Austrian cyclists Denifl, Preidler handed four-year doping bans

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VIENNA — Two Austrian cyclists were banned for four years on Thursday for being part of an international blood-doping ring involving multiple sports.

The Austrian Anti-Doping Legal Committee banned Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler, who both raced in Grand Tours and made up Austria’s road-race team at the 2016 Olympics. The two were provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union in March during the Operation Aderlass criminal investigation that was revealed by raids at the Nordic skiing world championships in Austria.

According to the committee, Denifl used blood doping at least from June 2014 until the end of 2018, and Preidler between February and December last year.

Denifl has been stripped of all his race results from June 2014-March 2019, including a stage win at the 2017 Spanish Vuelta. That victory could go to runner-up Alberto Contador.

The UCI said the riders can appeal against their suspensions within four weeks at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Preidler, who rode for Groupama-FDJ at that time, and Denifl both admitted to doping after being arrested following police raids at the Nordic worlds and a medical practice in Germany. A German doctor who used to work in professional cycling has been accused of providing blood doping services to athletes in various sports.

Alongside five cross-country skiers who were arrested at the championships, Denifl and Preidler were the first cyclists to be caught. Six more riders, including retired sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, have also been linked to the ring.

A German prosecutor working alongside Austrian authorities on the case said in March that as many as 21 athletes from five sports may have been part of the doping ring.

Norway takes gold-medal lead at world road cycling titles

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WOLLONGONG, Australia – Soren Waerenskjold repeated Norway’s gold medal success at the world road cycling championships a day after Tobias Foss finished first in the elite men’s time trial.

Waerenskjold won the men’s under-23 time trial on the second day of the championships with a dominant performance. He clocked 34 minutes, 13.40 seconds over the 28.8-kilometer course to beat Belgian Alec Segaert by 16.34 seconds.

British rider Leo Hayter, the younger brother of elite rider Ethan Hayter, was 24.16 seconds off the pace for the bronze medal.

Foss beat a strong field to win the elite time trial, the biggest win of his career.

Norway has two gold medals, while Dutch ace Ellen van Dijk beat Australian Grace Brown to take out the women’ elite time trial.

The mixed relay time trial is set for Wednesday. The championships conclude on the weekend with the women’s road race on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday.

Ellen van Dijk defends time trial title at cycling worlds

95th UCI Road World Championships 2022 - Women Individual Time Trial
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WOLLONGONG, Australia – Ellen van Dijk defended her title and claimed a third women’s time trial gold medal at the opening event of the world road cycling championships on Sunday.

Taking advantage of a technical course the Dutch star maintained a perfectly paced cadence to beat Australia’s Grace Brown by 12.79 seconds to defend the time trial gold she won last year. Swiss rival Marlen Reusser took bronze.

Local favorite Brown was one of the early staters and set a blistering time around the 34.2 kilometer (21.3 miles) course at the scenic coastal town center of Wollongong, south of Sydney.

No other in the 45-strong field could get close to Brown’s time of 44 minutes 41.33 seconds until the final pair of van Dijk and Reusser, who claimed silver at last year’s world championships in Belgium, both clocked faster at the first time check.

Reusser then faded to finish more than 41 seconds off Brown’s time, but van Dijk powered on to claim her third gold medal in a time of 44:28.60.

Olympic time trial champion and two-time world champion Annemiek van Vleuten finished seventh, more than 90 seconds behind compatriot van Dijk.

Later Sunday, Vuelta a Espana winner Remco Evenepoel from Belgium, Italian two-time defending world champion Filippo Ganna and two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar from Slovenia headline the men’s event.

Other major races are the mixed relay time trial on Wednesday and the women’s road race next Saturday before the men’s race on the closing day Sunday, with local star and Giro d’Italia winner Jai Hindley racing the clock to recover from COVID-19 to take his place in the race.