Buongiorno and welcome to our live coverage from stage 2 of the 2018 Giro d'Italia. After Friday's time trial today is the first road race stage.
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The minutes are ticking down to the start of stage 2. The sun is out in Haifa, with the sprinters ready to win the sprint in Tel Aviv.
After Friday's time trial, the overall classification already has an interesting shape with stage winner Tom Dumoulin in the leader's pink jersey.
The riders are a little worried about possible cross winds and echelons along the coast road to Tel Aviv.
From the Cyclingnews blimp we can see the riders roll out of Haifa for the neutralised start.
Haifa is third largest city in Israel. The riders cover a loop north before turning south and along the coast to Tel Aviv.
The section north should be with a tailwind and so will help a break away form quickly.
We will soon find out.
Chris Froome lost 37 seconds to Dumoulin in the TT after his recon crash. However he was smiling at the start today.
Froome rolled out of the start at the back of the peloton but is moving up to join his Team Sky teammates.
Tom Dumoulin lined up at the front in the pink jersey. As 2017 winner, he also wears number 1.
Froome has moved up to the front and is sat safely on teammate Christian Knees' wheel.
First flat of the day for Matteo Montaguti. He is quickly away.
Due to the logistics of the start in Israel, teams don't have team buses and so got changed in the open.
This is Team Sky preparing for the stage.
The riders face 11.9km neutralised before the official stage start. That means they face 178.9km in the saddle.
We'll have live coverage of every kilometre plus extra coverage and analysis post-stage.
Here we go!
Technical race director Stefano Allocchio drops the flag from the race director's car and the race is on/
The peloton is immediately lined out, the speed is up.
Lots of riders are trying to get away but Quick-Step Floors riders and Team Sunweb riders are marking the moves.
Davide Ballerini of Androni is off the front alone, trying to open a gap.
Two other riders are chasing him.
The peloton seems to have eased and spread across the road. This could be the early break of the day.
The other two riders are from Lotto Soudal and Israel.
But the peloton responds, with other riders attacking.
160km remaining from 167km
Victor Campenaerts and Guy Niv have joined Ballerini but the peloton is closing them down.
Gruppo compatto but Ballerini tries again.
He's desperate to show off the new Androni Giocattoli jersey that has even more sponsors on it.
Ballerini is joined by Lars Bak of Soudal, with Niv trying to join them.
But Bak does not seem convinced.
There is an intermediate sprint with points and time bonuses on offer after just 22km.
The break could struggle until then.
The peloton is spread across the road. Niv is struggling to go across to Ballerini and Bak after his earlier effort.
150km remaining from 167km
Bak and Ballerini have pulled away. Giv has eased up and been caught by the peloton. We have a break of two riders.
The race in Acres for the intermediate sprint. they will then turn east and then south towards Tel Aviv.
During today's stage, 13 time bonus seconds are up for grabs in the individual overall classification. A maximum of 90 points are available for the points classification and the first 3 points for the King of the Mountains competition.
The peloton seems ready to leave the two out front until after the sprint. We could then see a change in the break and the chase.
Sagiv of Israel Cycling Academy flats and gets a new rear wheel.
144km remaining from 167km
The roads are narrow in central Acres.
The peloton is riding carefully, helping the break extend its gap slightly.
A touch of wheels on narrow roads sparks a crash in the peloton.
Nobody is hurt or slowed very much, with all the riders eventually getting going.
However the bunch is split into 2 parts, with the front part slowing.
This has helped the break and Guillaume Boivin, who has jumped away from the peloton to try and join the break.
Here comes the intermediate sprint.
Ballerini surges slightly after speaking to Bak and so crosses the line first at the intermediate sprint.
There's a real sprint behind, as they fight for the points.
Viviani takes it, scoring 8 points in the battle for the ciclamino jersey.
Here comes Guillaume Boivin. He joins Ballerini and Bak.
Boivin breathes deep but takes a turn on the front.
135km remaining from 167km
The break seems to have lost interest and energy. Their gap is down to 30 seconds.
Victor Campenaerts is on the move. He's trying to join the break and Soudal teammate Bak.
The Euro TT champion is only 2 seconds behind Dumoulin and so could take he pink jersey if he takes the bonuses at the second intermediate sprint.
However BMC for Dennis and Sunweb for Dumoulin are chasing.
It will not be that easy for Victor Campenaerts to take over the pink jersey.
