Cavagna wins Stage 3 of Tour of California; van Garderen keeps lead

0 Comments

MORGAN HILL, Calif. — Remi Cavagna began his post-race news conference by apologizing for his heavily accented English.

He should have apologized to the field for his powerful legs.

The Frenchman decimated the peloton with an audacious solo breakaway to win Stage 3 of the Tour of California on Tuesday. He was so far clear of the field – more than seven minutes by the finish – that he had toweled off and recovered by the time the rest of them crossed the line.

“Today was really hard. It was a long day,” he said. “But we go the maximum we can and I could go on the climb to the end. But it was really hard. I’m really happy.”

So was American rider Tejay van Garderen, who was able to easily protect the leader’s yellow jersey in part because the peloton was so far behind that nobody was willing to push the tempo.

In essence, they simply allowed Cavagna to roll to the win.

“It was really important for the team, for us to win here,” said Cavagna, whose Deceuninck-Quick Step team is sponsored by Specialized, a bike-maker based in the finishing town of Morgan Hill.

The third stage took riders 129 miles from Stockton, and Cavagna broke away early with 21-year-old Alex Hoehn of the U.S. national team. The two of them quickly built a sizeable gap on a peloton that was content to take it easy after a brutal ride Monday to South Lake Tahoe.

“It was an extremely hard stage today,” Hoehn said. “I feel fine now. I was really messed up after the race. I probably had a few too many caffeinated gels. It’s all they kept giving me. I kept asking for solid food and they kept giving me gels. But no, I’m better now. The stage was really hard.”

It was on Mt. Hamilton that the 23-year-old Cavagna finally rode away from Hoehn, and then he managed a tricky descent before the flat run-in to the finish. Cavagna got into an aerodynamic tuck and cruised the rest of the way, punching a fist as he crossed the finish line.

That gave his team back-to-back stage wins after Kasper Asgreen was victorious Monday.

The real drama was for second place.

Hoehn, making his Tour of California debut, earned the King of the Mountains jersey before he was caught by Simon Geschke and Ben King. The two of them kept the rest of the peloton at bay to set up their own sprint finish, and King swung out from behind Geschke to take second for Dimension Data.

Asgreen won the field sprint for fourth to hold onto his green jersey, and van Garderen was hardly out of breath after a perfect day by his EF Education First team to protect his leader’s jersey.

Van Garderen has a six-second advantage over Gianni Moscon.

Hoehn wound up being the hero of the day, though. His gutsy ride at the front of the pack made him plenty of fans, and he had some special ones waiting at the finish line – his family had flown in from his home near Kansas City earlier in the day to watch the stage unfold.

“I couldn’t ask for a better gift. It’s amazing that they are here,” he said. “I knew they were coming today and I didn’t really expect this. When I was alone, I was thinking of them, and that’s what kept me going through a lot of the day.”

The fourth stage on the weeklong road to Pasadena begins at Raceway Laguna Seca and takes riders on a visually stunning 138-mile ride along the Big Sur coast to Morro Bay.

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

4 Comments

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

5 Comments

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.”