Storer wins Vuelta seventh stage, Roglic keeps lead in mountains


BALCON DE ALICANTE, Spain – Michael Storer won the punishing seventh stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Friday, and Primoz Roglic kept the overall lead after the race’s most serious test in the mountains so far.

Storer, an Australian rider for DSM, claimed his biggest professional win after finishing the stage in 4 hours, 10 minutes, 13 seconds. He dropped Carlos Verona, who came in second at 21 seconds behind Storer, over the final grueling uphill kilometer.

Storer was part of a large breakaway early in the 152-kilometer (94-mile) stage starting in Gandia that took riders up and over five mountain climbs before a summit finish atop the category-one Balcon de Alicante.

“This was my goal, to win a stage at a race,” Storer said. “I am going to have to set a new goal now.”

Roglic, the defending two-time race winner, appeared to be in danger of losing the lead to one of the breakaway riders. But he managed to hang onto the red jersey despite finishing 16th at more than 3 1/2 minutes behind Storer.

Well protected by his Jumbo-Visma team, Roglic only had to respond once to an attack that included title hopeful and Olympic gold medalist Richard Carapaz. Midway through the stage, Roglic latched onto the wheel of Carapaz.

“For me it was super hot and we went already on the first climb all out,” Roglic said. “Then for me it was just waiting to come over the finish. We saw quite some action so in the next days we can expect more attacks.”

Felix Grossschartner of Bora-Hansgrohe moved into second place in the general classification at eight seconds behind Roglic. Movistar leader Enric Mas is third at :25 back. Egan Bernal trails by 41 seconds and his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Carapaz is 2:48 back.

Hugh Carthy, who finished the race third overall last year, withdrew during the day.

Former Vuelta winner Alejandro Valverde also bowed out after crashing on a descent. The Spanish veteran tried to continue but called it quits minutes later.

Saturday’s stage stays in Spain’s hot southeast for a 173-kilometer (107-mile) flat trek from Santa Pola to La Manga del Mar Menor that is made for sprinters.

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.