Bjarne Riis steps down as team manager of NTT Pro Cycling

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Bjarne Riis is stepping down as as team manager of South Africa-based NTT Pro Cycling, the 1996 Tour de France champion said Wednesday.

The Dane, who admitted to doping following his retirement from cycling, said he “departs the organization by mutual consent.”

Riis took over the first team from Africa to compete at the World Tour level on Jan. 8. It marked his return to top-level men’s cycling since leaving his role as team manager of Tinkoff-Saxo in 2015. He has since been trying to establish Danish-based teams in the lower tiers of cycling.

“To be a part of NTT Pro Cycling during a unique year for all of us has been a great experience,” Riis said. “I have a lot of respect for the team that Doug (Ryder) has built and want to thank him for the opportunity. I wish him all the best for the future.”

Riis is to step down at the conclusion of the season, NTT Pro Cycling and Riis said in a joint statement.

“I’d like to thank Bjarne for the experience and leadership that he has brought to our environment, and the contribution he has made,” said Ryder, founder and team principal of NTT Pro Cycling.

The statement also said that Riis and his partners, Jan Bech Andersen and Lars Seier Christensen, along with Ryder, have also discontinued further discussions about a purchase of a part of NTT Pro Cycling.

The Danish company that Riis co-owns, Virtu Cycling, was planning to invest in one third of the shares of the operational company behind NTT Pro Cycling, which was previously known as Team Dimension Data. It has been on the World Tour since 2016.

“I also expect it to be a final farewell to cycling for me personally,” Seier Christensen, the former sponsor of Team Saxo Bank, wrote on Facebook. “After more than 10 years as probably the largest financial support for Danish cycling, I think I have done my part.”

As co-founder and former chief executive of the Internet-based bank in Copenhagen, Seier Christensen was Riis’ longtime financial partner and was, among others, behind the sponsoring of Team Saxo Bank.

In 2007, Riis admitted to using the blood-booster EPO from 1993-98, including during his Tour victory. Riis wasn’t sanctioned because time limits had expired, but he said he no longer considered himself a worthy winner of the Tour.

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.