Buongiorno and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia. The final stage in Israel is from Be'er Sheva to Eilat and covers 229km.
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Welcome to our full live coverage of the third stage of the Corsa Rosa.
The stage will begin in 30 minutes or so.
The riders are currently signing on and preparing for a long hot say in the Israel desert.
In theory the 229km is another chance for the sprinters.
We can expect Elia Viviani and his Quick-Step Floors to target a second victory but he will face serious competition from the other sprinters in the Giro peloton.
Rohan Dennis (BMC) will start stage 3 wearing the pink jersey after taking a three-second time bonus at an intermediate sprint during stage 2.
Dennis rode to the sign on a special pink bike but will race on his usual red BMC bike.
Despite some drops of rain at the start, riders have been applying suncream for a hot day in the desert.
Temperatures up to 40C have been forecast with a tail wind blowing the riders south to Eilat.
The stage is not flat but the climbs are gradual and so should not be a problem. There are two intermediate sprints were points and 3-2-1 bonus seconds will be awarded.
They come after just 45km and 71km and so should make for an interesting first two hours of racing.
The riders are concerned about the cross winds in the desert and possible splits and echelons.
Chris Froome suggested the Giro d'Italia is a Grand Tour of Classics and he is right.
Today could be chaotic, especially early on when the winds are more cross winds than tail winds.
The riders have lined up, with the leader jerseys on the front. They are now riding the 5.3km neutralised section to the official start.
Chris Froome has again put himself at the front to avoid any problems.
The crowds are again huge along the roadside, with everyone cheering the riders.
Rohan Dennis (BMC) wears the pink jersey today.
The race director's car slows as km 0 approaches. The flag is about to drop on stage 3.
And we have the first attack. Three riders have jumped away.
225km remaining from 229km
The peloton seems to have let them go for now.
The trio are Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF),Marco FRapporti (Androni Giocattoli) and Guillaume Boivin (Israel Cycling Academy).
The peloton seems happy to let them go clear. Several riders have already stopped to take a natural break.
The riders are already in the exposed desert as they head south from Be'er Sheva towards Eilat.
The trio up front now lead by 2:00.
223km remaining from 229km
The peloton is rolling along allowing the break to gain more time.
We seem to have the early break of the day.
218km remaining from 229km
The crowds have been huge so far. However were expecting the camels to dominate from the roadside today.
The riders have just past a sign saying: Beware of the camels.
216km remaining from 229km
The peloton is going slow that the gap to the break is up to 5:30.
213km remaining from 229km
The BMC has moved to the front of the peloton to keep the break under control and defend Dennis' pink jersey.
Barbin is in the break to try to take maximum points on the only climb of the stage: the cat 4 climb at Farran river after 127km.
He was first to the top of the only climb on stage 2 and so wears the blue jersey.
He is also currently virtually pink jersey as the break leads the peloton by 6:50.
Stage 2 Elia Viviani leads the points competition and so wears the ciclamino jersey.
Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) leads the best young rider competition and so wears the white jersey.
200km remaining from 229km
The riders face 200km in the desert. BMC has upped the pace now, lining out the peloton.
Thee wind is not a problem for now but a north, northeast wind at 35km/h is expected for the finish in Eliat.
Sergio Henao (Sky) has a flat but quickly gets a wheel change and is away.
198km remaining from 229km
BMC has placed 4 riders on the front to chase the break.
The wind is blowing from their left now, and so the riders are tucked on the wheels, almost in echelons.
With 198km to race, the teams are perhaps scared to kick off the attacks so early.
195km remaining from 229km
Rohan Denis is tucked in behind his teammates. Other squads are also riding together to protect their sprinters and team leaders.
Thanks to BMC's work the gap is down to 5:15.
Upfront the trio are sharing the work on the front, taking long turns on the front as the others try to recover in the slipstream.
This was the sign the riders saw along the road.
The terrain is hillier now as the riders enter the Negev desert.
The break is approaching the first intermediate sprint.
They will sweep up the 3-2-1 bonus seconds but in what order? Will they sprint?
183km remaining from 229km
Here we go. Boivin kicks!
He gets a gap and so is first over the sprint line. Frapporti and Barbin cruise past the crowd at the intermediate sprint.
The peloton is some 3km behind the break out on the road.
BMC continue to set the pace, gradually pulling the break back.
The gap is down to below 5 minutes now.
Quick-Step move up to lead out Viviani for the sprint. He's targeting the points jersey and so even 4th place is important.
Viviani gets a good lead out but is challenged by Sacha Modolo.
