De Gendt wins Giro d’Italia Stage 8, López keeps overall lead

105th Giro d'Italia 2022 - Stage 8
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NAPLES, Italy – A decade after his first Giro d’Italia stage win, Belgian cyclist Thomas De Gendt claimed his second during Stage 8, as Juan Pedro Lopez kept the pink jersey.

De Gendt was helped by Lotto-Soudal teammate Harm Vanhoucke and edged out Davide Gabburo and Jorge Arcas in the sprint at the end of an undulating 153-kilometer (95-mile) route that started and finished in the seaside city of Naples.

The 35-year-old De Gendt sat up and pumped his fist in celebration as he crossed the line.

“I was working for Harm that he could attack on the climb but he said he didn’t have good legs anymore so I said the last three kilometers to him, `You ride full and I’m sure I will win the sprint, I’m sure.’ And he did it perfectly until 300 meters to go, so I have to thank Harm a lot,” De Gendt said.

“Today was one of those days that suits me . but if you’d asked me two weeks ago if I was able to win a stage in the Giro I would have said no because I was in so bad shape, and now the good legs are coming.”

All four riders were part of a 21-man breakaway that got away in a fast start, driven by Mathieu Van Der Poel, who was keen for the stage win.

The route took in four laps of a 19-kilometer (12-mile) circuit in the volcanic surrounding area.

It was on the penultimate lap that Van Der Poel tried to attack, but he was caught by other riders from the breakaway. Shortly after, the quartet that contested the final sprint managed to get clear with 40 kilometers remaining.

Most of the overall contenders crossed the line together, about 3 1/2 minutes behind De Gendt.

Lopez maintained his 38-second advantage over Lennard Kamna after moving into the overall lead on Tuesday. Rein Taaramae was third, 58 seconds behind Lopez.

Kamna tried to attack from the peloton but was swiftly reeled in by Lopez and his Trek-Segafredo teammates.

“In the team meeting in the morning we spoke about if Kamna attacks I try to follow. When he attacked I followed him, I stayed in his wheel, and nothing,” Lopez said.

“I have a really, really good team. My teammates, my staff, everybody made my day. My teammates they did the 100% and we stay another day in pink.”

Sunday’s ninth stage is one of the toughest in this year’s race. The 191-kilometer (119-mile) route from Isernia finishes atop the fearsome Blockhaus, with double-digit gradients along a series of hairpin bends leading to the line.

There are also three other categorised climbs on a day that includes 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) of climbing and a start that some team directors have called the toughest ever start to a grand tour stage.

The Giro finishes on May 29 in Verona.

Primoz Roglic triumphs at Tirreno-Adriatico for winning return from injury

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SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy — Primož Roglič made a winning return to cycling as he triumphed at the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico for a fourth Slovenian victory in five editions at “The Race of the Two Seas.”

It was Roglič’s first race of the season after the Jumbo-Visma rider underwent shoulder surgery last year.

“It’s just nice to come back to racing this way. I really enjoyed the whole week,” Roglič said. “My teammates were super strong.

“One week ago I was just expecting to suffer. It’s even better to win when it’s unexpected. It feels good ahead of the Giro d’Italia too.”

After winning the previous three stages to build up a significant advantage, Roglič protected his lead and finished safely in the peloton during Stage 7 to end the week-long race 18 seconds ahead of João Almeida of Portugal and 23 seconds ahead of British cyclist Tao Geoghegan Hart.

Roglič won the Tirreno in 2019. Fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogačar won the two previous editions but the two-time defending champion was competing at the Paris-Nice race which he won.

Belgian cyclist Jasper Philipsen won a bunch sprint to take the stage win. The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider edged out Dylan Groenewegen and Alberto Dainese.

It was Philipsen’s second sprint victory at this year’s Tirreno, setting him up as one of the favorites for next weekend’s Milan-San Remo race.

“I was dying in the end, my legs felt really painful, but I’m happy that I could keep it to the finish,” Philipsen said.

“The sprint stage is always different from a classic like San Remo but of course we have some confidence. We have a strong team I think. So now it’s good to take some time off, recover a little bit and try to be on top level.”

There was an early breakaway in the 154-kilometer (96-mile) route that started and finished in San Benedetto del Tronto but the eight riders were caught with just over 3 kilometers (2 miles) remaining.

Pogacar tops Gaudu, Vingegaard to win Paris-Nice


NICE, France — An impressive Tadej Pogacar clinched the final stage with a solo escape to win the week-long Paris-Nice.

David Gaudu finished second overall, 53 seconds behind Pogacar, while Jonas Vingegaard was third at 1 minute, 39 seconds back.

Pogacar attacked during the climb of Col d’Eze with 18 kilometers (11.2 miles) to go, finishing the eighth stage 33 seconds ahead of a small group made up of Vingegaard, Gaudu, Simon Yates and Matteo Jorgenson.

The Slovenian rider completed the 118-kilometer trek around Nice in 2 hours, 51 minutes, 2 seconds, crossing the finish line with both arms raised before taking a bow in front of the crowd and clapping his hands.

Pogacar now has a slight mental edge over Vingegaard, also outclassing him last October to win the Tour of Lombardy.

The duel between Pogacar and Vingegaard has become one of the biggest rivalries in cycling. Vingegaard finished second behind Pogacar in the 2021 Tour de France. But the Danish rider managed to beat Pogacar in the 2022 Tour de France for his first major title.

Vingegaard still has time to hit peak form. The Tour de France starts July 1.

Pogacar is the current leader in the UCI men’s road racing world rankings.

Pogacar and Vingegaard both started the season well. Last month in Spain, Pogacar won the Tour of Andalucia while Vingegaard won the O Gran Camino. Pogacar took the yellow jersey by winning the fourth stage. He dumped Vingegaard in the climb of La Loge des Gardes. Only Gaudu could stay on Pogacar’s wheel.

The two-time Tour de France winner extended his overall lead by taking Stage 7, beating Gaudu and Vingegaard in a small sprint atop Col de la Couillole.

French rider Gaudu finished fourth overall in the 2022 Tour de France but failed to finish in the past two editions of Paris-Nice.

The next race on the UCI World Tour is the Milan-San Remo classic on March 18.