Alpe d’Huez and cobblestones return for 2022 Tour de France

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PARIS — Next year’s Tour de France will see the return of the Paris-Roubaix cobblestones and take the peloton to the summit of the famed Alpe d’Huez mountain.

Designed for complete riders such as two-time champion Tadej Pogacar, the route features two individual time trials and six mountain stages with five summit finishes.

Race organizers unveiled the route in Paris on in the presence of Pogacar and two-time world champion Julian Alaphilippe, marking the return of the traditional ceremony that was scrapped last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The women’s race will take place from July 24-31 and feature eight stages. It will start from the Eiffel Tower in Paris and head towards eastern France, with a prestigious finish at the Planche des Belles Filles, a classic stage of the men’s Tour in the Vosges mountains.

Back on the calendar next year, the Tour de France Femmes aims to become a permanent fixture on the women’s world tour after various failed attempts. A women’s Tour stage race took place from 1984-89, parallel with the men’s race before later being shortened.

The three-week men’s race will start from Copenhagen after a one-year delay because of the rescheduling of European Championship soccer matches in the Danish capital to last year.

The opening stage, a 13-kilometer time trial, will take place on July 1 and will be followed by two more stages on roads exposed to winds in the Nordic country before a transfer to the north of France.

A mouth-watering Stage 5 will tackle the treacherous Paris-Roubaix cobblestones, which are back on the program after a four-year absence. The race will then head to the Vosges for a mountaintop finish at the Planche des Belles Filles, where the first battle between overall contenders is expected to unfold.

The Planche has become a classic of the Tour de France in recent years with its brutal finish. This is where Pogacar sealed the first of his wins in 2020 when he snatched the yellow jersey in a high-drama time trial on the eve of the race finish.

“There are a couple of opportunities for punchy riders,” Alaphilippe said. “What I can already tell you is that the echelons and cobblestones will make for a nice and spectacular first week.”

The peloton will visit the Swiss city of Lausanne before tackling the Alps. There, two summit finishes – the col du Granon at 2,413 metres above sea level, then l’Alpe d’Huez and its 21 hairpin bends – will prove a tough challenge for the peloton. The last time Tour riders climbed l’Alpe d’Huez was in 2018.

“We felt such a demand to come back there,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme told L’Equipe newspaper. “From the resort itself, which systematically wrote us these past few years to bid. And from the public, which is very attached to these emblematic climbs.”

The crossing of the Pyrenees will offer no breathing space with daunting stages to Peyragudes and Hautacam. The final rankings will be decided on the eve of the final stage to the Champs Elysees, during a 40-kilometer time trial to the picturesque clifftop village of Rocamadour.

There will be a few opportunities for sprinters to shine, with six flat stages scattered across the 3,328-kilometer route, including one to the medieval city of Carcassone, where Mark Cavendish equaled Eddy Merckx’s all-time record of 34 Tour stage wins this year.

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.