Viviani wins third stage, Dennis keeps lead

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Australian Rohan Dennis kept the pink jersey that he wrestled away from defending champion Tom Dumoulin on Saturday.

Italy's Elia Viviani sprinted to victory for a second successive day at the Giro d'Italia as the Big Start in Israel concluded.

"The pressure was off after yesterday's win".

"To be honest I always raced without thinking about my competitors", said Viviani, who won a track gold medal at the 2016 Olympics and rides for Quick-Step Floors. 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.

With the opening time trial and two sprint stages complete, the Giro will head to hillier territory as the riders travel to Italy, where the contenders will seperate themselves from the pack. The Dutchman remained in second place overall as Jose Goncalves moved into third.

Ryan Mullen and Nicolas Roche both finished in the peloton in the same time as the stage victor.

This followed on from a Friday 9.7 kilometer individual time trial in Jerusalem and a Saturday 167 kilometer race that saw cyclists cover the distance from Tel Aviv to Haifa.

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Dennis' ability to stay out of danger means he will have the advantage when the race resumes after a rest day in Catania, Sicily on Tuesday. The Giro will end in Rome on May 27. Some riders lost contact as it was not an easy stage.

Dennis praised the enthusiasm of Israeli fans he encountered over the three days. "Israelis are the greatest fans in the world".

"I think Viviani, he sprinted but he didn't go full", admitted Dennis.

The peloton seemed relaxed as it departed Be'er Sheva with a trio managing to escape pretty easily consisting of Guillaume Boivin (Israel Cycling Academy), Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF) and Marco Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec).

Many in the country associated with organizing the Big Start Israel gave a sigh of relief as the riders crossed the finish line on Sunday, capping off the most complicated, expensive, and logistically challenging sporting event Israel has ever hosted, according to Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev. "This was a Giro d'Israel - a three-day tour around our special country".

At the conclusion of the Sunday stage, almost 1,000 people and three cargo planes will leave Israel and continue on to the next leg of the race in Sicily.