Dennis in the pink as Viviani wins second stage

Nicolas Roche

Dennis was no match, however, for Elia Viviani, of Quick-Step Floors, who sealed his second consecutive stage win in the bunch sprint finish.

The 36-year-old aims to return to racing after the Giro d'Italia at the Tour de Pologne, then "come back for the Vuelta and be on the look-out for some stage wins".

Rohan Dennis (pink) stayed inside the BMC bubble to finish Stage 3 safely.

Mareczko held off Ireland's Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) while Italians Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain Merida) and Sacha Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac) completed the top five.

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 pack. Carlton Kirby was trying his best to brew excitement but I couldn't help but feel I was being punished by being made to watch the peloton roll through the empty desert.

Dennis claimed three bonus seconds in an intermediate sprint earlier on the 167-kilometre stage from Haifa to overcome his two-second deficit from Friday's opening time-trial in Jerusalem.

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"The team rode for me in the 30km before the intermediate sprint and delivered me perfectly", said Dennis, who beat Viviani in that race within the race. The Dutchman remained in second place overall as Jose Goncalves moved into third.

Tomorrow sees the first rest day of the race to allow the peloton and its accompanying circus to head back to Italy, where racing resumes on Sicily on Tuesday with a 198-kilometre stage from Catania to Caltagirone.

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

The Giro d'Italia's Israeli excursion is over, and now the excitement begins. They encountered Israeli flag-waving fans and spectators on horseback wearing Giro pink shirts along the way, and even passed a group of goat herders. I think there has to be a point where we go: "Ok, that's too far".

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. "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.

"We don't know if it's because it's a big event or whether it's for cycling but the atmosphere has been special in these three days".

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