Richard Carapaz shakes off early crash to keep Giro d’Italia lead in Stage 15

105th Giro d'Italia 2022 - Stage 15
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COGNE, Italy – Escorted up three long climbs by his powerful Ineos Grenadiers team, Richard Carapaz shook off an early crash to hold onto the Giro d’Italia overall lead during his first day wearing the pink jersey.

Italian rider Giulio Ciccone got into an early breakaway then launched a solo attack on the finishing climb to win Stage 15.

Carapaz, the Ecuadorian who took the lead a day earlier, remained seven seconds ahead of Jai Hindley and 30 seconds ahead of Joao Almeida.

Carapaz, the 2019 Giro champion and an Olympic gold medalist last year, was involved in a mass crash early on when he fell off of his bike onto the grass lining a flat road.

Carapaz said there was “no consequence at all” from the crash.

“I just had to change bikes,” he said. “Then it went smoothly. The scenario of the race was pretty good. The first part was hard. Then we had it under control.”

For his third career Giro victory after also winning stages in 2016 and 2019, Ciccone was cheered on by large crowds lining the cobblestoned streets in the finale. As is his tradition, Ciccone – who wore the yellow jersey for two stages during the 2019 Tour de France – threw his sunglasses into the crowd just before crossing the finish line.

“This is my most beautiful win. It’s better than the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, better than my first wins at the Giro because I went through difficult times in the past two years, with crashes, illnesses and COVID,” Ciccone said.

Ciccone, who rides for the Trek-Segafredo team, clocked 4 hours, 37 minutes over the 178-kilometer (111-mile) leg from Rivarolo Canavese to Cogne in the northwestern Valle d’Aosta region.

The final climb to Cogne was a lengthy 22.2 kilometers (14 miles) but was steep only at the start and had an average gradient of just 4.3%. Requiring about an hour of climbing, it was still a challenge and when Ciccone attacked with 18.8 kilometers (12 miles) to go, his breakaway companions had no answer.

Santiago Buitrago crossed second, 1:31 behind, and Antonio Pedrero was third, 2:19 behind.

Carapaz crossed nearly eight minutes behind.

“I chose to attack solo with 19 kilometers to go because it was the steepest part of the climb and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to drop everyone later on,” Ciccone said.

After the race’s final rest day on Monday, the Giro resumes Tuesday with one of the sport’s toughest climbs up the Mortirolo along the 202-kilometer (126-mile) leg from Salo to Aprica. The annual wine stage is dedicated to the Sforzato variety of the Valtellina area.

The race ends next Sunday 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.”