After 2-year wait, Hungary to get Giro d’Italia start

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — The 2022 edition of the Giro d’Italia will start with three stages in Hungary, just as it was scheduled to do last year before the coronavirus pandemic.

Giro organizers made the announcement in Budapest, detailing the first three stages and indicating that the rest of the route will be presented in instalments over the next week. That process will culminate in the unveiling of the final stage – expected to be a time trial to Verona.

The Italian grand tour was due to start in Hungary in 2020 but the pandemic forced organizers to reschedule the race to October and move the start to Sicily.

Under the original plans, the 2020 race was meant to start with a time trial in Budapest but that has now been moved to the second day in a much-revised Grande Partenza (Big Start) schedule. The 2022 Giro will instead get underway with a road stage from Budapest to Visegrad on May 6. The undulating 195-kilometer (121-mile) route will be best suited for sprinters although it does include an uphill finish.

There is also an uphill finish to the individual time trial through Budapest on day two, with peaks of 14% in the first section toward the end of the 9.2-kilometer (5.7-mile) route.

Stage three is another one for the sprinters, on a 201-kilometer (125-mile) leg along Lake Balaton from Kaposvar to Balatonfured.

The Giro will have its first rest day on May 9 as the riders transfer to Italy.

Attila Valter was at the presentation. He became the first Hungarian cyclist to wear the leader’s pink jersey when he moved into the overall lead after the sixth stage of this year’s Giro. He wore the maglia rosa for three days before eventually finishing 14th.

“This year, one of the most exciting things happened to me – I wore the Maglia Rosa,” Valter said. “It’s a feeling you cannot compare to anything else. Next May, all my fellow Hungarians will be able to feel some of this excitement and get much closer to cycling.

“In my eyes it’s the most important sports event ever in my country, and I really wish … that I can start the race, and repeat something really great in 2022 at my home country.”

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

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ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”