Italian Elia Viviani crosses the finish line to win the second stage of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday. Photo: Sebastian Scheiner/AP

TEL AVIV – Elia Viviani won the second stage of the Giro d’Italia, nudging past Italian countryman Jakub Mareczko in a bunch sprint finish on Saturday.

Thanks to a time bonus, Australian rider Rohan Dennis, team leader of BMC Racing, took a one-second lead over defending champion Tom Dumoulin to capture the pink jersey. Victor Campenaerts of Belgium was third.

Viviani, riding for Quick-Step Floors, finished the 167km leg down the Mediterranean coast from Haifa to Tel Aviv in less than four hours before thousands of chanting fans.

Israelis lined the coastal route to see the first Grand Tour to be held outside Europe. Riders passed landmarks such as the ancient cities of Acre and Caesarea.

Stage three will follow a lengthy 229km route on Sunday from Beersheba in the Negev desert down to Israel’s southern tip of Eilat along the Red Sea.

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 May 27.

AP