There is a new leader after stage two of the 2018 Giro d'Italia, and the old leader couldn't be happier about it.

Such is life in the world of cycling, where the leader's jersey at a major tour can lead to an unwanted workload for a team forced to defend the lead for long periods. So, when Rohan Dennis claimed three bonus seconds to take the leader's jersey away from Tom Dumoulin, there were few complaints from Dumoulin.

That was the sub-plot to the main script on the second stage, which was won by Italian sprinter Elia Viviani. The favourite for the stage, Viviani showed why by overcoming being out of position, coming from behind to surge past Jakub Mareczko and take his second win in his Giro career.

Often, sprint stages can be relatively dull proceedings until the final few kilometres, though this morning's stage offered a bit more action due to the contest for the leader's pink jersey.

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Dennis and Victor Campenaerts came into the stage just two seconds behind Dumoulin after the opening time trial, and their teams controlled the breakaway from getting away so they could attack the intermediate sprint points and gain the bonus seconds that come with them.

While the combative Campenaerts couldn't make hay, Dennis could, winning the second intermediate sprint and taking the bonus seconds on offer to sit pretty in pink at the end of the day.

By doing so, Dennis joins an elite group, with Australian time trial specialist the 23rd rider in cycling history to earn the leader's jersey in all three Grand Tours.

New Zealand's general classification hope, George Bennett, got through the stage safely, finishing in 37th to move up six spots into 37th overall.

After his fine time trial effort yesterday, Tom Scully was put to work for teammate Sacha Modolo, who finished fifth on the stage. With his work done in setting up Modolo for the sprint, Scully pulled out of the pack in the final kilometre, leaving Bennett as the best-placed New Zealand rider on the general classification.

Bennett's only general classification rivals who lost time was Wout Poels, who had a mechanical issue with five kilometres to go, and lost 40 seconds.

Stage three - the final one in Israel before the race heads to Italy - is another sprint stage, where Bennett will again try and avoid losing time, before the race heats up in the hills.

Niall Anderson is covering every stage of the Giro d'Italia live for the Herald, though is starting to regret doing it for the sprint stages.