Bouwman gets 1st grand tour stage win, López keeps Giro d’Italia lead

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POTENZA, Italy — Dutch cyclist Koen Bouwman claimed a first grand tour stage victory after winning a tough Stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia, as Juan Pedro Lopez kept hold of the pink jersey.

Bouwman was given a great leadout by Team Jumbo-Visma teammate – and 2017 Giro winner – Tom Dumoulin and sprinted to the line to edge out Bauke Mollema and Davide Formolo by two seconds as the Giro tackled its first mountain range, the Apennines.

It was only a second ever victory for Bouwman, who won a stage in the Criterium du Dauphine in 2017.

“Unbelievable, like my first victory in the Dauphine, I can’t believe it,” he said. “It was such a hard day actually, and in the final we were four guys with two of us, and Tom did a superb job in the last 2k.”

Bouwman had time to look behind and raise his arms over his head as he crossed the finish line of the 196-kilometer (122-mile) route from Diamante to Potenza that included four categorized climbs and almost zero flat sections.

All four had been part of a seven-man breakaway that managed to get away on the second categorized climb, the top classified ascent up Monte Sirino.

“I was feeling quite good the whole day,” Bouwman said. “One time on the climb I had a bit of trouble. It was steeper than I thought but when I started my sprint I felt so much power left. I knew I was getting close to the victory and at 150 meters I looked behind and I had a big gap so, yeah, perfect.”

Most of the overall contenders crossed the line together, nearly three minutes behind Bouwman. Lopez maintained his 38-second advantage over Lennard Kamna after moving into the overall lead. Rein Taaramae was third, 58 seconds behind Lopez.

Stage 8 sees the Giro return to Naples for the first time since 2013 when the city hosted the start of the Italian grand tour. The undulating 153-kilometer (95-mile) stage starts and finishes in Naples, but it leaves the seaside city to take in four laps of a 19-kilometer (12-mile) circuit in the volcanic surrounding area.

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.”