Giro d’Italia organizers outline 6 mountain stages for next year

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MILAN — Next year’s Giro d’Italia will feature tough ascents up Mount Etna, the Blockhaus, the Mortirolo and Santa Cristina.

The six mountain stages of the 2022 Giro were revealed as race organizers continued their staggered presentation of the route.

In a break with tradition, race organizer RCS Sport has decided to release details of the Giro in instalments, starting with the seven stages best suited for sprinters on Monday, and the six hilly legs the following day.

It is in the mountains that the overall winner of the Giro should be decided, however.

“With these six high mountain stages it is clear that the 2022 Giro d’Italia will be another tough one,” reigning champion Egan Bernal said. “The first uphill finish on Etna will be important and could really cut out from the GC those who are not at 100% on form for the first week of the race.

“Then there will be the mythical climbs like the Mortirolo, where great champions have written important chapters in cycling history.”

The Giro starts on May 6 with three stages in Hungary before the first rest day for the transfer back to Italy. Riders are expected to face their first serious test on stage four as it culminates in the ascent up Etna.

There are three more mountain top finishes, including the Blockhaus, where the stage finale features double-digit gradients along a series of hairpin bends leading to the line. There is a double assault of the Blockhaus in the 187-kilometer (116-mile) stage that includes almost 5,000 meters (16,404 feet) of climbing.

There is even more climbing in the Giro’s traditional wine stage. The 200-kilometer (124-mile) leg from Salo to Aprica packs in 5,400 meters (17,717 feet) as it ascends the Goletto di Cadino as well as the Mortirolo and Santa Cristina.

Another stage that has been given five stars – the highest difficulty rating – is the final mountain stage. The 167-kilometer (104-mile) route from Belluno features the last uphill finish and the race’s final three climbs: the the Passo San Pellegrino , the Passo Pordoi – which is the race’s highest point – and the final Passo Fedaia to the foot of the Marmolada glacier.

That should come on the penultimate day of the Giro before what is expected to be the finish of a time trial to Verona on May 29.

Details of the finale will be announced on Thursday, when the route will be revealed in full and RCS Sport will confirm precisely when all the stages will take place.

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.”