Diego Rosa wins 5th Basque Country stage, Henao takes lead


ARRATE, Spain — Diego Rosa of Italy completed an impressive solo ride to win a mountainous fifth stage of the Tour of Basque Country on Friday as Colombian Sergio Henao took over the lead.

Astana rider Rosa separated from an early breakaway group and stayed well in front of the pack for over 100 kilometers (62 miles) while crossing the route’s eight summits in steady rain and low temperatures. He finished in 4 hours, 19 minutes, 19 seconds.

The 27-year-old Italian savored his second career victory by stopping just before the finish of the 159-kilometer (98.7-mile) ride and lifting up his bike before he stepped over the line.

“My legs gave me the answers I was searching for, and I didn’t look back until I’ve seen the arch of the finish” Rosa said.

Henao of Sky and Alberto Contador of Tinkoff crossed next, more than three minutes later, closely followed by defending champion Joaquim Rodriguez and Thibaut Pinot.

“I’ve fought really hard every day to take the leader’s jersey and I finally have it,” said Henao, who finished second overall to Rodriguez in last year’s race. “When me and Alberto (Contador) went to the front we both wanted to gain time ahead of tomorrow’s time trial and we worked well together.”

With only 12 seconds separating Henao and Rodriguez in fourth place, the four front-runners have a shot at winning the race in northern Spain on Saturday’s sixth and final stage, a 16.5-kilometer (10.25-mile) time trial around Eibar.

Samuel Sanchez was sixth on Friday, ahead of Nairo Quintana and Lawson Craddock.

Overnight leader Wilco Kelderman struggled on the final climb and fell to eighth place overall, trailing Henao by more than a minute.

“We gained time against some riders but the race remains still open,” Contador said. “We have to make sure our legs work well tomorrow and we’ll see what result we get.”

Rosa’s teammate and Astana leader Fabio Aru withdrew from the race after he fell and hurt his wrist. Besides the Spanish Vuelta champion, 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal was also among riders who quit during the demanding stage.
Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press

Primoz Roglic triumphs at Tirreno-Adriatico for winning return from injury

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SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy — Primož Roglič made a winning return to cycling as he triumphed at the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico for a fourth Slovenian victory in five editions at “The Race of the Two Seas.”

It was Roglič’s first race of the season after the Jumbo-Visma rider underwent shoulder surgery last year.

“It’s just nice to come back to racing this way. I really enjoyed the whole week,” Roglič said. “My teammates were super strong.

“One week ago I was just expecting to suffer. It’s even better to win when it’s unexpected. It feels good ahead of the Giro d’Italia too.”

After winning the previous three stages to build up a significant advantage, Roglič protected his lead and finished safely in the peloton during Stage 7 to end the week-long race 18 seconds ahead of João Almeida of Portugal and 23 seconds ahead of British cyclist Tao Geoghegan Hart.

Roglič won the Tirreno in 2019. Fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogačar won the two previous editions but the two-time defending champion was competing at the Paris-Nice race which he won.

Belgian cyclist Jasper Philipsen won a bunch sprint to take the stage win. The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider edged out Dylan Groenewegen and Alberto Dainese.

It was Philipsen’s second sprint victory at this year’s Tirreno, setting him up as one of the favorites for next weekend’s Milan-San Remo race.

“I was dying in the end, my legs felt really painful, but I’m happy that I could keep it to the finish,” Philipsen said.

“The sprint stage is always different from a classic like San Remo but of course we have some confidence. We have a strong team I think. So now it’s good to take some time off, recover a little bit and try to be on top level.”

There was an early breakaway in the 154-kilometer (96-mile) route that started and finished in San Benedetto del Tronto but the eight riders were caught with just over 3 kilometers (2 miles) remaining.

Pogacar tops Gaudu, Vingegaard to win Paris-Nice


NICE, France — An impressive Tadej Pogacar clinched the final stage with a solo escape to win the week-long Paris-Nice.

David Gaudu finished second overall, 53 seconds behind Pogacar, while Jonas Vingegaard was third at 1 minute, 39 seconds back.

Pogacar attacked during the climb of Col d’Eze with 18 kilometers (11.2 miles) to go, finishing the eighth stage 33 seconds ahead of a small group made up of Vingegaard, Gaudu, Simon Yates and Matteo Jorgenson.

The Slovenian rider completed the 118-kilometer trek around Nice in 2 hours, 51 minutes, 2 seconds, crossing the finish line with both arms raised before taking a bow in front of the crowd and clapping his hands.

Pogacar now has a slight mental edge over Vingegaard, also outclassing him last October to win the Tour of Lombardy.

The duel between Pogacar and Vingegaard has become one of the biggest rivalries in cycling. Vingegaard finished second behind Pogacar in the 2021 Tour de France. But the Danish rider managed to beat Pogacar in the 2022 Tour de France for his first major title.

Vingegaard still has time to hit peak form. The Tour de France starts July 1.

Pogacar is the current leader in the UCI men’s road racing world rankings.

Pogacar and Vingegaard both started the season well. Last month in Spain, Pogacar won the Tour of Andalucia while Vingegaard won the O Gran Camino. Pogacar took the yellow jersey by winning the fourth stage. He dumped Vingegaard in the climb of La Loge des Gardes. Only Gaudu could stay on Pogacar’s wheel.

The two-time Tour de France winner extended his overall lead by taking Stage 7, beating Gaudu and Vingegaard in a small sprint atop Col de la Couillole.

French rider Gaudu finished fourth overall in the 2022 Tour de France but failed to finish in the past two editions of Paris-Nice.

The next race on the UCI World Tour is the Milan-San Remo classic on March 18.