Australian Dennis (BMC) made up for his disappointment in losing Friday's opening time trial by two slender seconds to Team Sunweb's Dumoulin by winning the second intermediate sprint and moving one second clear of the Dutchman in the general classification.
BC-CYC-Giro d'Italia, 2nd Ld-Writethru, 586Viviani wins 3rd stage as Giro bids farewell to IsraelAP Photo ASC101, ASC103, ASC108, ASC107, ASC110Eds: Adds quotes, background, minor edits.
"It was the result of massive teamwork".
" From now on it's day by day - trying to keep the jersey as long as possible". I think there has to be a point where we go: "Ok, that's too far".
"I am sure at some stage I am going to lose this jersey", Dennis said, "but I won't stop fighting for it till we finish in Rome".
However, in previous years he has nearly always won at least one week-long stage race in the lead up to his major Grand Tour objective of the season.
Israel's selection as a hosting country was viewed as a historic victory and marks the first time this leg of the race has been held outside of Europe. "I've got the best lead-out team for the sprints so I don't really care who I am up against".
The peloton seemed relaxed as it departed Be'er Sheva with a trio managing to escape pretty easily consisting of Guillaume Boivin (Israel Cycling Academy), Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF) and Marco Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec).
Four-time Tour de France victor 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 pack.
Viviani, the only one of the world's elite sprinters competing at the Giro, proved once more that he is a class above, sitting on the wheel of Irish sprinter Sam Bennett and avoiding a close call with the barriers before powering past in the final metres to go back-to-back.
The Giro is renowned for turning its host towns pink and always puts on a spectacular show to start the race, although to be fair we didn't see much of it.
As I grabbed an omelette and some fruit, I had a quick chat with Irish national champion Ryan Mullen, who is riding his first Grand Tour here. Stage 3 will follow a 229-kilometer (143-mile) route from Beersheba in the Negev desert down to Israel's southern tip of Eilat along the Red Sea.
Tomorrow sees the first rest day of the race to allow the peloton and its accompanying circus to head back to Italy, where racing resumes on Sicily on Tuesday with a 198-kilometre stage from Catania to Caltagirone.