TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Quick-Step rider Elia Viviani grabbed his second grand tour win at the Giro d’Italia on Saturday as Australian Rohan Dennis took the overall lead after the second stage.
Viviani was well off the pace with less than two kilometers to go but the Italian powered home to win comfortably ahead of Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) and Irishman Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Britain’s Chris Froome of Team Sky moved up one spot to 20th although he is now 38 seconds behind. He finished with the main group at the end of the 167km stage from Haifa to Tel Aviv.
On Friday, Tour de France champion Froome cut and grazed his right knee in a crash during a course reconnaissance in Jerusalem before the opening stage, a 9.7km time trial.
“A crash is always going to hurt but I’m just glad it wasn’t more serious,” Froome said before the start of Saturday’s second stage.
BMC Racing rider Dennis won the second intermediate sprint to gain crucial bonus seconds and eclipse defending champion Tom Dumoulin, of Team Sunweb, to take the pink jersey.
“The first thing is to try to keep it (the pink jersey) tomorrow so I can wear it in Italy and then just take it day by day... I’ve still got a lot to learn and I’m sure at some stage I’m going to lose the jersey but I won’t stop fighting for it until we finish in Rome,” Dennis said.
Dumoulin said he was disappointed to lose the race leadership but felt confident he would be able to regain it.
“It’s never nice to lose the jersey but maybe in three weeks’ time ... it could be an advantage,” he said.
Enrico Barbin, of Bardiani–CSF, was the first to the summit in the solitary climb in the second stage to clinch the blue jersey in Tel Aviv as tens of thousands of spectators lined the coastal route to witness the first event of its kind in Israel.
The last of the three stages in the Giro’s “Big Start” in Israel, a 229km stage through the Negev desert from Beersheba to Eilat, takes place on Sunday. The Giro then resumes on Tuesday in Sicily with the fourth stage.
Click this link to view the Giro route: tmsnrt.rs/2I4fLUR
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru and Ori Lewis in Tel Aviv; Editing by Clare Fallon and Pritha Sarkar