Van Garderen takes over Tour of California lead after Stage 2


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Kasper Asgreen held back as Tejay van Garderen shredded the remnants of the breakaway on the final climb, then swung past him to win the second stage of the Tour of California on Monday.

Van Garderen wound up being the big winner anyway.

The American rider for EF Education First put serious time into the other overall contenders with his gritty push toward the finish line near Lake Tahoe. He wound up slipping on the leader’s jersey by six seconds over Gianni Moscon with Asgreen another second back in third place.

“Feels great,” said van Garderen, who won the overall race in 2013 but has weathered plenty of ups and downs in his career since that point. “I mean, it came as a bit of a surprise. I just would have assumed Kasper would have taken the jersey on the back of his stage win. I don’t know what happened to him yesterday. But it’s quite a surprise.”

Van Garderen predicted that many riders would sleep on the 133-mile second stage with higher elevations still to come in the week-long race. The ride began in Rancho Cordova and took riders to the Heavenly Ski Resort, a well-known finishing stretch for the Tour of California.

But the long, lumpy stage still took riders to altitude after a pancake flat opening stage around downtown Sacramento, and it quickly shredded the peloton on a long day in the saddle.

Eventually, a selection of 10 riders broke away from the field to contest the final climb.

Astana’s Davide Ballerini was the first to attack at the base of the mile-long final climb, but he was quickly reeled back. Van Garderen then stood up in his pedals and dropped four riders from the last group, then stood again and sent three more riders off the back.

“I made the initial attack and usually if they have the legs they’ll jump over me,” he said. “I kept looking back and when they didn’t jump I thought, `OK, they might not have the best legs.”‘

Moscon pulled slightly ahead on a brief flat section, then van Garderen attempted to kick one more time heading into the final corner. But after laying back throughout the climb, Asgreen summoned just enough strength to power ahead of his American rival to claim the stage win.

“It was a little longer than I wanted it to be and I had to go all the way to the line,” he said of the finishing kick. “It’s my first pro win so I’m very happy right now, and to take it on a stage like this, I’m really happy with it.”

Asgreen, who rides for Deceuninck-Quick-Step, and van Garderen were given the same time while Moscon finished four seconds later for Team Ineos.

“It was a very hard stage,” the Italian rider said. “It’s not easy to go to the finish line. We tried to do our best and in the final I didn’t have the legs.”

Asgreen got a 10-second time bonus for his first WorldTour win, while van Garderen’s runner-up finish gave him a six-second bonus – time that could prove crucial on the stages still to come.

The third stage Wednesday takes riders 126 miles from Stockton to Morgan Hill, and includes about 10,000 feet in additional climbing. It also includes a climb up Mt. Hamilton late in the stage, then a quick, tense descent to the finish line.

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.