Dennis in the pink as Viviani wins second stage

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Italian Elia Viviani, who won the second and third stages, said he had been impressed with the enthusiasm shown by Israelis for the Giro.

Bennett faded in the final fifty metres as Italy's Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac) surged through to take second place in the 229km stage from Be'er Sheva.

There followed two sprint stages through Israel, finishing in Tel Aviv and then Eilat before the whole shebang returned to its homeland for Monday's rest day ahead of Tuesday's fourth stage in Sicily.

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Four-time Tour de France victor Chris Froome, who bloodied his right knee and ripped his shorts and jersey in a training crash before Friday's opening leg, finished safely in the middle of the pack.

"I wasn't overly keen to do it but the team said we're doing it and they did an excellent job, they delivered me perfectly", said Dennis. "For me, Israel has already won this race, as it afforded hundreds of millions of TV spectators to see our lovely country, and feel the warmth of our people, bearing witness that Israel is a diverse, open, free and safe country".

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Three days of colour, controversy and, in all honesty, tame racing came to a close on the edge of the Red Sea on Sunday as the Giro d'Italia bid farewell to Israel.

Viviani, who took the sprinters' cyclamen points jersey with his stage win, simply said it hadn't been his objective.

Mullen is the best of the Irish on the overall general classification in 46th position, 58 seconds off the lead, while Bennett is 64th, 14 seconds behind his compatriot. From Cervinia, the Giro will move on May 27th to Rome for the 21 and last stage.

Israel Cycling Academy co-owner Sylvan Adams, a Canadian-Israeli cycling enthusiast who played a key role in bringing the Giro to Israel, said it was a dream come true.

"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".

Many in the country associated with organizing the Big Start Israel gave a sigh of relief as the riders crossed the finish line on Sunday, capping off the most complicated, expensive, and logistically challenging sporting event Israel has ever hosted, according to Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev.

It remains to be seen whether Froome is 100 per cent recovered from that crash. "This was a Giro d'Israel - a three-day tour around our special country".

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