Rohan Dennis takes the lead as Elia Viviani wins stage two

Viviani wins Stage 2 in Tel Aviv as Dennis takes pink

Bennett lost out and finished third, with EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale's Sacha Modolo (Italy) claiming second place.

"I think Viviani, he sprinted but he didn't go full", admitted Dennis. "It would be tough to go further away".

The Italian rider Elia Viviani (Quick- Step Floors) won in a bunch sprint after a ride of 229 km. that began in Beersheba.

Viviani, 29, wasn t best pleased with Bennett but his victory proved ample compensation.

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

"We won so we re not looking to create tensions amongst our competitors but there was a moment where we touched, either I had to lean on him or I would have to break".

Boivin managed to snap up the points at the intermediate sprint while Frapporti took the only climb of the day allowing Barbin to remain in the blue climber's jersey.

"I've been a bit surprised because I had this idea but it's changed: I thought that outside the cities it would be desert but instead it's green, there are big roads and it's great for cycling", he said.

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A time trial specialist, today was a big day for Rohan. He rode his 400th Grand Tour stage at the Giro on Saturday, before completing his 401st in Eilat on Sunday, placing 57th on the stage, and in 91st place overall.

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.

Italian Jakub Mareczko was second with Bennett taking third.

I say "looks lovely" because while I'd have no hesitation scoffing down new delicacies on holidays, I've mainly stuck to the staples ahead of today's race start for fear of upsetting my stomach.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Giro but it just comes a bit early in the season for me and even though I've trained really well for it, as usual at this time of year, I'm uncertain of my form coming into it.

BMC's Dennis stayed out of danger on the stage and he will have the advantage when the race resumes after a rest day in Catania, Sicily on Tuesday.

"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. Having gone off in the first wave of riders he set the fastest time of the day, stopping the clock at 12 minutes and four seconds.

He and Italian Marco Frapporti lasted nearly 225km in the lead in scorching temperatures well over 30 degrees Celsius before they were swallowed up by a charging peloton.

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