Viviani storms to stage victory as opportunistic Dennis assumes Giro lead
Elia Viviani showed his sprinting quality to take victory on stage two of the Giro d'Italia as Rohan Dennis moved into the pink jersey.
The Italian claimed his second stage win at a Grand Tour in Tel Aviv as he powered away from the peloton to cross the line just ahead of Jakub Mareczko and Sam Bennett.
Viviani reacted superbly to losing the lead out from his Quick-Step Floors team-mates, surging past Mareczko and Bennett to take the win - using the former to put himself in prime position.
With the line in sight, Viviani turned on the afterburners to claim victory after a challenging end to the 167 kilometres down the Israeli coast from Haifa.
It is the 29-year-old's fifth stage success since moving from Team Sky ahead of the new season, the Olympic omnium champion showing he can perform both on track and on the road.
While Dennis takes over the lead from Tom Dumoulin, the Dutchman still enjoys a comfortable cushion over his expected general classification rivals on a day that saw little movement in their time gaps.
DENNIS SPRINTS TO PINK
Dennis began the second day of the race trailing defending champion Dumoulin by just two seconds, and although they both finished within the peloton it is the Australian who takes over the lead.
That is thanks to some excellent tactical riding from BMC Racing, Dennis' team putting him at the front of the peloton for the day's second intermediate sprint.
"I have to thank the team," said the new leader. "I didn't want to sprint today, I didn't want to because the guys would then have to ride. But they said, no we back you."
As a result, Dennis becomes the 23rd rider to have worn the leader's jersey at all three Grand Tours.
He added: "It's a real honour. Of course I'd like to keep it, but it's a long way, it's a dream, but I'm realistic, and I have to think stage by stage. Now, I'm going to enjoy this pink jersey."
Scenes from the finish line of #Giro101 stage 2 as @RohanDennis and the team celebrate taking the overall lead of the race. We're looking forward to seeing you in pink very soon, Rohan ! pic.twitter.com/jpmDNqg0Jt-- BMC Racing Team (@BMCProTeam) May 5, 2018
1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) 3:51:20
2. Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina - Selle Italia)
3. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe)
4. Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain Merida)
5. Sacha Modolo (Team EF Education First-Drapac)
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS
1. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) 4:03:21
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) +0:01
3. Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Fix All) +0:03
4. Jose Goncalves (Katusha-Alpecin) +0:13
5. Alex Dowsett (Katusha-Alpecin) +0:17
The final outing of the historic trip to Israel sees the peloton tackle a 229km route from Be'er Sheva to Eilat, travelling inland along the undulating roads through the Negev desert. After a solitary categorised climb, the road will flatten out for a sprint finish.