Elia Viviani lived up to expectations to win the chaotic stage 2 sprint finish in Tel Aviv at the Giro d'Italia. The Italian lost his Quick-Step Floors lead-out but played it cool and came from behind. When Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina) jumped early, Viviani got on his wheel and then surged past him to win. Mareczko held on for second place, with Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) third.
"It wasn't easy to win. I'm usually calm but it wasn't easy to do well after a good start to season but then a stop, then starting again. I felt the pressure that I was the rider to beat," Viviani said.
"It was difficult to stay together in the finale, so I used the team to keep the speed high. 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."
Rohan Dennis (BMC) is the new race leader and pulled on the pink jersey after taking three precious bonus seconds by winning the second intermediate sprint. He finished in the peloton, with Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), who was happy to let the maglia rosa go. The Australian now leads the GIro d'Italia by one second over Dumoulin and three seconds to Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Fix All).
Dennis admitted that he really didn't want the pressure of going for the intermediate sprint but he was honoured to take he pink jersey.
"I have to thank the team. I didn't want to sprint today to be honest. I didn't want to because the guys would then have to ride. I wanted to leave the pressure on Sunweb but they said: 'No, we back you,' so I have thank them," Dennis said.
"Of course now I'd like to keep the pink jersey but 19 more stages is a long way to go. I've got a lot of things to learn before I start think of pink jerseys 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."
Sunday's 229km third stage is from Be’er Sheva to Eliat south through the Israel desert.
How it happened
The riders lined-up under a warm sun, happy to finally start road racing after arriving in Israel on Tuesday and riding just 9.7km on Friday's opening time trial stage.
During the 11.9km-neutralised section, riders were packed up close to the bumper of the race director's car, and the first attack came as soon as the flag dropped, and the race was on.
Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli) got away and was joined by Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Fix All) and Guy Niv (Israel Cycling Academy). The peloton let them go, but other riders changed their minds and lead the chase to produce gruppo compatto.
However, Ballerini went again and as joined by Lars Bak (Lotto Fix All). Niv tried to join them but had spent too much earlier.
Fortunately, the peloton eased after a crash in Acres and so Guillaume Boivin (Israel Cycling Academy) took the opportunity to jump across to create a three-rider break.
Ballerini won the first intermediate sprint as Viviani took fourth place in the bunch sprint to take eight points in the points competition.
The stage seemed set to follow a traditional path, but then BMC moved to the front and began to chase the break. The gap was initially three minutes, but it melted under the hot sun and was soon less than a minute. BMC really believed that Dennis could win the second sprint and take the pink jersey. Perhaps they had struck a deal with other teams to help them take the race lead in exchange for help later in this year's Giro d'Italia.
Bardiani-CSF take the early lead the mountain competition
The day's only categorised climb was held over the category 4 Zikhron Ya'Aqov, at the 91km mark (75km to go). The punchy ascent was vital because it offered the first mountain points and the winner would be assured the lead of the mountain classification at the Giro d'Italia, and wear the blue jersey during stage 3.
Due to BMC's intense chase, the breakaway of three riders just barely made it to the base of the climb ahead of the peloton. Behind Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF) jumped across to them and the four fought to be first to the summit.
Boivin launched his attack first and was swarmed by fans running and cheering behind him on the ascent. He gained a small lead on his breakaway rivals, but as he approached the top of the climb, his legs fatigued. Barbin kicked with a powerful sprint to cross the line first and take the glory.
It was a disappointment for Boivin, who punched his handlebars but it was a celebration for Barbin and his Italian team Bardiani-CSF, proud to take the first climber's jersey of the race with a one-point lead over Boivin and two points ahead of Ballerini.
Dennis wins bonus sprint and takes pink
As soon as Barbin eased up over the summit, BMC dragged the peloton to the remains of the break and prepared for their moment. The second intermediate sprint of the day was located just 14km later at the 105.3km mark in Caesarea.
The sprint offered a time bonuses of three seconds to the winner, and with only two seconds separating the top three in the overall classification, the maglia rosa was Dumoulin's to lose.
Dennis and Campenaerts, who placed second and third, respectively in the stage 1 time trial, started the day at two seconds behind stage winner Dumoulin. The Dutchman hinted that he would not defend the race lead so early into the three-week tour.
As BMC lead the peloton at high speed, Dumoulin stayed hidden in the peloton as he tried to surrender his maglia rosa.
BMC did a perfect lead-out for Dennis on the rising finish.
Campenaerts opened a sprint from the outside of the peloton, but he was no match for Dennis. The Australian took a straight line along the barriers, and so took the three seconds bonus. Viviani came up too late, and so Dennis became virtual maglia rosa by one second ahead of Dumoulin and three seconds ahead of Campenaerts.
The peloton eased after the climb and the sprint as they faced a head/side wind along the coast road to Tel Aviv. However, Boivin wanted to show off the Israel Cycling Academy jersey and attacked alone. The peloton was happy to let him go and let him hang off the front before the sprint teams took over in the high-speed sprint finish.