Viviani squeezed Modolo against the barriers, closing the door on the EF rider to make sure he hit the line first.
Viviani picks up eight points and so strengthen's his lead in the points competition.
178km remaining from 229km
The winner of each stage scores 50 points, with lesser points awarded to 15 riders on flat stages.
The break passes a herd of camels. Google explains that a group of camels can also be described as a caravan, flock or train.
The Mitchelton-Scott team took this photo of the train of camels.
The camels seem to enjoy seeing the peloton cruise past.
172km remaining from 229km
After a steady 58km of racing, the BMC tempo is gradually closing the gap on the three-rider break.
The gap is down to 4:00.
The desert roads are sparking a few punctures. Selig of Bora is latest but he gets a fast wheel change and is chasing the peloton.
Team Sky is riding around Chris Froome, protecting their team leader from the wind and possible crashes.
Froome appears to have recovered from his TT recon crash. He finished in the peloton in Tel Aviv and so remains 20th overall, 38 seconds down on Dennis.
The other overall contenders are tucked safely in the peloton. From the CN blimp we can see Fabio Aru close to the front, while Thibaut Pinot of Groupama is on the wheels.
165km remaining from 229km
The peloton is in the gradual climb to the high point of the stage at Mltzpe Ramon in the heart of the Negev desert.
The second sprint is at the summit, which is at an altitude of 840 metres, giving a view across the desert.
The peloton is cruising at 35km/h.
The peloton is cruising at 35km/h.
161km remaining from 229km
Viviani has dropped back but is working his way up to the peloton again.
It will be interesting to see if he sprints again for the lesser points at the intermediate sprint in 10km or so.
This is the first really climb of the 2018 Giro d'Italia. The riders will actually enjoy stretching their legs and getting into the daily racing routine.
The BMC team continues to lead the peloton and protect Dennis' pink jersey.
This TV screen grab shows the landscape out in the Negev desert.
To see the landscape of stage 2, click here to watch the highlights of the stage to Tel Aviv.
153km remaining from 229km
The break is 1km from the intermediate sprint.
The trio in the break are watching each other.
Boivin goes again! The others let him take maximum points and the 3 bonus seconds.
148km remaining from 229km
The trio are no on the descent as the peloton reaches the intermediate sprint.
The trio's lead is back above 5:00.
Quick-Step are again riding for Viviani.
He gets a lead out and collects six points again.
Ryan Gibbons of Dimension Data tries to take on Viviani but is a close second.
He was seventh in the sprint in Tel Aviv yesterday and is a rider to watch for today's finish in Eilat.
The riders are now entering the feed zone and grabbing their musette. It's lunch time.
Before eating, the peloton has to tackle the fast descent from Mitzpe Ramon.
142km remaining from 229km
The riders still face 142km in the saddle to reach Eilat.
The barren landscape continues with the race passing near the Ramon crater.
The roads are exposed as thy cut through the rocky, moon-like landscape.
The only spectators are mountain bikers.
The only spectators are mountain bikers.
128km remaining from 229km
The trio in the break toil on in the Negev desert, taking turns on the front.
Their lead is still at 5:30 as the peloton lets them hang out front.
This TV grab shows the expanse of the desert and the Ramon Crater.
For now there is little wind in the desert. However our reporters have arrived at the finish in Eilat and have warned the wind is stronger there, even if it is largely a tail wind.
124km remaining from 229km
The break has already been away for over 100km now.
As we wait or the sprinters' teams to up the chase the of the break it isa perfect time to catch up with riders who impressed yesterday.
Click here to read what Elia Viviani said about his win in Tel Aviv.
The peloton is lined out now after the descent.
There is a slight wind blowing from the rider's right and so the BMC riders form a slight echelon.
Yesterday Tom Dumoulin started the stage in the pink jersey after winning Friday's TT. However he seemed happy to let Rohan Dennis take it and so pick up control of the race.
Click here to read what Dumoulin said after stage 2.
105km remaining from 229km
The fast descent from the Ramon Crater area, bringing the gap down to 4:00.
As we're into the second half of the 229km stage, the BMC team might soon call for the sprinters' teams to step up and start helping with the chase.
102km remaining from 229km
It's time for the only climb of the day.
Frapporti attacks first with 1.5km to go.
The climb is only 1.2km but kicks up.
Frapporti reaches the summit first and takes three points.
Barbin is second and takes 2 points ahead of Boivin, that means Barbin has a total of 5 points and keeps the blue climber's jersey.
Did the Italians stitch-up and work over Boivin up there by Frapport attacking and Barbin sitting on?
