Mohoric posts first Tour stage win, Roglic out of contention

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LE CREUSOT, France – Matej Mohoric posted his first stage win in the Tour de France on Friday following a long breakaway in the race’s longest stage.

The 249-kilometer (155-mile) hilly trek from Vierzon to Le Creusot in the seventh stage was the longest in 21 years.

Mohoric was part of a group that formed more than 200 kilometers before the finish line. He went solo in the stage’s finale, using a tough climb to drop his remaining breakaway companions and reach the finish line in Le Creusot alone.

Mathieu van der Poel looked exhausted when he crossed 1 minute, 40 seconds behind. He kept the race leader’s yellow jersey with a 30-second advantage over Wout van Aert,

“It was 250 kilometers full gas,” Van der Poel said. “It went really fast and we managed to break away with a really strong group, it was really hard. I went to the limit to keep this jersey, which is really special.”

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar could not get into the breakaway and rode at the back with several other top contenders. Pogacar lost more than five minutes and dropped to fifth overall, 3:43 off the pace.

The day’s biggest loser was last year’s runner-up, Primoz Roglic, who crashed earlier in the race. Roglic did not recover and struggled in the climb on Friday. He managed to get to the finish with a deficit exceeding nine minutes and his hopes of winning the three-week race are effectively over.

Roglic will now likely abandon the Jumbo-Visma leadership and work in support of Van Aert.

Mohoric, who rides for the Bahrain Victorious team, has now posted stage wins at all three Grand Tours. He seized the best climber’s polka-dot jersey.

The strong headwind made it difficult for riders on the attack to jump out of the pack in the early stages. After many unsuccessful attempts, a group of 29 competitors including Van der Poel and Van Aert managed to break away.

Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates teammates were caught off guard. When they finally moved to the front of the peloton to organize the chase, it was already too late. They tried to set up a sustained tempo but were left to do all the work as rival teams did not move.

The leading group collaborated well and quickly built a one-minute lead. Van der Poel took long turns at the front of a bunch which included former Grand Tours champions – Vincenzo Nibali and Simon Yates – and 10 former Tour stage winners. They rode at an impressive average speed of more than 51 kph in the first hour of racing and the time gap gradually increased to reach more than 6:30 with 90 kilometers left.

Behind them, the peloton upped the pace with more teams working at the front and the gap started to decrease when Mohoric and Brent Van Moer dropped their breakaway companions.

With 78 kilometers to go, the pair created a consistent gap as previously effective cooperation in the group including Van Aert and Van der Poel made way for a series of disorganized attacks. Mahoric went solo in the tough climb of the Signal d’Uchon, an ascent with an average gradient of 11.5% in its last 1,500 meters.

The Slovenian rider crossed first at the top and prolonged his impressive effort until the finish line.

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.