Wout Van Aert beats the pure sprinters to win Tirreno opener

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LIDO DI CAMAIORE, Italy — Belgian rider Wout van Aert timed his acceleration perfectly to beat the pure sprinters and win the first stage of the weeklong Tirreno-Adriatico in a mass finish.

Van Aert started his sprint with about 200 meters (yards) to go and narrowly held off Caleb Ewan of Australia and Fernando Gaviria of Colombia, who crossed with the same time.

“I didn’t really expect to win today in such a fast sprint against Caleb Ewan,” Van Aert said. “I was thinking of taking some time bonuses.”

He earned enough time bonuses along the stage to take a four-second lead over Ewan in the overall standings, while Gaviria was six seconds back.

The 156-kilometer (97-mile) stage began and ended in Lido di Camaiore on the Tuscan coast. It featured an arrow-straight 8.5-kilometer (5-mile) finish along the seaside.

“The final straight was really long, so today it was all about the right timing,” Van Aert said. “I had high speed and so when I saw the 200-meter sign and maybe a bit before, I thought not to wait and I launched my sprint. I had the speed to maintain it to the finish.”

Unlike Ewan and Gaviria, Van Aert can also hold his own in climbing stages and is aiming for overall victory. He won the Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo classic last year and posted three stage victories in the Tour de France over the past two years. He’s also a three-time world champion in cyclo-cross.

“Starting with a win is perfect for the GC,” Van Aert said. “We’ll see what the next stages bring but we’ve already achieved one goal today.”

Van Aert, who rides for the Jumbo-Visma team, required just over 3 + hours to complete the stage.

Stage 2 is a more challenging 202-kilometer (126-mile) leg from Camaiore to Chiusdino featuring an uphill finish.

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.