Vendrame claims 1st Grand Tour stage win, Bernal keeps Giro d’Italia lead

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BAGNO DI ROMAGNA, Italy — Italian cyclist Andrea Vendrame held off the rest of the breakaway pack to win the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia for his first victory in a Grand Tour and Egan Bernal kept the leader’s pink jersey.

Vendrame, who rides for AG2R Citroen, edged out Chris Hamilton in a sprint at the end of the 212-kilometer (132-mile) route from Siena to Bagno di Romagna that featured four categorized climbs.

“What an incredible feeling. I can’t even speak or find the right words to describe how I feel now,” the 26-year-old Vendrame said. “After a difficult period where I had an injury, this win at the Giro is something indescribable.”

There was also a sprint for third, with Gianluca Brambilla narrowly beating George Bennett, but only after a late swerve that left Bennett throwing up a hand in frustration. Brambilla was later relegated to fourth.

The duo finished 15 seconds behind Vendrame.

All four had been part of a large breakaway.

Bernal crossed the line in the peloton to maintain his 45-second lead over Aleksandr Vlasov. Nobody else is within a minute of the 2019 Tour de France winner, with third-place Damiano Caruso 1:12 behind.

Vincenzo Nibali attacked over the top of the final climb and finished seven seconds ahead of the peloton. The two-time Giro winner is still more than four minutes behind Bernal.

The 13th stage is an entirely flat 198-kilometer (123-mile) route from Ravenna to Verona that pays tribute to writer and philosopher Dante Alighieri on the 700th anniversary of his death. It will also give the riders a break before hitting the high mountains the following day.

“It was a really hard day for everyone so we are happy because we have finished well, but it was a really tough stage,” Bernal said. “It’s a Grand Tour, and for the GC guys there is no easy stage, you know, we need to go for every day. So for tomorrow we need to be really focused.”

A number of riders abandoned the race during the stage. Marc Soler and Alessandro De Marchi crashed in separate incidents, while Gino Mader, Kobe Goossens, Faisto Masnada and Alex Dowsett all retired due to illness and injury.

Soler tried to continue before eventually conceding. De Marchi was taken away in an ambulance.

“Dema was taken to hospital and was diagnosed with a broken right collarbone and six broken ribs,” said De Marchi’s team Israel Start-Up Nation. “He also broke his first and second thoracic vertebra.

“He did not suffer any head injury, but does have to stay in the hospital for at least one night.”

The Giro finishes on May 30 in Milan with an individual time trial.

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.