Close to home, Iturria takes Vuelta stage for 1st win

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URDAX, Spain (AP) Mikel Iturria couldn’t have asked for a better setting for his first professional cycling win.

Just a few kilometers (miles) from home and with his family watching, Iturria used a solo breakaway to win the 11th stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Wednesday.

“To win it the Vuelta, close to home and with my family here, is a dream come true,” the Spaniard said. “Before the race I was asked which stage I wanted to win, and I said this was the one. I gave all I had. I was going as fast as I could, finding strength that I didn’t know I had, and was able to make it to the end and win the stage.”

Iturria held on for the victory after making an impressive solo run with about 25 kilometers (15 miles) to go of the 180-kilometer (112-mile) ride from Saint-Palais to Urdax in Spain’s Basque Country.

Iturria, a 27-year-old rider from team Euskadi-Murias, finished six seconds ahead of the first group of chasers. He had built a gap of nearly 50 seconds with about 15 kilometers (9 miles) to go.

“I don’t have words for this,” the Basque Country rider said. “We’ll have to toast with champagne tonight.”

Overall leader Primoz Roglic finished safely in the peloton, which crossed the line almost 20 minutes after Iturria. Roglic remained 1 minute, 52 seconds in front of Alejandro Valverde, with Miguel Angel Lopez 19 seconds behind.

“It was a bit of a hard start but then it was a nice day and my team did a great job,” said Roglic, a former ski jumper from Slovenia who rides for team Jumbo-Visma. “We’ve proven this is a big team already. I don’t think tomorrow’s stage is more dangerous than the high mountains. I don’t have any problem with short climbs. We need to be focused on the moment and do our best.”

On Thursday, riders will face three difficult short climbs near the end of a 171-kilometer (106-mile) stage that will finish in Bilbao, still in Basque Country.

Giro d’Italia to start on former railway line in Abruzzo

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L’AQUILA, Italy — The 2023 edition of the Giro d’Italia will start with an individual time trial on a coastal cycle path that has been recreated from a former railway line in the region of Abruzzo.

At a ceremony in the Abruzzo capital of L’Aquila, race organizers announced that the Grand Tour will run from May 6-28 and begin with an 18.4-kilometer (11.4-mile) time trial on the Adriatic coast.

Almost the entire time trial will be on the spectacular Costa dei Trabocchi cycle path that hugs the coast line before a short climb to the finish in Ortona.

“I am excited at the idea of the Grande Partenza (Big Start) of the Giro in Abruzzo . It is a dream come true, especially with regard to the prologue on the Costa dei Trabocchi,” said Trek-Segafredo cyclist Dario Cataldo, who is from the region.

“I well remember that when the cycle path project was born and I saw the first tracks, I imagined the beauty of a Giro d’Italia passing along the route. It looked perfect.”

Stage 2 is a 204-kilometer (127-mile) leg from Teramo to San Salvo that is hilly in the first part but expected to end in a bunch sprint.

Stage 3 will also start in the Abruzzo region, in Vasto, but it will then head south and will be detailed when the full route is revealed on Oct. 17 in Milan.

The Giro will also return to the region for Stage 7, a daunting climb on the Gran Sasso d’Italia to Campo Imperatore. The high mountain stage, on May 12, will be the edition’s first finish above 2,000 meters.

Australian Jai Hindley won this year’s Giro.

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.