Tue, May 08, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Elia Viviani sprints to back-to-back victories

AP, EILAT, Israel

The peloton rides in the third stage of the 101st Giro d’Italia from Beer-Sheva to Eilat, Israel, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Elia Viviani on Sunday won the third stage of the 101st Giro d’Italia for his second sprint victory in as many days as the race bid farewell to its historic start in Israel.

The Italian finished the lengthy 229km route through Israel’s Negev Desert down to its southern tip of Eilat along the Red Sea in just over five hours.

Viviani edged fellow Italian Sacha Modolo of EF Education First–Drapac p/b Cannondale at the finish line and pumped his fist in triumph in a near repeat of his sprint victory in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

“The pressure was off after yesterday’s win, but the final straight was good for me,” Viviani said.

The repeat victory helped solidify his reputation as one of the world’s top sprinters.

“To be honest I always raced without thinking about my competitors,” said Viviani, who won a track gold medal at the 2016 Olympics and rides for Quick-Step Floors. “I’ve got the best lead-out team for the sprints, so I don’t really care who I am up against.”

Australian Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing Team kept the maglia rosa that he wrestled away from defending champion Tom Dumoulin on Saturday.

The Dutch Team Sunweb rider remained in second place overall as Jose Goncalves of Team Katusha-Alpecin moved into third.

Four-time Tour de France winner 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 peloton.

He was 19th, 38 seconds behind the leader.

Sunday’s route was the second longest of the 21-stage race and wrapped up the three-day start in Israel, the first time a Grand Tour has been held outside of Europe.

The race now transfers to Italy and the island of Sicily. The Giro ends in Rome on May 27.

The Giro has been warmly embraced in Israel.

While there were fewer spectators on Sunday due to the sparsely populated southern Negev Desert than the two previous stages, the riders were still cheered on by locals banging drums and strumming guitars.

They encountered Israeli flag-waving fans and spectators on horseback wearing the maglia rosa along the way, and even passed a group of goat herders.

Dennis said the ride through the desert was not as hot as originally feared and that strong winds were the main obstacle.

He praised the enthusiasm of the Israeli fans he encountered over the three days.

“They took to the race really well and supported us like they were a really big cycling country, which was really nice,” Dennis said.

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