Sam Bennett wins Stage 1 of Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Sam Bennett timed his sprint perfectly Tuesday to win the 150-kilometer (93-mile) opening stage of the Tour Down Under cycle race, the first event of the UCI World Tour.

The Irish rider took advantage of exceptional lead-out work by his Deceuninck Quick-Step teammates to cross the line half a bike length ahead of Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen. Erik Baska of Slovakia was third and Elia Viviani of Italy fourth.

Germany’s Andre Greipel, who has won more stages on the tour than any other rider, was in fifth place and Australian sprint star Caleb Ewan was seventh.

The stage featured five laps of a 30-kilometer circuit through the picturesque wine-growing region of the Barossa Valley, starting and finishing in Tanunda and passing through the townships of Angaston, Bethany and Nuriootpa.

There was a 2.3-kilometer (1.4 mile) straight dash to the finish which Bennett, a five-time stage-winner on Grand Tours, thought wouldn’t suit his racing style.

But he was brought into the finish just at the right time, edging along the barriers on the left side of the road and breaking clear to hold out Philipsen and to post his first win for his new, Belgium-based team.

“I think it was definitely the job of the team which was the reason why I won today,” Bennett said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t feel the pressure coming (to a new team) to get that first win.

“The guys did an absolutely fantastic job, kept me in great position and they did the lead-out perfectly. Every one of them played a superb role today and I can’t thank them enough.”

Four riders took part in an early breakaway and stayed away from the peloton for much of the stage, accumulating sprint and king of the mountain points, the latter as the race passed five times over Breakneck Hill.

The peloton swallowed the break on the last lap and set up a pure sprint finish which featured the best sprinters in the field.

The second stage Wednesday is 135.8-kilometers (84 miles).

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.