AP Photo

Dideriksen edges favorite Wild in women’s road cycling championships

1 Comment

DOHA, Qatar — Amalie Dideriksen surprised even herself when her late surge edged her ahead of favorite Kirsten Wild and won the women’s race at the road cycling world championships on Saturday.

Lotta Lepisto of Finland was third with the same time, and defending champion Elizabeth Deignan of Britain fourth.

The 20-year-old Dideriksen was the world junior champion in 2013 and 2014, and finished fifth in the omnium at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. But the quality of the field at the road worlds made her consider only a top-10 finish.

“Winning here is a surprise for me, too,” the Dane said. “I had such good teammates. I had a small crash and they brought me back.”

The Netherlands team was in control heading toward the sprint finish, with Marianne Vos in perfect position to win her fourth road race world title as the group entered the final 300 meters. Her compatriot Wild, considered a Doha specialist having won the Ladies Tour of Qatar four times, then took over.

But Dideriksen, who was 17th with one lap to go, unleashed an even better finish.

The 134-kilometer race started in 35-degree heat, and Japan champion Eri Yonamine was the first to attack.

On the second of seven laps of the man-made island Pearl, Wild crashed, got up quickly, and was soon brought back into the peloton.

Yonamine was joined by Switzerland’s Nicole Hanselmann up front, and the duo was ahead by 40 seconds with 84 kilometers to go.

There were relentless attacks by Netherlands, Germany, Britain, and Australia, and the leaders were reeled in around the halfway mark.

American Amber Neben attacked with three laps to go, and opened up a gap of 45 seconds with two laps to go, which was brought down to 24 seconds after another lap. But the Dutch, Australians, and British soon took over and were bunched up closing on the finish.

On Sunday, the championships end with the men’s race. Peter Sagan of Slovakia is the defending champion.

Cycling’s top riders set for Tour of California next month

AP Photo
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) The top men’s and women’s teams will compete next month in the Amgen Tour of California, the premier U.S. cycling race.

The men will cover 645 miles over seven stages from Long Beach to Sacramento from May 13 to May 19. The women will have three of the top five teams for their three-day, 187-mile race that starts May 17 in Elk Grove.

Race owner AEG announced Thursday that Pete Sagan will ride for the BORA-hansgrohe team while Mark Cavendish will go for Team Dimension Data and be joined by Rafal Majka.

Tony Gallopin of AG2R La Mondiale is in the men’s field. So is LottoNL-Jumbo’s Nielson Powless, the race’s best young rider in 2016.

The women feature 2016 champion Megan Guarnier of USA Cycling National Team, Katie Hall of UnitedHealthcare and Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon/SCRAM.

Niki Terpstra wins Tour of Flanders

AP Photo
Leave a comment

OUDENAARDE, Belgium — Niki Terpstra continued his fine form by winning the Tour of Flanders classic with a well-timed late attack on Sunday, becoming the first Dutch rider in more than 30 years to win the race.

Terpstra caught a mini-breakaway group of three riders on the final climb, and the Quick-Step Floors rider moved too far ahead to be caught. Danish rider Mads Pedersen finished second and Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert – last year’s winner – was third.

“It’s a dream come true. Winning Paris-Roubaix (in 2014) and now the Tour of Flanders,” Terpstra said. “Those two races were always a big dream for me when I was young kid. I was already crazy about those two races, I can’t describe how happy I am.”

The previous Dutchman to win the Tour of Flanders was Adri van der Poel in 1986, and this was Terpstra’s second classics win in quick succession. He also won the E3 Harelbeke on March 23.

As he neared the line in Oudenaarde, after 263 kilometers (163 miles) of grueling riding in tricky conditions, Terpstra looked round three times to see where Pedersen was. Finally, he knew victory was assured and raised his arms in the air as he free-wheeled the last 20 meters.

Along with the rain and chilly temperatures, riders weren’t helped by a stray car driving on the course in the Flemish town of Aalst, about 60 kilometers into the race.

Startled riders cautiously navigated around the slow-moving gray car, or moved aside. After a few moments, the driver finally managed to get off the course.

The race, also known as De Ronde, is one of five higher-profile classics along with Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro di Lombardia.

It features 18 short but punishing climbs and five cobblestone sections.

Terpstra caught the front three – which included Pedersen – on the final grueling Paterberg cobble climb and opened up a comfortable lead.

Earlier, a crash on a slippery road took down some 10 riders, sending one of them rolling into a roadside ditch. It was similar to a crash during last year’s race, which took down 2016 winner Peter Sagan. He was not caught up in it this time.

Sagan, who won the Gent-Wevelgem classic for the third time last Sunday, finished sixth.

With 40 kilometers left, the front trio of Pedersen and Dutch pair Sebastian Langeveld and Dylan van Baarle led by about 30 seconds.

Approaching the final 25 kilometers, Italian rider Vicenzo Nibali, the 2014 Tour de France champion, launched a surprise attack. But he did not get far before being caught by the pack.

After catching the front three, Terpstra opened up a lead of 40 seconds. Sagan attacked with 16 kilometers left, deciding it was time to chase him down. But he realized it was a futile chase and eased up with eight kilometers left.

Paris-Roubaix, known as the “Hell of the North” for its even more challenging cobbles, is next Sunday. Last year, Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet overtook Zdenek Stybar just before the line in a thrilling finish.

But Terpstra will be the rider to stop.