"Beersheba - Eilat": Elia Viviani won the second stage in a row

"Beersheba - Eilat": Elia Viviani won the second stage in a row

Should stand. With AP Photos.

Viviani overcame route "beer Sheva - Eilat" in 5 hours 2 minutes 9 seconds.

Sunday's route was the second-longest leg of the 21-day race.

Elia Viviani said he wouldn't have been able to win Saturday's Giro d'Italia stage in Tel Aviv had he still been riding for British team Sky.

"The pressure was off after yesterday's win, but the final straight was good for me", Viviani said.

Dennis, 27, had edged out Viviani at an intermediate sprint 91km into the stage to claim the three bonus seconds he needed to take the race lead.

Having changed teams in the off-season, Viviani had a busy start to the year with Quick-Step, winning the Dubai Tour in February, taking the points classification at the Abu Dhabi Tour a couple of weeks later and then finishing second to world champion Peter Sagan at Gent-Wevelgem in March.

Mullen is the best of the Irish on the overall general classification in 46th position, 58 seconds off the lead, while Bennett is 64th, 14 seconds behind his compatriot.

Ireland's Sam Bennett, who Viviani later accused of forcing him towards the barriers, ended third on the same time.

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The race will then transfer to Italy, and the island of Sicily, for an early rest day on Monday.

"This was a Giro d'Israel, a threeday tour around our special country".

They encountered Israeli flag-waving fans and spectators on horseback wearing the maglia rosa along the way, and even passed a group of goat herders.

Dennis said the ride through the desert was not as hot as originally feared and that strong winds were the main obstacle as they went through the barren moonscape after passing by its famous craters.

After three days racing in Sicily, the Giro will move onto the Italian mainland, although not before the overall contenders have had a chance to test themselves on a summit finish at Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in western Europe.

"That doesn't take anything away from the fantastic years I had with the team because if I hadn't been with Sky, I don't know if I would have won the Olympics".

Guillaume Boivin, riding for the Israel Cycling Academy, used his knowledge of the hard conditions to establish an early breakaway alongside Marco Frapporti and Enrico Barbin.

Giro d'Italia is the biggest and most prestigious sporting event staged in Israel and coincides with the Jewish state's 70th anniversary.

The Israel Cycling Academy assembled its own team that consisting of two Israelis in its eight-members squad, competing for the first time in the European competition.

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