Bennett wins 7th stage, Yates stays pink (3)

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BC-CYC-Giro d'Italia, 2nd Ld-Writethru, 384 Bennett wins 7th stage as Yates maintains Giro d'Italia leadAP Photo PRA102, PRA101, PRA105, PRA106Eds: Updates with Yates quotes.

Yates was third in the general classification at the start of the 169-kilometre route from Caltanissetta to Etna, trailing leader Rohan Dennis by 17 seconds.

The two rode in sync to the line where Chaves was given right of passage to take the stage win by the Briton.

From Friday, after the opening two stages in Isreal were followed by three days in Sicily, the Giro continues on the Italian mainland with the 159km seventh stage between Pizzo and Praia a Mare in Calabria. "I said to him as soon as I caught him that he could take the stage because if I had enough time I would take the jersey", Yates added. "I had the power, I saw the files, so I knew what I was capable of, but it's one thing to have the belief and another to actually do it", said Bennett, who was third on stage 2 and stage 3, both won by Viviani.

"It was very hard to get Viviani's wheel, everyone wanted that wheel, and we had to fight for it".

New Zealand cyclist George Bennett has maintained his top 10 placing at the Giro d'Italia after stage seven on Saturday morning (NZ time).

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The stage was won by Esteban Chaves, whose Mitchelton-Scott teammate Simon Yates crossed the line immediately after him and took the overall lead of the race in the process.

Team Sky's Chris Froome, bidding to complete a Grand Tour triple crown, is a minute and 10 seconds back in eighth spot after finishing 10th.

After moving into the pink jersey on Mount Etna, this is exactly the sort of day that Simon Yates and his Mitchelton-Scott team-mates would have hoped for.

"Tomorrow, if I have the legs, I might try something".

The Giro ends in Rome on May 27. At one stage I thought Quickstep had gone too early and they were looking back to check me out and I was wondering were they trying to panic me and get me to go early again.