The Giro d'Italia's Israeli excursion is over, and now the excitement begins.

With the opening time trial and two sprint stages complete, the Giro will head to hillier territory as the riders travel to Italy, where the contenders will seperate themselves from the pack.

For many, the first three stages were straightforward - try to limit the time lost in the time trial, and stay out of trouble on the sprint stages.

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.


Bennett finished 25th on this morning's stage to jump up another five spots on the general classification, sitting in 32nd overall, 50 seconds behind overall leader Rohan Dennis.

Finishing in the lead group was a trickier task on stage three, with several riders - including Kiwi rider Tom Scully - losing contact in the crosswinds near the end of the stage as the peloton drifted into one long line.

Bennett stayed near the front to avoid any time losses, with the sprint being won for the second straight day by the favourite, Elia Viviani.

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.

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.

Niall Anderson is covering every stage of the Giro d'Italia live for the Herald. He has no clue what to do for tomorrow's rest day.