Ulissi outsprints Sagan in Stage 2 of Giro d’Italia

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AGRIGENTO, Sicily — For his seventh career stage win in the Giro d’Italia, Diego Ulissi beat the best in the business in a finish tailor-made for three-time world champion Peter Sagan.

Helped by a perfect setup from UAE-Team Emirates teammate Valerio Conti, Ulissi outsprinted Sagan on the short, final climb to win Stage 2 alongside Agrigento’s spectacularly intact ancient Greek temples on Sunday.

“I noticed that we were climbing too slowly so I told Conti to accelerate and try to make it tough to tire out the sprinters,” Ulissi said. “We were perfect. When you’re able to beat the strongest riders it’s really extraordinary.”

Crossing the finish line with his arms raised several bike lengths ahead of Sagan, Ulissi completed the 149-kilometer (93-mile) leg from Alcamo in under 3 + hours.

Filippo Ganna held onto the pink jersey he grabbed by winning the opening time trial in Palermo.

Danish rider Mikkel Frolich Honore crossed third with the same time as Ulissi and Sagan, while Ganna and the other overall favorites finished in the main pack five seconds behind.

Ganna remained 22 seconds ahead of Joao Almeida, while Geraint Thomas – the 2018 Tour de France champion – moved up from fourth to third, 23 seconds behind.

The final 4 kilometers were uphill at an average gradient of 5% with one short stretch at 9% placed 2.5 kilometers from the finish.

An early breakaway of five riders gained an advantage of nearly five minutes on the main pack, with breakaway rider Thomas De Gendt winning all three of the intermediate sprints.

Ganna’s and Thomas’ Ineos Grenadiers team led the chase and caught the breakaway with just under 10 kilometers to go.

The victory was extra sweet for Ulissi, who began the season stuck in quarantine in Abu Dhabi when his second daughter was born in March.

Aleksandr Vlasov of the Astana team withdrew midway through the stage due to stomach sickness. Vlasov had been seen as a possible overall contender behind Astana captain Jakob Fuglsang, who struggled in the opening time trial.

It’s been a rough start for Astana, which also had Miguel Angel Lopez crash out during the time trial.

The race should heat up Monday when Stage 3 takes the peloton up the Mount Etna volcano after a 150-kilometer route from Enna.

“Tomorrow I’ll work to help Thomas,” Ganna said.

Then there’s one more stage in Sicily on Tuesday before the race moves over to mainland Italy.

The Giro was originally scheduled to start with three stages in Hungary and run from May 9-31, but it was postponed and revised because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The race ends on Oct. 25 with an individual time trial in Milan.

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.

Ellen van Dijk defends time trial title at cycling worlds

95th UCI Road World Championships 2022 - Women Individual Time Trial
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WOLLONGONG, Australia – Ellen van Dijk defended her title and claimed a third women’s time trial gold medal at the opening event of the world road cycling championships on Sunday.

Taking advantage of a technical course the Dutch star maintained a perfectly paced cadence to beat Australia’s Grace Brown by 12.79 seconds to defend the time trial gold she won last year. Swiss rival Marlen Reusser took bronze.

Local favorite Brown was one of the early staters and set a blistering time around the 34.2 kilometer (21.3 miles) course at the scenic coastal town center of Wollongong, south of Sydney.

No other in the 45-strong field could get close to Brown’s time of 44 minutes 41.33 seconds until the final pair of van Dijk and Reusser, who claimed silver at last year’s world championships in Belgium, both clocked faster at the first time check.

Reusser then faded to finish more than 41 seconds off Brown’s time, but van Dijk powered on to claim her third gold medal in a time of 44:28.60.

Olympic time trial champion and two-time world champion Annemiek van Vleuten finished seventh, more than 90 seconds behind compatriot van Dijk.

Later Sunday, Vuelta a Espana winner Remco Evenepoel from Belgium, Italian two-time defending world champion Filippo Ganna and two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar from Slovenia headline the men’s event.

Other major races are the mixed relay time trial on Wednesday and the women’s road race next Saturday before the men’s race on the closing day Sunday, with local star and Giro d’Italia winner Jai Hindley racing the clock to recover from COVID-19 to take his place in the race.