Mathieu Van der Poel masters the gravel roads to win Strade Bianche

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SIENA, Italy — Mathieu van der Poel’s many talents across multiple disciplines came in handy when he won the Strade Bianche ahead of a stellar field.

Having already accelerated on the last of 11 sections of white, gravel roads to winnow the lead group down to three, the Dutch champion left behind world champion Julian Alaphilippe and 2019 Tour de France champion Egan Bernal on the short but steep finishing climb to Siena’s Piazza del Campo on a stretch of cobblestones where the gradient reached a leg-breaking 16%.

Van der Poel had time to unleash a series of fist pumps as he crossed the line in the piazza, which was empty of fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alaphilippe crossed second, five seconds behind, and Bernal came third, 20 seconds back.

Van der Poel, who rides for the Alpecin-Fenix team, required 4 hours, 40 minutes to complete the 184-kilometer (114-mile) route, which also began in Siena.

Having won last year’s Tour of Flanders, this was another big road race victory for Van der Poel, who also has multiple titles in cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing.

“This is one of the races I was really focusing on this year,” Val der Poel said. “I had really good legs and I made the difference where I wanted to.”

Last year’s winner Wout van Aert finished fourth and last year’s Tour de France champion, Tadej Pogacar, came seventh.

The 136-kilometer (85-mile) women’s race had a similar finish and a Dutch winner, too.

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, the 2017 world champion, attacked to leave behind Olympic bronze medalist Elise Longo Borghini on the finishing climb up Via Santa Caterina.

Longo Borghini finished seven seconds behind and Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen came third, nine seconds back.

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.