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Summary

  1. Elia Viviani sprints to victory on stage three
  2. Rohan Dennis retains race lead
  3. Chris Froome and Simon Yates safe in peloton
  4. Route took the riders from Be'er Sheva to Eilat (229km)

Live Reporting

By Peter Scrivener

All times stated are UK

See you on Tuesday

So that's enough from me today. The race report is taking shape and will contain the results and standings.

The Tour de Yorkshire is reaching an enthralling conclusion. Be sure to follow that here.

Thanks for your company today. I'll be back on Tuesday for stage four in Sicily. I'd love it if you were with me.

Giro d'Italia stage four profile
Giro d'Italia

Froome and Yates home safely

British hopes Chris Froome and Simon Yates are also nice and safe in the peloton as they cross the line to tick off another stage.

Bigger and tougher tests to come for those two when the race resumes on Tuesday.

Monday is a rest day to allow everyone to transfer to Sicily.

Dennis stays in pink

So, back-to-back stage wins for Elia Viviani and he takes his third career victory at the Giro d'Italia.

Sacha Modolo ended up sneaking past Sam Bennett to take second.

And all that means Rohan Dennis retains the race leader's pink jersey after finishing safely in the peloton.

Viviani almost into barriers

Wow that was a scary sprint.

Sam Bennett came off the final corner in the lead, with Elia Viviani right on his wheel and as the Italian veered to his right to get by, Bennett moved over and almost put the Italian into the barriers.

Viviani kept his nerve though to keep his pace up and won by a bike length.

Viviani wins in Eilat

Elia Viviani wins stage three of the Giro d'Italia.

Final kilo

The pace gets knocked off a bit as the peloton does a huge u-turn round a roundabout. And that allows Bora-Hansgrohe to get to the front. But Quick-Step say no to that and step on the gas.

Into the final kilo we go...

Bennett v Viviani?

Sam Bennett's Bora-Hansgrohe team is bringing him forward but Quick-Step are continuing to dictate this sprint.

Elia Viviani in a perfect spot but there's still 2.5km remaining and he won't want his team to run out of riders too early.

Final 5km

The break was finally pulled back with 6km remaining. The first roundabout forced a bit of a selection as the peloton gets more and more strung out.

Simon Yates is up near the front. He won't be chasing the stage win but great to see the Briton up there.

Final 7km

Lotto Jumbo have taken over the pacing duties of the peloton. They are trying to set up Danny van Poppel.

Chris Froome is up near the front, keeping nice and safe with two Team Sky team-mates in front of him and two behind.

And then Quick-Step Floors take over - Elia Viviani's team. Heading into the final 7km. There are 10 roundabouts coming up...

Peloton travelling at 40mph

One final mention then for our intrepid trio that went clear more than 200km ago.

Guillaume Boivin has done the Israel Cycling Academy proud over the last couple of days and he has probably made a couple of friends in Marco Frapporti and Enrico Barbin.

The three of them are still battling to stay clear but their lead is down to 30 seconds with 10km remaining.

And that is because the peloton is taking full advantage of a tailwind and is hurtling along at 71km/h towards Eilat.

Lead-out trains forming

The lead-out trains are formed. Katusha-Alpecin are right up the middle. Chris Froome and Team Sky are on the right. Simon Yates and Mitchelton-Scott are towards the left.

All the General Classification riders are trying to stay up near the front - they don't want to get caught behind crashes at this stage.

But the sprinters want their fun and I fully expect them to have it.

Just 15km to go.

A technical finish?

So, how's the run-in to the finish looking?

There are three roundabouts for the riders to negotiate in the final 3km or so and a tight corner in the final kilo.

So the lead-out trains will, as always, need to be cautious but fighting hard to be in the right position.

It's perhaps not quite as tight and twisty as Tel Aviv on Saturday though.

They are into the final 20km and the trio out front are just 55 seconds clear. They will soon be hoovered up.

Will anyone stop Viviani?

All eyes are on Elia Viviani - the Italian is clearly the best sprinter in the race and has won seven stages this year already, more than any other sprinter.

Could the Irishman Sam Bennett stop him? The Bora-Hansgrohe rider said he would be surfing other lead-out trains on Saturday. That tactic did not work for him - will his team throw more at today's sprint?

Just 30km remaining and the lead is just over one minute.

Break going back out

There is little happening out on the road as the riders enter the final 40km into Eilat.

The three out front have been allowed a little more leash and are now approaching two minutes clear again.

Elia Viviani had a brief scare, dropping out the back of the peloton but he used a downhill section to speed back on.

Giro d'Italia races down a road through the desert
Getty Images

Pacy peloton chops lead

Out on the road, the pace is on in the peloton. There are just 60km of today's stage remaining.

The flags billowing in the wind at the side of the road suggests there is a bit of a crosswind and that has the power to decimate the main bunch.

Such is the peloton's pace - none of the riders wants to be near the back - it has chopped two minutes off the advantage previously enjoyed by the three out front.

They are now just 80 seconds clear.

Riding through the Negev desert
Getty Images

I didn't want to go for it - Dennis

Rohan Dennis is now a member of an elite group of just four active riders to have worn the leader's jersey on all three Grand Tours.

Yet the BMC Racing rider, who emulated the feats of Mark Cavendish, Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru, "wasn't keen on the idea of going for it on bonus seconds".