128km remaining from 167km
The riders reach Ahihud and turn south. The cross/head wind could now be a factor.
Sunweb have four riders on the front protecting Dumoulin's pink jersey.
Other teams and their leaders are also moving up in case the wind blows.
Team Sky has gathered together to protect Froome.
Dumoulin stops for a natural break and so the peloton eases, respecting the unwritten rules of the peloton.
Other riders also stop on the empty road.
125km remaining from 167km
The break has pushed clear to 1:40
Campenaerts appears to have eased up and been caught by the peloton.
121km remaining from 167km
Dumoulin is back up front as the riders enjoy the smooth, wide roads.
The riders are spread across the road as the team cars for the breakaway try to get across to feed their riders.
Viviani does some multi-tasking: He takes a natural break as a mechanic changes a wheel after a flat.
115km remaining from 167km
Despite the long wide roads, the break is now out of sight of the peloton. The gap is up to 3:30.
This is the first image of the break of the day.
Bak is wearing the new grey Lotto colours chosen for the Giro.
Their official name for the Giro is Lotto Fix-all.
110km remaining from 167km
The race has settled, with the break being held at 3:30 for now.
The feed zone comes at 88km to race, with the only climb of the day- which will award the blue jersey today, with 76km to go.
The second intermediate sprint comes with 61km to go.
108km remaining from 167km
The peloton is lined out at the head as Sunweb set a solid tempo.
Quick-Step and Wilier have also placed a rider on the front to help with the chase.
103km remaining from 167km
Team Sky is also near the front, protecting Froome.
BMC has a rider helping with the work on the front. They want to perhaps protect Dennis' second place in the hope he takes pink in the next few stages.
100km remaining from 167km
The riders are cheered on by good crowds from the roadside with exactly 100km to race.
There was lots of interest in Chris Froome at the start after his crash and time loss on Friday.
He went down hard on his left side and was seen limping. He then lost 37 seconds to Dumoulin in the TT. However he was smiling at the start.
Dumoulin rolled to the start in pink, with matching sunglasses, helmet and pink touches on his shorts.
Dumoulin raced the TT in his world champion's rainbow jersey.
To read our full report and see our huge photo gallery on the stage, click here.
93km remaining from 167km
The trio in the break are swapping turns as they keep their lead to 3:00.
The riders are heading into the southwest cross/head wind and so the riders are pacing their effort.
BMC have hit the front of the peloton and upped the pace. The gap is down to 1:20.
The BMC speed has lined out the peloton but the trip up front are just hoping to stay away until the only climb of the day and the second intermediate sprint.
BMC seem determined to chase down the break.
Dennis is only two seconds down on Dumoulin but how can the Australia beat the sprinters for the 3-2-1 time bonuses?
Everyone else in the peloton is fighting for the best wheels behind BMC as they ride into a headwind and near the only 4 cat climb of the day.
The peloton passes through the feed zone, grabbing their musette.
It is a hot day out there, close to 28C out there at the moment.
81km remaining from 167km
The whole BMC team is lined out on the front, with Dennis tucked in there.
They have made the peloton rush their feed lunch at the feed zone.
The break has just 40 seconds now.
80km remaining from 167km
The only climb of the day is coming up as the peloton can see the peloton chasing them down.
On the left turn off the highway, two riders go down in the squeeze.
The break is on the climb.
First to the top gets the blue mountains jersey.
The peloton is close to catching them.
The trio keep attacking each other and are joined by a Bardiani ride.
Sadly there are some crazy fans running in the road with the break.
The Bardiani rider is fresher and gets a gap on Boivin.
The peloton is just behind them at the summit.
Enrico Barbin of Bardiani was the first to the summit and so will pull on the blue climber's jersey at the finish in Tel Aviv.
75km remaining from 167km
However we will now see a different race in the final 75km to the finish.
Mitch Docker of EF has bike problem and stops on the fast descent to the coast.
We will soon find out exactly how fast the coastal wind will blow.
It could spark a battle or might not be strong enough.
71km remaining from 167km
BMC continues to lead the peloton on the flat highway. Behind lots of riders are collecting bottles to stay hydrated.
This is how crazy and how dangerous the crowds were on the climb. Despite the personal on the climb to control the crowds, lots of people tried to run with the riders.
The speed is high in the race as the second intermediate sprint nears.
BMC are trying to lead out Dennis so he can win it and so take the pink jersey.
