Démare wins Giro d’Italia Stage 6 in photo finish, López keeps lead

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SCALEA, Italy — French cyclist Arnaud Demare beat Caleb Ewan in a photo finish to win a second successive Giro d’Italia stage, while Juan Pedro Lopez kept hold of the leader’s pink jersey after the race’s sixth leg.

In a contest between three of cycling’s very best sprinters, Demare was behind both Ewan and Mark Cavendish as they approached the finish. But Demare used the slip stream behind Ewan to perfection to pull alongside his rival just before the line and then threw himself forward to edge his rival by the smallest of margins. Cavendish was about half a bike length behind in third.

None of them celebrated immediately after crossing the line, unsure who had got the victory. Cavendish was talking to Demare when the results were confirmed and hugged the Groupama-FDJ rider.

“It was very tight. I had the feeling that I had won but it was hot so I waited for the photo finish,” Demare said. “A win is sometimes decided by very little. … I only had 100 meters to overhaul Cavendish. I threw my bike on the line and it made the difference.”

It was a seventh Giro stage win for Demare, more than any other Frenchman.

“Many people underestimate me but it’s my 86th (career) victory today, my seventh at the Giro d’Italia. It counts. It’s wonderful,” he added.

Most of the overall contenders crossed the line safely in the peloton at the end of the flat 192-kilometer (119-mile) route from Palmi to Scalea as the race moved to the Italian mainland following three stages in Hungary and two in Sicily.

Lopez maintained his 39-second advantage over Lennard Kamna. Rein Taaramae was third, 58 seconds behind Lopez.

“I don’t know why it was so slow today but for sure I enjoyed the day,” Lopez said. “For sure tomorrow is a more hard stage but we’re ready with the team to defend the maglia rosa (pink jersey).”

There was little action for most of the stage, with the peloton cruising at a slower pace than even the lowest estimates of the race organizers.

Diego Rosa was the lone breakaway rider for almost four hours although he knew he had almost no chance to get the win. Rosa rides for Eolo-Kometa, which is the second-division Italian team run by Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso.

The slow pace in the peloton and the lack of eagerness for a breakaway could be partly explained by what awaits the riders in Stage 7, a day of almost continuous climbing and descending.

There are hardly any flat sections on the 196-kilometer (122-mile) route from Diamante to Potenza and four categorized climbs.

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.