Démare sprints to win Stage 5 of Giro d’Italia, López stays in pink

105th Giro d'Italia 2022 - Stage 5
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MESSINA, Sicily – French cyclist Arnaud Demare won a bunch sprint at the end of Stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia and Juan Pedro Lopez kept hold of the leader’s pink jersey.

Demare, who rides for Groupama-FDJ, edged Fernando Gaviria at the end of the 174-kilometer (108-mile) route from Catania to Messina after sprint favorites Mark Cavendish and Caleb Ewan had been dropped earlier in the day. Giacomo Nizzolo was third.

Demare also struggled on the climb but his team managed to eventually get him back to the peloton.

It was a sixth stage win in the Giro for the 30-year-old Demare but his first win of the year after a difficult start to 2022.

“My victory today means that in cycling we must never give up,” Demare said. “The sprint has been fluid from my point of view, even though it might have appeared chaotic. I’ve been patient before I launched the sprint.

“I lost a fair bit of time up the hill but my teammates have done a great job to bring me back quickly in the downhill. Then we worked hard to maintain Cavendish and Ewan behind.”

Most of the overall contenders crossed the line together. Lopez maintained his 39-second advantage over Lennard Kamna after moving into the overall lead on Tuesday. Rein Taaramae was third, 58 seconds behind Lopez.

“I don’t believe the moment, it’s the first day of my life with the maglia rosa,” Lopez said. “A lot of riders say to me, `Congratulations, enjoy, enjoy the day, enjoy the moment,’ and for sure I enjoy the moment because it’s one of the best days of my life.”

Meanwhile, one of the outside favorites, two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali, announced he will retire from the sport at the end of the year. An emotional Nibali, who is one of only seven riders in history to have won all three grand tours, made the announcement after arriving in his hometown.

The 37-year-old Nibali is nicknamed “The Shark of Messina.”

Five riders escaped early in the day but they were caught after 100 kilometers (62 miles). The main drama happened on the only climb of the day, a second-category ascent up to Portella Mandrazi.

With Cavendish and Ewan dropped, the peloton upped the pace and they were unable to catch up.

Cavendish’s Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team put in a solid effort but the high speed of the peloton eventually forced them to give up hope of closing the gap.

Cavendish and Ewan crossed the line almost 12 minutes behind the sprint.

The day finished earlier than most to allow the teams to take the ferry to the Italian mainland for Thursday’s sixth stage from Palmi to Scalea, along a mainly flat 192-kilometer (119-mile) route with a fourth-category climb early in the stage.

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.