But Viviani was right on his wheel and, despite nearly being pushed into the barriers by a veering Bennett, kept his nerve to take his third stage win at the Giro as the Irishman was forced into third. Should stand. With AP Photos.
Italy's Elia Viviani sprinted to victory for a second successive day at the Giro d'Italia as the Big Start in Israel concluded.
He'd also won a stage in the Tour Down Under in January and triumphed at Three Days of De Panne in March.
Rohan Dennis (pink) stayed inside the BMC bubble to finish Stage 3 safely.
"The pressure was off after yesterday's win".
But having been left out of the Sky team to ride the Giro previous year, Viviani wasn't going to let lightning strike twice.
Today's stage, I rode these roads during the training camp and nine times out of ten coming down that last downhill, there is a massive tailwind, so I knew if we could get there, with a big enough gap, it would be hard for the peloton to close the gap. He is now 19th, 38 seconds behind the leader.
"When I first started cycling, I never thought that I would wear all Grand Tour leaders' jerseys".
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Racing at the Grand Tour will resume with a 198km stage from Catania to Caltagirone on Tuesday (May 8). The Giro will end in Rome on May 27.
The Giro has been warmly embraced in Israel.
We're heading to Italy with two stage wins, the ciclamino points jersey and the best young rider's jersey with Max Schachmann. They encountered Israeli flag-waving fans and spectators on horseback wearing Giro pink shirts along the way, and even passed a group of goat herders.
"The only thing we could have improved with coming to Israel is flying (back to Italy) tonight (Sunday)", said Dennis, the race leader.
Another Italian, Enrico Barbin of Bardiani-CSF, secured the first blue king of the mountains jersey of the 101st edition of the race after picking his way through the crowds to crest the summit of the only categorised climb of the day in pole position.
Sylvan Adams, one of the event's organizers in Israel said the competition went "flawlessly", according to the Jerusalem Post, adding that she was "filled with pride" watching her fellow citizens line the streets to support the race, in particular she was warmed by the support for the Israeli team.
According to Ministry of Tourism estimates: to date, more than half a billion people around the world have been exposed to the ministry's campaign, within the framework of the Giro d'Italia Big Start in Israel.
Following the stage, Viviani said: "In the first two hours of racing I felt very bad".