The sprint finale began with 20km to go, as the teams lined up to protect their overall leaders and ride for their sprinters. No one team had the strength or desire to lead-out the sprint, with the series of tight city-centre turns shuffling the front of the pack.
LottoNL-Jumbo tried to line out the peloton and so did Katusha but other teams surged ahead as they fought for position.
Wout Poels (Team Sky) suffered a mechanical and lost 40 seconds. However, all the other GC riders managed to avoid the chaos and finish together.
The Quick-Step Floors team finally emerged after the final left turn with 600 metres to go but Viviani was on their wheel, causing them to panic and sit up. He had used his track instinct in the complex finale and opted to follow Sam Bennett. When Mareczko opened up along the barriers, he jumped on his wheel to get the perfect lead-out to his second career victory at the Giro d'Italia.
He also took the cyclamen points jersey and made himself the favourite for the expected second sprint at the end of Sunday's 229km third stage from Be'er Sheva to Eliat through the Israel desert.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors||3:51:20|
|2||Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|3||Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|5||Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|6||Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|7||Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data||Row 6 - Cell 2|
|8||Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|9||Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin||Row 8 - Cell 2|
|10||Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani CSF||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|14||Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin||Row 13 - Cell 2|
|15||Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Alex Dowsett (GBr) Katusha-Alpecin||Row 15 - Cell 2|
|17||Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha-Alpecin||Row 17 - Cell 2|
|19||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb||Row 18 - Cell 2|
|20||Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy||Row 19 - Cell 2|
|21||Georg Preidler (Aut) Groupama-FDJ||Row 20 - Cell 2|
|22||Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb||Row 21 - Cell 2|
|23||José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin||Row 22 - Cell 2|
|24||Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||Row 23 - Cell 2|
|25||Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky||Row 24 - Cell 2|
|26||Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe||Row 25 - Cell 2|
|27||Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe||Row 26 - Cell 2|
|28||Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott||Row 27 - Cell 2|
|29||Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida||Row 28 - Cell 2|
|30||Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||Row 29 - Cell 2|
|31||Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky||Row 30 - Cell 2|
|32||Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||Row 31 - Cell 2|
|33||Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||Row 32 - Cell 2|
|34||Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy||Row 34 - Cell 2|
|36||Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team||Row 35 - Cell 2|
|37||George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 36 - Cell 2|
|38||Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team||Row 37 - Cell 2|
|39||Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Fix All||Row 38 - Cell 2|
|40||Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||Row 39 - Cell 2|
|41||Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||Row 40 - Cell 2|
|42||Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Fix All||Row 41 - Cell 2|
|43||Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||Row 42 - Cell 2|
|44||Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||Row 43 - Cell 2|
|45||Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||Row 44 - Cell 2|
|46||Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin||Row 45 - Cell 2|
|47||Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||Row 46 - Cell 2|
|48||Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 47 - Cell 2|
|49||Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team||Row 48 - Cell 2|
|50||Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 49 - Cell 2|
|51||Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||Row 50 - Cell 2|
|52||Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors||Row 51 - Cell 2|
|53||Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Data||Row 52 - Cell 2|
|54||Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team||Row 53 - Cell 2|
|55||Andrea Guardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF||Row 54 - Cell 2|
|56||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Fix All||Row 55 - Cell 2|
|57||Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky||Row 56 - Cell 2|
|58||Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe||Row 57 - Cell 2|
|59||Ben O'Connor (Aus) Dimension Data||Row 58 - Cell 2|
|60||Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 59 - Cell 2|
|61||Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott||Row 60 - Cell 2|
|62||Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||Row 61 - Cell 2|
|63||Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors||Row 62 - Cell 2|
|64||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott||Row 63 - Cell 2|
|65||Sam Bewley (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott||Row 64 - Cell 2|
|66||Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team||Row 65 - Cell 2|
|67||Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF||Row 66 - Cell 2|
|68||Davide Villella (Ita) Astana Pro Team||Row 67 - Cell 2|
|69||Manuele Boaro (Ita) Bahrain-Merida||Row 68 - Cell 2|
|70||Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo||Row 69 - Cell 2|
|71||Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team||Row 70 - Cell 2|
|72||Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 71 - Cell 2|
|73||Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||Row 72 - Cell 2|
|74||Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team||Row 73 - Cell 2|
|75||Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 74 - Cell 2|
|76||Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar Team||Row 75 - Cell 2|
|77||Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates||Row 76 - Cell 2|
|78||Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo||Row 77 - Cell 2|
|79||Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team||Row 78 - Cell 2|
|80||Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data||Row 79 - Cell 2|
|81||François Bidard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 80 - Cell 2|
|82||Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||Row 81 - Cell 2|
|83||Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||Row 82 - Cell 2|
|84||Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSF||Row 83 - Cell 2|
|85||Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||Row 84 - Cell 2|
|86||Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||Row 85 - Cell 2|
