Cort Nielsen wins Vuelta Stage 6, Roglic reclaims lead


ALTO DE LA MONTANA DE CULLERA, Spain — Magnus Cort Nielsen won the sixth stage of the Spanish Vuelta after holding off a hard-charging Primoz Roglic, who took back the red leader’s shirt with his second-place finish.

Cort Nielsen was part of an early five-man breakaway on the mostly flat 158.3-kilometer (98.3-mile) ride along Spain’s eastern coast. The Danish sider for EF Education had just enough left to cross the finish line first ahead of Roglic at the top of a short but steep ascent near the Cullera Castle overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

It was the fourth stage win at the Spanish Grand Tour for Cort Nielsen, who also has a stage win at the Tour de France.

“It was very close in the end,” the Dane said. “I looked back with 150 meters to go and could see Roglic was coming. I was sprinting with everything I had and luckily I could keep him behind me.”

Roglic, the two-time defending Vuelta champion, reclaimed the race lead that he had held for the first two stages.

Kenny Ellisonde lost the lead he held for one day after he struggled throughout the final stretches of the stage.

Crosswinds whipping across rice fields over the final 30 kilometers broke the peloton into groups as it wound its way through narrow tracks. Ellisonde was caught behind and had to work hard with his Trek-Segafredo team to catch up to the head of the peloton, only for him to fade again in the final two-kilometer (1.2-mile) ascent.

Roglic, the Jumbo-Visma leader, is followed in the general classification by three Movistar riders: Eric Mas is 25 seconds behind, closely followed by teammates Miguel Angel Lopez and Alejandro Valverde. Former Tour winner Egan Bernal of Ineos is 41 second off the pace.

On Friday, riders will face a mountainous 152 kilometers (94 miles) from Gandia to a first-category summit finish at Balcon de Alicante.

Primoz Roglic triumphs at Tirreno-Adriatico for winning return from injury

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SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy — Primož Roglič made a winning return to cycling as he triumphed at the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico for a fourth Slovenian victory in five editions at “The Race of the Two Seas.”

It was Roglič’s first race of the season after the Jumbo-Visma rider underwent shoulder surgery last year.

“It’s just nice to come back to racing this way. I really enjoyed the whole week,” Roglič said. “My teammates were super strong.

“One week ago I was just expecting to suffer. It’s even better to win when it’s unexpected. It feels good ahead of the Giro d’Italia too.”

After winning the previous three stages to build up a significant advantage, Roglič protected his lead and finished safely in the peloton during Stage 7 to end the week-long race 18 seconds ahead of João Almeida of Portugal and 23 seconds ahead of British cyclist Tao Geoghegan Hart.

Roglič won the Tirreno in 2019. Fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogačar won the two previous editions but the two-time defending champion was competing at the Paris-Nice race which he won.

Belgian cyclist Jasper Philipsen won a bunch sprint to take the stage win. The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider edged out Dylan Groenewegen and Alberto Dainese.

It was Philipsen’s second sprint victory at this year’s Tirreno, setting him up as one of the favorites for next weekend’s Milan-San Remo race.

“I was dying in the end, my legs felt really painful, but I’m happy that I could keep it to the finish,” Philipsen said.

“The sprint stage is always different from a classic like San Remo but of course we have some confidence. We have a strong team I think. So now it’s good to take some time off, recover a little bit and try to be on top level.”

There was an early breakaway in the 154-kilometer (96-mile) route that started and finished in San Benedetto del Tronto but the eight riders were caught with just over 3 kilometers (2 miles) remaining.

Pogacar tops Gaudu, Vingegaard to win Paris-Nice


NICE, France — An impressive Tadej Pogacar clinched the final stage with a solo escape to win the week-long Paris-Nice.

David Gaudu finished second overall, 53 seconds behind Pogacar, while Jonas Vingegaard was third at 1 minute, 39 seconds back.

Pogacar attacked during the climb of Col d’Eze with 18 kilometers (11.2 miles) to go, finishing the eighth stage 33 seconds ahead of a small group made up of Vingegaard, Gaudu, Simon Yates and Matteo Jorgenson.

The Slovenian rider completed the 118-kilometer trek around Nice in 2 hours, 51 minutes, 2 seconds, crossing the finish line with both arms raised before taking a bow in front of the crowd and clapping his hands.

Pogacar now has a slight mental edge over Vingegaard, also outclassing him last October to win the Tour of Lombardy.

The duel between Pogacar and Vingegaard has become one of the biggest rivalries in cycling. Vingegaard finished second behind Pogacar in the 2021 Tour de France. But the Danish rider managed to beat Pogacar in the 2022 Tour de France for his first major title.

Vingegaard still has time to hit peak form. The Tour de France starts July 1.

Pogacar is the current leader in the UCI men’s road racing world rankings.

Pogacar and Vingegaard both started the season well. Last month in Spain, Pogacar won the Tour of Andalucia while Vingegaard won the O Gran Camino. Pogacar took the yellow jersey by winning the fourth stage. He dumped Vingegaard in the climb of La Loge des Gardes. Only Gaudu could stay on Pogacar’s wheel.

The two-time Tour de France winner extended his overall lead by taking Stage 7, beating Gaudu and Vingegaard in a small sprint atop Col de la Couillole.

French rider Gaudu finished fourth overall in the 2022 Tour de France but failed to finish in the past two editions of Paris-Nice.

The next race on the UCI World Tour is the Milan-San Remo classic on March 18.