Remco Evenepoel wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 1st attempt

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LIEGE, Belgium — Cycling rising star Remco Evenepoel posted the biggest win of his career with a solo victory in cycling’s oldest classic – the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race – as Belgian riders swept the podium places.

A versatile rider widely regarded as one of the most promising talents of his generation, Evenepoel triumphed in “La Doyenne” at his first attempt, aged 22.

Evenepoel, who recovered from an horrific crash at the 2020 Tour of Lombardy, raised his arms and buried his face in his hands as he added his name to a list of winners that includes the likes of cycling greats Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.

“It’s my first Liege and I won, it’s a dream come true,” said Evenepoel, who rides for the Belgian outfit Quick-Step-Alpha-Vinyl. “Finishing alone, with a lead of almost one minute in my favorite race, it’s unbelievable.”

Quinten Hermans won the sprint for second place ahead of Wout van Aert.

Evenepoel made his move with 29 kilometers left when he attacked on a narrow and steep stretch of road from a chasing group including other pre-race favorites.

Using his strong time-trial skills, Evenepoel produced an impressive solo effort to catch the remaining breakaway riders then reached the finish line alone.

Evenepoel came to prominence during his first pro season with the Deceuninck-Quick Step team in 2019 when he won the prestigious Clasica San Sebastian ahead of Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet. He also secured a silver medal in the time trial at the world championships that year.

His career was put on hold for several months following a crash in Italy that left him with a fractured pelvis and a damaged right lung. Evenepoel crashed inside the last 50 kilometers on a downhill stretch, hitting a bridge wall and going over it into a ravine.

“I’ve been suffering mentally and physically a lot the last year and a half and finally this year, I feel that everything is going well, everything is getting stable and I’m getting to the best Remco again,” Evenepoel said. “I think today I’ve been showing the best Remco since turning pro.”

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

Tadej Pogacar was a among the favorites but did not defend his title after withdrawing for personal reasons. World champion Julian Alaphilippe was forced to abandon the race after getting caught in a mass crash with about 60 kilometers left.

Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands won the women’s race for the second time after going solo in the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons. She won ahead of Grace Brown and Demi Vollering.

“It’s like good wine, the strength comes with age,” said the former world champion, who is 39.

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.