But Dennis will need to beat the sprinter.
Viviani and Quick-Step are tucked in behind BMC.
63km remaining from 167km
2km to the sprint.
Watch out for Victor Campenaerts of Lotto.
He could also take pink if he wins the sprint.
Here we go. BMC up the speed even more.
Dennis kicks hard and early. He holds off Viviani.
Dennis is now virtual race leader now.
Tom Dumoulin had hinted he and Team Sunweb would not defend the race lead but few expected Dennis to take pink today.
However BMC chased down the early break, lead out Dennis and then the Australian produced a good sprint.
Viviani and Victor Campenaerts left their sprint a little too late and could not get up to Dennis at the line.
Dennis is congratulated by teammate Nicolas Roche. Now he has to finish with the sprinters and the peloton to take the pink jersey from Dumoulin.
56km remaining from 167km
Victor Campenaerts attacked after the sprint but the peloton lets him hang off the front.
The peloton is being amused by two riders dressed in pink body suits, riding a tandem.
This is the screen grab of the pink tandem duo that road on the other side of the highway, alongside the peloton.
In the virtual Gc, Dennis now leads Dumoulin by 1 second, with Campenaerts third at 3 seconds.
If Dennis pulls on the pink, he'll have worn the leader's jersey in each of three Grand Tours.
47km remaining from 167km
The Bora team is leading the peloton now as Guillaume Boivin tries to stay away off the front and fly the flag for the Israel CA team.
He leads by 45 seconds.
Bora is working for Sam Bennett's chances in the sprint.
Fabio Aru's UAE team is close to the front as the cross wind lines out the peloton and pushes it across to the rider's left side of the road.
The wind is definitely a cross/head wind from the left, from the seafront.
Boivin is trying punch his way into the headwind but the peloton is keeping him at 50 seconds.
36km remaining from 167km
Boivin is pushing out his lead to 1:30. He's flying the flag today.
33km remaining from 167km
Boivin is going deep on the wide highway. He's tucked in an aero position as the local fans cheer on their rider.
30km remaining from 167km
The wind is enough to hurt whoever leads the peloton and is forcing other riders to stay on the wheels but it is not enough to spark echelons.
There's a quiet before the storm of the sprint.
27km remaining from 167km
The peloton is chipping away at Boivin's lead. It's down to 1:00 now as the race heads to Tel Aviv close to the spectacular coast.
23km remaining from 167km
The high way is fast but Boivin is surely wishing the kilometres would tick down much faster.
The surf is up near Tel Aviv, confirming there is a sea breeze. But it is not enough to split the peloton.
However it could be enough to affect the sprint finish due to the late change in direction.
20km remaining from 167km
Here we go.
As the riders pass the 20km to go sign and grab a last bidon from the roadside, the speed is up as teams form their lead out trains.
Elia Viviani and his Quick-Step Floors is expected to dominate the lead out but the Italian faces some serious competition from Sam Bennett (Bora), Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina), Andrea Guardini (Bardiani), Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data), Sacha Modolo (EF), Danny van Poppel (LottoNL) and Jens Debusschere (Lotto).
We can expect Quick-Step to take control and try to lead out the sprint but other teams will try to ambush them in the final with micro-trains of 2/3 riders.
The final 5km includes 5 tight city-centre corners, including the final right turn with less than a kilometre to go.
Positioning will be vital.
Boivin has been swept up as Sky keep the pace high to protect Froome.
10km remaining from 167km
The speed is going up and up, as the sprinters' teams take charge. Froome is trying to stay save as is Dumoulin, in case of crashes and a split.
Riders are only given the same time as the stage winner if they crash in the final 3km.
The teams are fighting for position to protect their team leaders and to lead out their sprinters.
7km remaining from 167km
The crowds are huge but the riders are focused on the sprint finish.
LottoNL hit the front for van Poppel. No sign of Quick-Step yet.
Tony Martin leads for Katusha but they lack a likely stage winner.
Mechanical problem for Poels. He could lose time today.
5km remaining from 167km
Here comes EF for Modolo. But its chaos at the head of the peloton.
3km remaining from 167km
Attacks! Riders try to go clear in the finale to beat the sprinters.
A tight right turn lines out the peloton.
The sprint teams are hesitating.
1km remaining from 167km
Tosh Van der Sande attacks alone and has a gap.
Here comes Quick-Step for Viviani.
Stybar leads it into the final km.
