Mathieu van der Poel wins Tour of Flanders for 2nd time

106th Ronde van Vlaanderen - Tour des Flandres 2022 - Men's Elite
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OUDENAARDE, Belgium – Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel came out of a four-man sprint to win the Tour of Flanders cobbled classic for the second time.

Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar blew his chances in the race’s finale.

Van der Poel and Pogacar escaped from the group of remaining contenders and rode together for the last 15 kilometers after the Slovenian rider launched a sharp attack in the Oude Kwaremont climb.

Van der Poel was the only one able to follow and the 273-kilometer one-day classic looked set for a two-man sprint.

But the leading duo played a cat and mouse game in the final kilometer as Pogacar waited for an opening that never came, and they were ultimately caught by chasers with some 250 meters left.

Van der Poel then launched his effort and used his greater power to prevail.

Pogacar was boxed behind Frenchman Valentin Madouas and Dutchman Dylan van Baarle in the sprint. He gestured in frustration as he crossed the line in fourth place.

Van Baarle was runner-up ahead of Madouas.

Wout van Aert of Belgium did not compete after testing positive for COVID-19. But Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky gave the local fans something to cheer about by winning the women’s race ahead of former world champion Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands.

Another Dutch rider, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak – a teammate of Kopecky – completed the podium.

A versatile rider, Van der Poel has won titles in many disciplines and wore the Tour de France yellow jersey for six days last year. He is the grandson of the late French rider Raymond Poulidor. Van der Poel won his first Tour of Flanders in 2020.

“It’s incredible, especially, I know where I came from,” said Van der Poel, who recovered from a back injury that forced him to cut short his cyclo-cross season. “It’s a pity for Tadej that he is not on the podium today because he deserved it, he did an amazing ride.”

The Tour of Flanders is one of the “monuments” of cycling – the five most prestigious one-day events in the sport – along with Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro di Lombardia.

First held in 1913, the race is also known as De Ronde. It features multiple short but punishing climbs and is one of the two classics with cobblestone sections along with Paris-Roubaix.

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.