|87||Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team||Row 86 - Cell 2|
|88||Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team||Row 87 - Cell 2|
|89||Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team||Row 88 - Cell 2|
|90||Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia||Row 89 - Cell 2|
|91||Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb||Row 90 - Cell 2|
|92||Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott||Row 91 - Cell 2|
|93||Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick-Step Floors||Row 92 - Cell 2|
|94||Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data||Row 93 - Cell 2|
|95||Joe Dombrowski (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||Row 94 - Cell 2|
|96||Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 95 - Cell 2|
|97||Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||Row 96 - Cell 2|
|98||Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||Row 97 - Cell 2|
|99||Igor Anton (Spa) Dimension Data||Row 98 - Cell 2|
|100||Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates||Row 99 - Cell 2|
|101||David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky||Row 100 - Cell 2|
|102||Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Fix All||Row 101 - Cell 2|
|103||Eros Capecchi (Ita) Quick-Step Floors||Row 102 - Cell 2|
|104||Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 103 - Cell 2|
|105||Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy||Row 104 - Cell 2|
|106||Koen Bouwmam (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 105 - Cell 2|
|107||Victor De La Parte (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 106 - Cell 2|
|108||Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors||Row 107 - Cell 2|
|109||Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension Data||Row 108 - Cell 2|
|110||Nathan Brown (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||Row 109 - Cell 2|
|111||Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-Segafredo||Row 110 - Cell 2|
|112||Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha-Alpecin||Row 111 - Cell 2|
|113||Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing Team||Row 112 - Cell 2|
|114||Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Team Sunweb||Row 113 - Cell 2|
|115||Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 114 - Cell 2|
|116||Lars Bak (Den) Lotto Fix All||Row 115 - Cell 2|
|117||Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 116 - Cell 2|
|118||Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-Segafredo||Row 117 - Cell 2|
|119||Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data||Row 118 - Cell 2|
|120||Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek-Segafredo||Row 119 - Cell 2|
|121||Manuel Senni (Ita) Bardiani CSF||Row 120 - Cell 2|
|122||Guy Niv (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy||Row 121 - Cell 2|
|123||Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF||Row 122 - Cell 2|
|124||Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||Row 123 - Cell 2|
|125||Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team Emirates||Row 124 - Cell 2|
|126||Marco Coledan (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia||Row 125 - Cell 2|
|127||Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step Floors||Row 126 - Cell 2|
|128||Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Sunweb||Row 127 - Cell 2|
|129||Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia||Row 128 - Cell 2|
|130||Ruben Plaza (Spa) Israel Cycling Academy||Row 129 - Cell 2|
|131||Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo||Row 130 - Cell 2|
|132||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors||0:00:25|
|133||Liam Bertazzo (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia||0:00:30|
|134||Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||0:00:38|
|135||Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky||0:00:40|
|136||Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Fix All||0:00:45|
|137||Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky||0:00:58|
|138||Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida||0:01:02|
|139||Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||Row 138 - Cell 2|
|140||Jérémy Roy (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||0:01:05|
|141||William Bonnet (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||Row 140 - Cell 2|
|142||Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin||Row 141 - Cell 2|
|143||Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 142 - Cell 2|
|144||Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy||Row 143 - Cell 2|
|145||Svein Tuft (Can) Mitchelton-Scott||Row 144 - Cell 2|
|146||Chad Haga (USA) Team Sunweb||Row 145 - Cell 2|
|147||Domen Novak (Slo) Bahrain-Merida||Row 146 - Cell 2|
|148||Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Fix All||Row 147 - Cell 2|
|149||Alex Turrin (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia||Row 148 - Cell 2|
|150||Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF||Row 149 - Cell 2|
|151||Simone Andreetta (Ita) Bardiani CSF||Row 150 - Cell 2|
|152||Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 151 - Cell 2|
|153||Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar Team||Row 152 - Cell 2|
|154||Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team||Row 153 - Cell 2|
|155||Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team||Row 154 - Cell 2|
|156||Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia||Row 155 - Cell 2|
|157||Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 156 - Cell 2|
|158||Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 157 - Cell 2|
|159||Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida||Row 158 - Cell 2|
|160||Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott||Row 159 - Cell 2|
|161||Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team Sunweb||Row 160 - Cell 2|
|162||Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||Row 161 - Cell 2|
|163||Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Fix All||Row 162 - Cell 2|
|164||Steve Morabito (Swi) Groupama-FDJ||Row 163 - Cell 2|
|165||Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ||Row 164 - Cell 2|
|166||Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy||Row 165 - Cell 2|
|167||Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky||0:01:17|
|168||Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team||0:01:25|
|169||Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team||0:01:33|
|170||Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Sunweb||Row 169 - Cell 2|
|171||Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||0:01:54|
|172||Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott||0:02:18|
|173||Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia||0:03:25|
|174||Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe||Row 173 - Cell 2|
|175||Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Team Sky||0:03:27|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result||Header Cell - Column 3|
|1||Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||10||pts|
|2||Lars Bak (Den) Lotto Fix All||6||Row 1 - Cell 3|