Roglic seals 2nd consecutive Spanish Vuelta victory

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MADRID — It was a vastly different finish for Primoz Roglic at the Spanish Vuelta compared to two months ago at the Tour de France.

This time, Roglic was celebrating a Grand Tour victory instead of dwelling on a late collapse that cost him the victory.

Roglic clinched his second consecutive Vuelta victory with an uneventful final ride into Madrid in Sunday’s largely ceremonial stage, solidifying his status as a top rider.

“We were just enjoying,” he said. “It’s beautiful to finish the season like this. It was a special year.”

The 31-year-old Slovenian from team Jumbo-Visma virtually sealed the victory in Stage 17 on Saturday after escaping another collapse in the last competitive stage, when his overall lead over Richard Carapaz was cut from 45 to 24 seconds.

It was the second Grand Tour win for Roglic, who had been in contention at the Tour de France until the last competitive day. He won four stages at the Vuelta this year, including the first. Last year he had one stage victory.

Roglic has become the first rider to win the Vuelta’s overall standings and the points classification two years in a row.

“It’s really beautiful to win the red jersey and the green jersey to finish this year,” he said.

Carapaz, the 2019 Giro d’Italia winner, became the first Ecuadorean rider to finish on the podium at the Vuelta.

Hugh Carthy finished third at the three-week race across Spain, with Dan Martin fourth and Enric Mas fifth.

Pascal Ackermann defeated Sam Bennett in a photo finish at the deciding sprint of the final stage, which lacked the huge crowds of previous editions in the Spanish capital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I wasn’t sure, I was asking Sam who won,” Ackermann said. “I was really unsure and we had to wait after the finish and we got the message in the radio.”

Veteran Alejandro Valverde finished 10th for his 20th top 10 in a Grand Tour event at age 40. Two-time champion Chris Froome was out of contention from the start after struggling in the early stages. It was his final race before moving from team Ineos to Israel Start-Up Nation next season.

“Obviously it’s been an emotional day,” said the 35-year-old British rider, who ended 98th in the overall standings. “My last with the team after 11 years.”

The Vuelta finished without major disruptions despite a surge of coronavirus cases in Spain. Tight health restrictions were in place for the race that was originally scheduled for late August and early September but was postponed because of the pandemic.

This Vuelta had only 18 stages instead of the usual 21. The sixth stage had to be altered to avoid going into French territory, and organizers had already canceled plans to hold the first three stages in the Netherlands and to have two stages enter neighboring Portugal.

A facial-recognition phone app replaced the traditional signature of riders at the start of each stage to reduce contact with pens and surfaces, and fans were asked not to gather at finish lines. Riders, team members and race staff were constantly tested for COVID-19.

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.