However, the Australian's team told him: "Look, we're doing it."

Dennis added: "I had thought of attacking; I was surfing around the peloton, asking a few other riders. 'are you going to sprint?' Tom Dumoulin said he was not too bothered, Victor Campanaerts (Lotto-Fix All) was because he'd been attacking in the first 40 kilometres and went for it again in the last part.

"But I backed myself in a sprint against the GC guys, I knew I was fairly quick, and the team backed me in that decision."

"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, let's be honest."

Rohan Dennis (pink) and Elia Viviani
Getty Images
Dennis (left) presumably thanking Viviani for letting him take the pink jersey

Dennis pretty in pink

That race for the overall lead was fascinating on stage two.

Victor Campenaerts of the Lotto-Fix All team had ambitions to get in the break - he started the day two seconds down on Tom Dumoulin like Rohan Dennis - but his attacks were repeatedly shut down by the BMC Racing team who had their own plan to put their man in pink.

And the aggressive racing finally paid off, with the Australian picking up three bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint to become just the 21st rider to wear the race leader's jersey in all three Grand Tours.

Pressure off - Viviani

A bunch sprint is expected in Eilat and that means Elia Viviani will be hunting out his second victory of the race.

After winning in Tel Aviv on Saturday, the Italian Quick-Step Floors rider said: "When you take a stage win this early in the Giro, it takes away about 80% of the pressure. It's really important to get off on the right foot."

He also picked up points in the intermediate sprints to take control of that classification, although conceded he was wary of the race for the overall lead, which BMC's Rohan Dennis was fighting for.

"I wanted some points, but I didn't really want to interfere in the fight for the pink jersey," Viviani said of his obviously tempered sprint. "But I was never going to sprint flat out with just 60km to go: I needed to save my legs for the finish."

Elia Viviani on the podium after stage two
EPA

Flat in Eilat

Tom Fordyce

Chief sports writer in Eilat

The run-in to today's finish in the Red Sea coast might look custom-made for the sprinters, but there is still a brisk cross-wind on the 400 metre finishing straight. It'll be a headwind as the peloton comes roaring into town too, and locals say the wind down here can change direction at any time. Plenty for the lead-out trains to think about.

Break holding firm

It's all rather pedestrian in Israel - nothing like the brutal 'Yorkshire Terrier' day as the Tour de Yorkshire reaches its conclusion. Read live text of that here.

The break is holding firm with 85km remaining. This will be reeled in for a bunch sprint in Eilat

It's windy in Eilat

Up ahead in Eilat, BBC Sport's chief sports writer Tom Fordyce has ditched the keyboard for a video camera. Here's his thoughts on the finish.

App users may have to click to view.

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Barbin takes KoM jersey

We join the stage just after the only categorised climb of the day and Marco Frapporti sprinted clear on the cat four ascent to take the three points on offer.

Enrico Barbin was not too bothered. The two points he picked up for being second over the top were enough to ensure he retains the King of the Mountains jersey.

Break well established

Today's break is already well established.

And unsurprisingly Guillaume Boivin is in it. The former Canadian national champion, who is riding for the Israel Cycling Academy, fought tooth and nail to get in yesterday's break.

Today's effort was slightly more straightforward because he was joined by Marco Frapporti of the Androni-Sidermec team and Enrico Barbin of Bardiani and the peloton was happy to watch them disappear into the desert.

They have a lead of just under four minutes with 95km of today's 229km to race.

Three breakaway riders at Giro
Getty Images

Simon says: Viviani at the double

Mitchelton-Scott rider Simon Yates has written our stage-by-stage guide for this year's race. Here's the thoughts of the British rider, who currently sits seventh overall after an excellent opening two days.

Simon says: Day three is a lazy 230km stage. Longer stages, especially flatter stages in the first week of a Grand Tour (particularly the Giro) can be quite negative. The one thing that could change the dynamic of this stage is the wind. That and the fact we are riding a big piece of this stage in the desert.

The run-in to the finish is technical and could disrupt the lead out but it can be managed and it's another one for Quick-Step to lose. We will aim to leave Israel having lost as little time as possible on the time trial, and to finish safely in the bunch on the other two stages, having spent as little energy as possible, not just fellow team leader Esteban Chaves and I, but the whole team.

Simon's one to watch: Elia Viviani- the Italian can start the race off in fine style with successive stage wins.

Simon has picked both stage winners so far...

Giro d'Italia stage three profile
Giro d'Italia

Giro heading south

Hello and welcome to coverage of stage three of this year's three-week Giro d'Italia.

Today's 229km race takes the riders from Be'er Sheva - a town south of Jerusalem - directly south to Eilat, which is itself about as far south as you can get in Israel.

The road that takes you there is long and goes straight through the Negev Desert which takes up around half the country.

Eilat is only a few miles from the border with Egypt on one side and Jordan on the other and is right on the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea.

Negev Desert
Reuters

Beware of camels

Saturday's second stage of the 2018 Giro d'Italia did not quite provide the same level of drama as the opening one but all the main contenders for the overall victory arrived in Tel Aviv unscathed.

A tactically superb ride by BMC Racing got their man Rohan Dennis into the race lead as Elia Viviani won the bunch sprint.

What will day three hold?

Road sign on Giro d'Italia stage three
Reuters