They swing left into the finishing 600m.
EF lead it out.
Mareczko leads it out early but Viviani comes on the barriers!
Viviani wins the sprint!
Viviani seemed stuck behind after losing his lead out but he had the speed and skill to find a way through and past his rivals to win by several bike lengths.
Viviani was smart enough to jump on Mareczko's wheel as he came through and got a great lead out. He then opened up his after burners and won it well.
He naturally celebrates with his team staff and team mates.
Viviani beat Jakub Mareczko and Sam Bennett.
Rohan Dennis is confirmed as the new race leader after he took three seconds at the second intermediate sprint.
He took pink from Dumoulin.
Watching the replays of the sprint reveal just how smart and collected Viviani was. His track skills made a difference today.
This is the top ten on the stage:
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 03:51:20
2 Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia
3 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
5 Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
6 Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
8 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
9 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
10 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
This is the new GC:
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 04:03:21
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:00:01
3 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal 00:00:03
4 José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:13
5 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:17
6 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:19
7 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:21
8 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:22
9 Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:28
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
Viviani dedicated his win to his partner Elena Cecchini.
"This win is for Elena, she really believed in me when we talked last night and so this win is for her," Viviani said.
Viviani gets the cheers on the podium and then opens the prosecco in celebration.
Speaking briefly before pulling on the pink jersey, Rohan Dennis admitted that he was happy Viviani won the stage after he didn't sprint full gas in the intermediate sprint that gave Dennis pink.
Dennis pulls on the pink jersey on the podium and also celebrates.
He became the 23rd rider to wear all three Grand Tour leader's jerseys.
Viviani returns to the podium to take the ciclamino points jersey. He is with one of Michele Scarponi's young sons, who were invited to the Giro.
Michele Scarponi will be remembered when stage 11 passes through his birth place of Filottrano.
Dennis revealed on Italian television that he didn’t want the pressure of sprinting for the bonus seconds but didn’t want to let his teammates down.
“I have to thank the team. 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,” Dennis explained.
We have the first photos of the sprint finish and Viviani's celebrations.
Rohan Dennis said he was honoured to be in pink and complete his collection of Grand Tour leader's jerseys. But he kept his feet on the ground.
“Of course now I’d like to keep it but 19 more stages is a long way to go," he said.
"I’ve got a lot of things to learn before I think of pink and Rome. That’s a dream. I’ve got to be realistic and try to learn from guys like Dumoulin. But I’m going to enjoy this pink jersey, it’s an honour.”
Dennis thanks his BMC teammates and Viviani for not going full gas in the sprint.
“The team rode for me for the 30km to that intermediate sprint. Before they made sure that Campenaerts didn’t get up the road. They delivered me perfectly for the sprint and then it was about making sure I didn’t lose time in the finale. It was massive team work,” Dennis said on television.
"I think Viviani sprinted but he didn’t go full. It as good to see him get the stage win after, not gifting it to me but he was kind, lets be honest.”
Viviani was relieved to win after huge expectations on his shoulders.
"It wasn’t easy to win. I’m usually calm but it wasn’t easy to do well after a good start to season, then a stop, then starting again. I felt the pressure that I was the rider to beat," he said.
Viviani talk through the sprint as only a rider who was in the thick of it an.
“It was difficult to stay together in the finale, so I used the team to keep the speed high," he said.
"Then I got on Bennett’s wheel. The others hesitated but I knew somebody would do something and was ready."
"When Mareczko I got on him and then did my sprint. It was important to read it right.”
Here's the first photo of Rohan Dennis in pink via RCS Sport.
Dennis understandably had a big smile on the podium.
This is the sprint from another angle, showing how Viviani won it well.
To see other great photos from the stage, click here to read out full stage report and see our huge photo gallery.
The overall classification changed today with Rohan Dennis taking pink from Tom Dumoulin. However all the other GC contenders finished safely in the peloton.
Chris Froome 31st in Tel Aviv. He is 20th in the GC, 38 seconds down on Dennis.
His Team Sky teammate Wout Poels suffered a late flat on stage 2 and so lost 40 seconds and slipped to 1:31 down.
Froome spoke briefly before the stage start. click here to read our story.
Sunday’s 229km third stage is from Be’er Sheva to Eliat south through the Israel desert.
We can expect some attacks, a lunar landscape and perhaps some cross winds and echelons.
We'll have full live coverage yet again. Join us tomorrow.
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