Tom Dumoulin wins Giro d’Italia opening time trial

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APELDOORN, Netherlands — Home favorite Tom Dumoulin won the opening individual time trial of the Giro d’Italia by the finest of margins on Friday.

At the end of the flat 9.8-kilometer (6-mile) route, the Dutchman beat Primoz Roglic of Slovenia by one hundredth of a second.

“It’s incredible. I can almost not describe it in words,” said Dumoulin, who added that he felt sick afterwards. “(Hundredth) of a second is a breath of air and that’s it.

“It’s better than I could have imagined. In front of my home crowd to get the most beautiful jersey in cycling is very special. I did no big mistakes. You always think you could have done this corner a bit better, or that one … it wasn’t my best time trial but I’m wearing this jersey now. I will defend this as long as possible. I don’t think I have the level to compete in the real big mountains.”

Roglic took the lead off Dumoulin’s Giant-Alpecin teammate, Tobias Ludvigsson, who had been in the hot seat for around 90 minutes.

Ludvigsson eventually finished fourth, eight seconds behind the leading duo, and two seconds behind Costa Rican cyclist Andrey Amador.

Another time trial specialist, Fabian Cancellara, was hoping for a victory that would have handed him the first maglia rosa of his long career. But he was hampered by stomach flu and finished eighth, 14 seconds behind Dumoulin.

Overall favorite Vincenzo Nibali, the 2013 champion, was 19 seconds behind in 16th place.

“It was a very explosive time trial, I had to make a really big effort,” Nibali said. “It’s one stage out of the way now. I can be more than satisfied by what’s happened, but let’s just keep our feet on the ground.

“One or two days before a Grand Tour you can feel nervous, and I’m just happy we’re underway now.”

Stefan Kung threatened to challenge Dumoulin’s lead as he was only one second slower at 4.8 kilometers, but he crashed into the barriers. The Swiss rider finished up 16 seconds behind.

The 99th Giro continues in the Netherlands with two sprint stages before an early rest day and a return to Italy. The race ends in Turin on May 29.

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

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ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”