Giro d’Italia: Viviani takes stage 2, Dennis in pink

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Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) claimed the second Maglia Rosa of the Giro d’Italia by securing the maximum three bonus seconds in stage 2’s second intermediate sprint, overtaking Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).

Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) won stage 2 in a bunch sprint, just ahead of Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) at the end of the 167km stage down the Mediterranean coast from Haifa to Tel Aviv. Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) came in third.

“Rémi [Cavagna] took the responsibility on his shoulders and closed the breakaway, Styby [Zdenek Stybar] brought us to the front, then Florian [Sénéchal] took over with two kilometres to go before Michael [Mørkøv] and Saba [Fabio Sabatini] dropped me in the closing kilometre. It was chaotic because of all those corners and roundabouts, but we can be proud of ourselves,” Viviani said.

Watch the stage 2 Giro d’Italia stage highlights

Sunweb had little intention of defending Dumoulin’s pink jersey so early, and none of the top sprinters kept themselves close enough in the time trial to take advantage of bonus seconds. That left an opening for Dennis, who started the stage just two seconds behind Dumoulin.

“The plan was to just play it by ear initially,” Dennis said after the stage. “We knew that the second sprint was the one with bonus time and we thought that if it was within grasp, and the breakaway wasn’t too far away, we would try. About 40km or 50km from the sprint, they asked me if I wanted to do and I said not really but we did it anyway and I thought that I can’t not put 100% into it. The team delivered me exactly where I needed to be for the sprint and all I had to do was go as hard as I could and there was no way I couldn’t win it. Then after that, it was about making sure I didn’t lose time in the splits in the final. It was massive teamwork.”

“It’s a special feeling to have the Maglia Rosa. Yesterday was a bit disappointing but the team backed me today and the team did everything possible to put me into pink. It’s a great jersey and it’s a real honor to be the leader of a Grand Tour and for our team, we wanted to do it for Andy Rihs. He put a lot into our team and we wanted to give back to him and to do this for him and his family is a real pleasure for us. We will keep it as long as possible but I think for me it is more about learning still. I’m sure at some stage it will be taken away from me but I will keep fighting all the way to Rome.”

Rohan Dennis has now worn the leaders jersey in all three Grand Tours and just third Australian in history to have achieved this, behind Brad McGee and Cadel Evans.

“When I first started cycling, I never thought that I would wear all Grand Tour leaders’ jerseys. I saw guys do things like this and I always thought that was really amazing so to be a part of that little group is a real honor.”

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