A day after his opening-stage lead slipped away to defending champion Tom Dumoulin, Australia's Rohan Dennis has secured a measure of revenge by taking the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia.
Dennis (BMC) won the second intermediate sprint to gain crucial bonus seconds and eclipse Dumoulin (Sunweb) to claim the Maglia Rosa.
Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) grabbed his second grand tour win, nudging past Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) in a bunch-sprint finish at the end of the 167km stage down the Mediterranean coast from Haifa to Tel Aviv. Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe) was third.
"Rémi [Cavagna] took the responsibility on his shoulders and closed the breakaway, Styby [Zdenek Stybar] brought us to the front, then Florian [Sénéchal] took over with two kilometres to go before Michael [Mørkøv] and Saba [Fabio Sabatini] dropped me in the closing kilometre. It was chaotic because of all those corners and roundabouts, but we can be proud of ourselves," Viviani said.
DENNIS JOINS A SELECT GROUP
But it was Dennis took the overall lead with a wonderful piece of opportunism and teamwork as he took the pink jersey 24-hours later than he and his team had earlier hoped.
That was when he put in a blistering time trial in Jerusalem only to see world champion Dumoulin, the last man to roll down the start ramp, pip him by two seconds.
With a bonus of three seconds available at each of the race's intermediate sprints, BMC put in a huge turn to set Dennis up for the sprint, with Viviani close behind, although he was just stretching his legs for the real prize another 60km down the road.
"The plan was to just play it by ear initially. 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," Dennis said.
"About 40km or 50km from the sprint, they asked me if I wanted to do and I said not really but we did it anyway and I thought that I can't not put 100 per cent into it.
"The team delivered me exactly where I needed to be for the sprint and all I had to do was go as hard as I could and there was no way I couldn't win it.
Then after that, it was about making sure I didn't lose time in the splits in the final. It was massive teamwork.
"Yesterday was a bit disappointing but the team backed me today and the team did everything possible to put me into pink. It's a special feeling to have the Maglia Rosa.
"It's a great jersey and it's a real honour to be the leader of a Grand Tour and for our team, we wanted to do it for Andy Rihs. He put a lot into our team and we wanted to give back to him and to do this for him and his family is a real pleasure for us.
"We will keep it as long as possible but I think for me it is more about learning still. I'm sure at some stage it will be taken away from me but I will keep fighting all the way to Rome."
"When I first started cycling, I never thought that I would wear all Grand Tour leaders' jerseys. I saw guys do things like this and I always thought that was really amazing so to be a part of that little group is a real honour."
Dennis has now become the third Australian and one of only 22 men to lead all three Grand Tours, the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España.
Meanwhile, After the drama of Friday's warm-up ride crash and below-par time-trial effort, Team Sky's Chris Froome had a refreshingly uneventful day.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After a frantic start, Lars Bak (Lotto-FixAll), Davide Ballerini (Androni-Sidermec) and Guillaume Boivin (Israel Cycling Academy) established a 3min 30sec lead, but by the time they arrived at the bottom of the ascent that advantage was gone and Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF) crossed the top first.
Things calmed down for a few kilometres before tension began to build up again ahead of the second intermediate sprint, where Dennis took the virtual lead and Viviani grabbed more vital points after the ones scored earlier on the stage at the first intermediate sprint.
Immediately, the bunch slowed down, and that was the cue for Victor Campanaerts (Lotto-FixAll) to jump from the field, but his move was a short-lived one.
With more than 40km left, Boivin attacked again and put one minute and a half between him and the pack, prompting a reaction from Grand Tour debutant Rémi Cavagna, who took over the front of the bunch and began chewing into his advantage.
The catch was made with ten kilometres to go, and just as the teams began fighting for position, some riders decided to attack and see if they could foil the sprinters’ plans. That didn’t happen, but their actions made for a hectic and chaotic finish, leaving every rider on their own.
Stage 3, a long, hot and bumpy ride through the Negev Desert to the Red Sea resort of Eilat will be a truer test of how well the British four-time Tour de France champion has bounced back from his tumble.
The race will then transfer to Italy, and the island of Sicily, for an early rest day on Monday. The Giro will end in Rome on 27 May.