Caleb Ewan wins Stage 2 of Tour Down Under, takes lead

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Caleb Ewan of Australia won stage two and claimed the overall lead in the Tour Down Under cycle race Wednesday as the first event of the World Tour season wound through landscapes scorched by recent wildfires.

Ewan showed his immense power in the uphill sprint to the finish to race away from defending champion Daryl Impey of South Africa at the end of the 135.8 kilometer (84 mile) stage from Woodside to Stirling.

He claimed his eighth stage win of his career on his home tour in 3 hours, 27 minutes, 31 seconds.

Australia’s Nathan Haas was third and Jasper Philipsen of Belgium fourth.

First stage winner Sam Bennett of Ireland was 13th, credited with the same time as Ewan. But Ewan claimed a 10 second time bonus for the stage win to take over from Bennett in the tour leader’s ocher jersey.

Ewan and Bennett are credited with the same time on general classification but Ewan, who finished seventh on the first stage, holds the race lead on count back.

Impey moved into a challenging position, only a second behind the race leader while Philpsen is fourth, four seconds behind Ewan.

“I’m super happy with that,” Ewan said. “Yesterday things didn’t go to plan and I think we spoke for about an hour in the room about what we can do better.

“The boys did absolutely perfect today, they did everything I asked for and I headed to the line in perfect position.”

A crash within two kilometers of the line Wednesday fractured the peloton and left only about 25 riders in contention but Ewan stayed out of trouble and was left perfectly placed to unleash his sprint.

“You can’t do it on your own and I said to (the team) yesterday if I’m going to win today’s stage it’s a tough one and I’m going to need all the help I can get,” Ewan said.

Bennett also avoided the late pileup and was in a strong position heading towards the finish but he didn’t have Ewan’s late acceleration.

“In top form I know I can do a finish like this but in January it’s just good to be here,” Bennett said. “To have these legs already in the season is pretty good.

“At 200 meters to go I thought this could be a good day but I got off the saddle and there’s nothing there.”

The race Wednesday passed through bush land and vineyards showing the scars of recent wildfires. At times the riders rode through a brown wasteland of burned trees.

The course was planned before the fires and locals insisted it should go ahead as part of the recovery from the recent crisis.

Thursday’s third stage will favor climbers, featuring a stiff climb to the finish atop a hill at Paracombe.

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.