Elia Viviani said he wouldn't have been able to win Saturday's Giro d'Italia stage in Tel Aviv had he still been riding for British team Sky.
"I'm glad I took the decision to take the Giro d'Italia to Israel" race director Mauro Vegni told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
Viviani overcame route "beer Sheva - Eilat" in 5 hours 2 minutes 9 seconds.
Having already worn the yellow jersey of Tour de France leader and the red jersey of Vuelta a Espana leader, today he hoped to add the iconic pink jersey to his collection.
New Zealand's general classification hope, George Bennett, did a reasonable job, losing 49 seconds in the time trial, and finishing in the lead bunch in both sprints.
Viviani was well off the pace with less than two kilometres to go but the Italian powered home to win comfortably ahead of Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) and Irishman Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The fourth stage will be held in Sicily (Catania - Calagione, 198 km).
"The pressure was off after yesterday's win", Viviani said.
"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. "I've got the best lead-out team for the sprints so I don't really care who I am up against".
He was 19th, 38 seconds behind the leader.
It won't be as straightforward when the race resumes on Tuesday night after a rest day, with a hilly stage ending in an steep uphill finish on the agenda - providing Bennett and his rivals with their first chance to strike a blow on Italian soil. From Cervinia, the Giro will move on May 27th to Rome for the 21 and last stage.
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.
"The way the fans responded these three days, we've been impressed - we've also spoken about it amongst the riders - a Tour of Israel could be a good thing one day", he said.
The Israel Cycling Academy squad was making its maiden Grand Tour appearance and enjoyed the sight of one of its riders, Canadian Guillaume Boivin, leading for much of the stage before he was passed by the sprinters in the windy descent into Eilat.
In 2014, the Giro started in Belfast, but this year's opening weekend in Israel is the first time it's been outside of Europe.
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