that if it was within grasp, and the breakaway wasn't too far away, we would try".

Having led much of Saturday's stage, Israel Cycling Academy's Guillaume Boivin once again hit the front of the race early on, narrowly missing out on the King of the Mountains blue jersey.

In 2014, the Giro started in Belfast, but this year's opening weekend in Israel is the first time it's been outside of Europe.

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

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