If so it worked. Giving Barbin and Bardiani-CSF the jersey until the return to Italy.
98km remaining from 229km
The peloton goes through the intermediate sprint some 4 minutes back.
Froome takes advantage of a slight descent to move up near the front of the peloton.
Dumoulin is also moving up after a visit to the team car.
BMC were disappointed to miss out on the stage victory in the opening TT but bounced back in style yesterday by attacking the race and ensuring Dennis won the intermediate sprint to get the bonus seconds and the leader's pink jersey.
Alasdair Fotheringham spoke to BMC DS Max Sciandri this morning about their successfil tactic.
“That was a pretty good tactic we played. In the morning, people weren’t convinced, because losing the prologue, I saw the faces of the team staff go down," Sciandri explained.
"But Dumoulin’s a champion, a Giro winner, you name it. But I was like, we can’t let this go down like that, we have a chance, we have a good team. Rohan wasn’t so confident about it, but he rolled into that role."
"Then we went ok, let’s close the gap on the break, let’s go for the sprint and then it just kind of pulled off.”
Sciandri is keen to defend the jersey.
“Holding the jersey is a good option, but it’s unknown territory. It’s a relatively easy stage, but we have to see, it’s going to be very hot, 35 degrees, there could be wind, so we have to be on the alert side,” he said.
"For me, it’s the first time I’ve defended a maglia rosa as a director, as a rider, I did, back with Gilberto Simoni in 2003.”
85km remaining from 229km
As expected the sprinters' teams have helped BMC with the chase.
Wilier Triestina have sent a rider to work on the front, as have Quick-Step.
The peloton dropped down the climb of the stage into valley roads.
81km remaining from 229km
The chase is on now but the trio in the break have also upped the pace.
79km remaining from 229km
The peloton appears a little worried about the winds now.
Richard Carapz of Movistar is the latest to suffer a flat.
There have been 20 or so so far today on the desert roads.
76km remaining from 229km
The peloton is packed tight now as the speed goes up.
We're close to an echelon forming.
Ben king of Dimension Data is the latest to flat.
There is lots of stones and flints on the edges of the road in the desert.
69km remaining from 229km
The trio up front are still working together but their lead is down to 2:00 now.
Gianni Savio gives Frapport some final tactical advice from the Androni team car.
65km remaining from 229km
The teams are all pushing and fighting for position at the head of the peloton. The speed is up.
The gap is down to 1:40.
We're definitely in the finale of the stage now.
56km remaining from 229km
Elia Viviani is off the back and in the team cars on a descent.
It shouldn't be a problem but Capecchi is helping him get back into the peloton.
The speed is up now.
The peloton is lined out ahead of them.
Viviani is back in the peloton but needs to get to the front.
The break is only 40 seconds ahead now and so the peloton has eased off the chase.
46km remaining from 229km
The peloton has eased and so the gap is back up to 1:30.
42km remaining from 229km
The trio of Guillaume Boivin (Israel Cycling Academy), Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF) are still out front but are tired after being on the attack from the very start of the stage.
37km remaining from 229km
Giuseppe Fonzi (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) is back on the front, setting the tempo in the peloton.
He is riding for his sprinter Jakub 'Kuba' Mareczko, who finished second in Tel Aviv behind Viviani after starting his sprint early.
This is the second longest stage of the 2018 Giro and comes on the last day in Israel.
On Monday the riders and race caravan will fly to Catania for three stages in Sicily.
The riders in the break take a final bidon from their team cars before the bar closes with 20km to go.
30km remaining from 229km
The gap is back down to 1:00. The sprinter's tams are preparing for the finale.
They all know there is a series of 11 (eleven) roundabout in the final 6km today.
The speed is up now and so several riders have been distanced. including Victor Campenaerts of Lotto, who is third overall, just 3 seconds from the race lead.
A teammate is trying to help him get back into the peloton.
The team cars were held back with a barage from the UCI race officials.
The trio up front are tired now. They've been up the road for over 200km.
20km remaining from 229km
The bar is closed. no more feeding from the team cars now.
It's time for a fast sprint finish, pushed by a stiff tailwind.
Viviani talked about the finish of the stage before rolling out.
"Lets hope it’s another sprint today. The finish could be less chaotic but there are ten roundabouts in the final 6km," he said.
"There will be a fight for position before that but then there’s the dead turn in the finale kilometre. There are cobbles too.”
"We’ll join up before the first roundabout and then stay together. After that it’ll be easier to control things. If that doesn’t work, then we’ll opt for plan B, like yesterday.”
15km remaining from 229km
Every team is fighting for position now. This is going to be a fast finish to a long ride through the desert.
