Richard Carapaz takes Giro d’Italia lead after frenetic Stage 14

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TURIN, Italy — Race favorite Richard Carapaz claimed the overall lead of the Giro d’Italia in an action-packed Stage 14, which was won by Simon Yates.

Carapaz, the Ecuadorian rider who won the Giro in 2019 then the Olympic gold last year, attacked on the steep climb to Superga with nearly 30 kilometers (19 miles) to go then had to hang on when Jai Hindley, Vincenzo Nibali and Yates caught him on the penultimate ascent to Colle Della Maddalena.

Yates surged on the final small climb to Parco del Nobile and immediately created a gap on Hindley, Carapaz and Nibali.

Yates, the British rider with the BikeExchange-Jayco team, finished 15 seconds ahead of Hindley, Carapaz and Nibali, who all crossed the line together, after nearly four hours.

It was the second victory in this Giro for Yates, who also won the individual time trial in stage two, and his sixth overall at the Italian Grand Tour.

Yates fell out of overall contention during the ninth stage that finished atop the fearsome Blockhaus climb.

“My original plan was to make the breakaway today but it didn’t work that way,” Yates said. “In the final move I had the advantage of not racing for GC (general classification) anymore.”

The 147-kilometer (91-mile) route from Santena to Turin included two ascents of the Superga and Maddalena hills in a challenging two-lap circuit in the second half of the stage, which resembled a single-day classic.

With the temperature soaring to 34 C (93 F) and a frenetic pace right from the start, the overall standings were completely rewritten.

Carapaz, who rides for the powerful Ineos Grenadiers team, leads Hindley by seven seconds, and Joao Almeida was third overall, 30 seconds back.

“Now we’ll try to defend the maglia rosa (pink jersey),” Carapaz said. “I didn’t remember that I also took it on stage 14 three years ago but I’m glad to do it again.”

Juan Pedro Lopez, the Spanish rider who wore the pink jersey for 10 days, was dropped when Carapaz attacked on Superga. He’s ninth, more than four minutes behind.

Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro winner, abandoned midway through the stage after struggling with back pain recently.

In 1949, the Superga hill was the tragic crash site of the plane carrying the entire Torino soccer team.

Stage 15 is a 178-kilometer (111-mile) leg from Rivarolo Canavese to Cogne that features three long climbs, including an uphill finish.

The Giro ends next weekend 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.”