Germany, Netherlands cap dominate track cycling worlds

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BERLIN — Emma Hinze of Germany and Harrie Lavreysen of the Netherlands put a fitting bow Sunday on the final day of the track cycling world championships, the last major event for their sport ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Hinze won her third gold medal by holding off the field from the front in the keirin, making it a clean sweep for the host nation in the women’s sprinting events at the Berlin Velodrome. And Lavreysen won his third gold in the sprint to give the Dutch team a table-leading six gold medals and nine total over the course of the five-day event.

“I think this is the best feeling,” Lavreysen said, “to take three golds out of three races. I couldn’t wish for more.”

In the other two events Sunday, Elinor Barker of Britain gained a lap on the field in the women’s points race to easily win her fifth career world championships gold medal. And in the men’s Madison, which returns to the Olympic program this year, Danish riders Lasse Norman Hansen and Michael Morkov gained an early lap and cruised to the victory.

The story of the world championships, though, where the German women sprinters and the strength of the Dutch team.

Hinze had already won gold in the sprint and teamed with Lea Friedrich – also the gold medalist in the 500 meters – and Pauline Grabosch to win the team sprint. So she took the starting line for the keirin already pleased with her week, and in some ways hardly expecting to find her way to the front of the mass-sprinting event.

Instead, that’s exactly where she found herself on the ball lap at the Berlin Velodrome. All she had to do from there was keep to the inside sprinter’s lane and kick for the finish line as the rest of the field attempted to catch her.

Lee Hyejin of Korea took the silver medal, Stephanie Morton salvaged bronze to finish off a rough worlds for Australia. and defending champion Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong finished fourth and missed out on a medal entirely.

“I still can’t believe it. I didn’t expect to win,” Hinze said. “Lea and Pauline and I won every event at this world championships. If someone were to tell me that before, I wouldn’t believe it. It’s just awesome.”

In the men’s sprint, Lavreysen easily swept aside Malaysia’s Azizulhasni Awang in the semifinals and advanced to face his Dutch teammate Jeffrey Hoogland, who dispatched Mateusz Rudyk of Poland to reach the gold-medal round.

Lavreysen needed only two races in the best-of-three match to finish off his golden world championships.

“It was really tough,” he said of facing his teammate. “We did it a lot of times the last two years, but I think the hardest part is the coaches don’t worry about coaching us. They already won gold. They just say, `You guys fight it out and we’ll see.’ So I had to make my own plan and work it out myself.”

Barker controlled the women’s points race from the moment she gained a lap, then added a sprint win to finish with 50 points and claim gold. American rider Jennifer Valente added silver to the gold she won in the team pursuit and the silver she won in the scratch race to cap a solid showing at worlds, and Anita Yvonne Stenberg of Norway took bronze.

“Really, really happy,” Barker said. “It feels kind of like a blur of pain, to be honest. I’m going to have to watch it back to see what happened. The last 30 laps was so painful, but I’m happy with how it went. A dream come true.”

Hansen, part of the record-setting Danish team pursuit gold medalists, was the heavy favorite with Morkov in the Madison, where riders hand off during the endurance event by physically slingshotting each other around the track. When the duo picked up a lap early to gain 20 points, it made Hansen and Morkov essentially unbeatable for gold.

“We were expecting to start as one of the favorites,” Morkov said, “so we wanted to see a bit how the race unfolded. We wanted to go for some points at the start. But Lasse saw a chance to go for a lap and we were lucky enough to make it.”

Cambpell Stewart and Aaron Gate of New Zealand earned silver and Roger Kluge and Theo Reinhardt of Germany bronze.

“Basically we were 30, 40 points ahead the whole time,” Hansen said, “so pretty early we were sure we were going to win. The last 20 laps it was hard to keep the concentration on the race and not the jersey already.”

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

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ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”