The wind could also be a factor in the final kms.
The trio is now racing flat out to try to stay away. They're trying to surprise the peloton but behind they're also flying thanks to a tail wind on the approach to Eilat.
Behind riders are spat out the back due to the high speed, including some sprinters.
It seems Bonifazio of Bahrain is off the back. He was fourth yesterday but he has little chance today.
10km remaining from 229km
10km to go!
A check point squeezes the peloton and lines them out. Speed bumps are an extra hazard.
Team Sky try to move up Froome and keep him safe.
7km remaining from 229km
The sprinters are about to gather before the roundabouts start to come thick and fast.
5km remaining from 229km
The break has been caught after 224km off the front.
Stybar is on the front as Viviani wanted. The peloton is lined out.
EF and Lotto are trying to stay on Quick-Step's wheel.
The peloton is lined out with some gaps in the line.
Morkov seems to be Viviani's lead out man today.
Stybar and Maximilian Schachmann are working for Quick-Step Floors on the front.
227km remaining from 229km
Quick-Step lead through the U turn.
Here comes Bora for Bennett.
This finish is all about positioning.
Viviani has dropped back to take a wheel.
Lotto lead out.
Sam Bennett jumped first and moved Viviani over to the barriers. But the Italian fought for his space and still had the power to kick again and win.
Viviani does not too bothered. He's happy to celebrate with his teammates.
Bennett's change of line could see him punished by race judges.
He didn't slam the door closed on Viviani and so the Italian used his shoulder to make contact and then kicked again to win.
Viviani punched the air in celebration of his second consecutive stage win.
Sacha Modolo of EF was second and Sam Bennet third.
This is the provisional top ten on the stage:
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 05:02:09
2 Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
3 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia
5 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
6 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
8 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
9 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
10 José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin
Viviani won the stage but still spoke his mind about Bennett’s move across the road.
“I won and so don’t want to start a polemic. He moved big time. We made contact but I went through,” he said.
“He went on the left and so I went on the right but then moved across the road.”
Here is the first image of Viviani winning the sprint in Eilat
He looks happy.
Rohan Dennis remains the race leader and will take the pink jersey to Italy tomorrow.
"It was a very long day and a little stressful with the wind," Dennis said.
"Nothing much happened till the last 10km, there were some split but the team did a great job and kept me up front."
Viviani is happy to win again and step on the podium.
He takes a well-deserved sip on the prosecco and throws his flowers to the crowd.
Next up is Rohan Dennis to pull on the pink jersey again.
This is the new general classification after stage 3.
Victor Campenaerts lost contact in the finale and slipped out of the top ten.
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 09:05:30
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:00:01
3 José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:13
4 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:17
5 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:19
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:21
7 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:22
8 Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:28
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:28
10 Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:29
Dennis will take the maglia rosa with him to Sicily on Monday after the three opening stages in Israel.
The racing continues on Tuesday with a 198km stage to Caltagirone.
Dennis is happy to keep the pink jersey for the transfer to Italy.
"I think there’ll be a little bit more stress but it’s be nice to take pink to Italy, it's the first time I’ve kept it more than one day," he said.
The riders will sleep in Eilat tonight but the team mechanics have just two hours to pack up the race bikes. They will be flown to Sicily tonight.
This photo shows how Viviani came through to win the sprint. Bennett moved back to the centre of the road after closing Viviani close to the barriers.
Dennis also opened the prosecco to celebrate holding the pink jersey for another day.
The riders are talking about the fast finale in the desert, the tail wind and slight down hill roads meant the peloton touched close to 80km/h.
Laurens ten Dam of Team Sunweb tweeted: I think I never did such a fast flat final ever. By moments scary. Lots of adrenaline flowing!
To see more great photos from the stage, click here for our full stage report and photo gallery.
Chris Froome spoke briefly in Eilat after finishing safely in the peloton.
"It was quite a relaxed start but it wound up to be quite a stressful final. Obviously with the tailwind it was really high speed and quite dangerous racing," he said via his team's website.
“It was a big fight coming into the final but the guys did a great job keeping me up front. Now I’m just looking forward to a rest/travel day tomorrow before we head to Sicily and start some proper climbing again.”
This is Chris Froome during stage 3.
To understand the full flow of the stage, scroll back down through this live coverage.
Check out our full stage report and watch out for further interview stories and news from Eilat.
The riders travel from Israel to Sicily tomorrow during the first rest day.
We'll be back on Tuesday with full live coverage of stage 4 from Catania to Caltagirone. It is a rolling 198km of racing and so great to follow.
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