Kämna wins Giro d’Italia Stage 4, López moves into pink

Giro d'Italia
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ETNA-NICOLOSI, Sicily ⁠— German cyclist Lennard Kamna won Stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia on the slopes of Mount Etna while Juan Pedro Lopez moved into the overall lead as the Italian grand tour returned to home soil.

Kamna, who rides for Bora-Hansgrohe, had time to raise his arms over his head as he crossed the line just ahead of Lopez, who banged his handlebars in frustration.

Both of them had been part of an early breakaway, as was Rein Taaramae, who finished third at the end of the 172-kilometer (107-mile) route from Avola that culminated on the steep climb up the volcano, as the riders faced their first serious test of this year’s race.

“It was a super hard day, especially the last climb. It was really long and really hard,” Kamna said. “I almost thought I lost it when Lopez had more than 30 seconds and I just made it to bridge. Then I tried to recover a little bit for the sprint and it worked out really well.”

It was a second grand tour stage win for the 25-year-old Kamna, who won a stage on the Tour de France two years ago.

Lopez will be able to console himself by taking over the leader’s pink jersey from Mathieu van der Poel, who had worn it since winning the opening stage in Hungary.

The 24-year-old Spanish rider is 39 seconds ahead of Kamna and 58 ahead of Taaramae.

“I’m so happy today for taking the jersey. I don’t believe this moment so I need to enjoy tomorrow, today, and every moment with the jersey,” said Lopez, who rides for Trek-Segafredo.

“I tried to go on the hardest part because there I can make the difference. I tried but Kamna took me in the last 2 or 3 kilometers and we fought for the sprint. I tried to fight for the victory but it was so difficult. But I have the jersey and I’m so happy now.”

Most of the overall contenders crossed the line together although Miguel Angel Lopez – one of the favorites for the stage win and overall victory – pulled out of the Giro after struggling in the hilly opening kilometers of the route with a left hip injury that he sustained earlier in the race.

Tom Dumoulin’s chances of winning a second Giro are all but over. The 2017 champion was dropped on the climb, as was home favorite and two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali, and the Dutch cyclist lost more than six minutes to his rivals.

There was more drama earlier in the day as well, as there were two crashes. Simon Yates was involved in one of them and needed brief treatment but was able to continue.

The stage sparked into life on the approach to Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

Stefano Oldani set off on a long solo attack but he was passed by Lopez with just over 10 kilometers remaining. Kamna made the catch with 2.5 kilometers to go and the duo worked together before the chase to the line.

Lopez made a mistake in the final corner but Kamna admitted that, with the Spaniard guaranteed the maglia rosa, it was almost as if they “had a silent agreement.”

The Giro stays in Sicily for Wednesday’s fifth stage, a 174-kilometer (108-mile) leg from Messina to Catania that features a category two climb shortly before the halfway point.

The Giro finishes on May 29 in Verona.

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.”