Cavendish wins Stage 3 to mark Giro d’Italia return, Van der Poel keeps lead

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BALATONFURED, Hungary — Mark Cavendish marked his return to the Giro d’Italia by winning a bunch sprint at the end of Stage 3 while Mathieu van der Poel kept hold of the pink jersey.

Cavendish, who rides for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, raised his arms over his head and beamed broadly after crossing the line just ahead of Arnaud Demare and Fernando Gaviria.

It was a 16th stage win in the Giro for the 36-year-old Cavendish, who hasn’t ridden the Italian race in nine years.

It was also a 53rd win in the three grand tours for the sprint superstar from the Isle of Man, inching him closer to Mario Cipollini, who is second in the table of stage winners on 57. Eddy Merckx won 64 stages.

“I just want to carry on winning, it doesn’t matter how many, I just love racing my bike, I love being with my mates and I’d like to win some more,” said Cavendish, who turns 37 during the Giro.

There was little change in the overall standings at the end of the flat 201-kilometer (125-mile) route along Lake Balaton from Kaposvar to Balatonfured. Most of the general classification contenders crossed the line with the same time after a slow and unremarkable day in the saddle.

Dutch cyclist Van der Poel remained 11 seconds ahead of Simon Yates and 16 ahead of 2017 Giro winner Tom Dumoulin.

It was the last of three stages in Hungary and the race has its first rest day on Monday as the riders transfer to the Italian island of Sicily.

“We did a very nice job as a team,” Van der Poel said. “We knew Cavendish was one of the favorites for today. After the Tour de France last year I think we all know he can win stages again.

“I’m happy to bring the maglia rosa to Italy. It’s been an amazing past few days here in Hungary and I’m going to enjoy it in Italy as well.”

Three riders escaped shortly after the start. Italians Mattia Bias, Filippo Tagliani and Samuele Rivi easily built a lead and their advantage hovered around the three-minute mark for most of the day.

They were caught with a little under 30 kilometers (19 miles) remaining as the teams in the peloton began setting up their riders for the sprint.

With the main contenders jostling for position, Cavendish had to launch his sprint early but “The Manx Missile” managed to hold off his rivals.

“I’m very happy. It’s nice to win. I wanted to do good in the first sprint,” Cavendish said. “I have an incredible group, I’ve said that before the race, and they delivered today.

“I had to go long, I had to go with 300 to go. I’m happy I could hang on that long for the win.”

The riders face their first serious test as Stage 4 culminates in a category-one climb up Mount Etna after a 172-kilometer (107-mile) route from Avola.

The Giro finishes on May 29 in Verona.

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.