Gilbert wins another Vuelta stage as Roglic’s lead cut

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GUADALAJARA, Spain — Mastering strong winds that pushed riders to speeds of 75 kph (46 mph), veteran Philippe Gilbert won his second Spanish Vuelta stage on Wednesday, while Primoz Roglic lost a few seconds from his overall lead after a charge by Nairo Quintana.

Gilbert beat Sam Bennett in the final sprint of the 219.6-kilometer (136.4-mile) 17th stage, the longest of the three-week race that ends Sunday in Madrid.

Remi Cavagna, Gilbert’s teammate with Deceuninck-Quick Step, finished third in one of the fastest Vuelta stages due to the winds that took riders to an average speed of about 50 kph (31 mph).

“It was crazy from the gun,” said Gilbert, a 37-year-old Belgian who had also won the 12th stage. “It was really fast. At some point we were doing, even on the flat, 75 kph (46 mph). In 17 years as a pro, I don’t think I’ve ever done that. It was really, really crazy.”

Roglic, who has worn the overall leader’s red jersey since the 10th stage, saw Quintana reduce his lead to 2 minutes, 24 seconds. The former ski jumper from Slovenia was nearly three minutes ahead of the pack after Monday’s 16th stage. Quintana’s Movistar teammate, Alejandro Valverde, dropped from second to third overall as he failed to keep up with Quintana on Wednesday.

“It was a hard day. I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have been where I was, I should have been in the front,” Roglic said. “The team saved me with a big effort. We’re still in a really good position. It was a hard day for everyone. We lost a battle today, but not the war. We’ll see in Madrid, but things are still looking really good for us.”

Riders were coming off the race’s last rest day on Tuesday.

They face a tough mountain stage of 177.5 kilometers (110.3 miles) on Thursday with four Category 1 climbs.

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.