Tour contender Roglic wins Criterium du Dauphine

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VAUJANY, France — Primoz Roglic warmed up for his Tour de France bid next month by winning the Criterium du Dauphine stage race for the first time.

His Jumbo-Visma teammate Jonas Vingegaard won the eighth and final stage in the mountains. The pair crossed the line holding hands at the summit of the Plateau de Solaison, with Roglic allowing Vingegaard to nose his wheel in front to take the stage win.

Vingegaard placed 40 seconds behind Roglic in the overall standings, with Australian Ben O’Connor from the AG2R Citroen team finishing 1 minute, 41 seconds behind Roglic in third spot.

Jumbo-Visma worked brilliantly on the final climb, with Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk accelerating to split up the leading group.

This allowed his two teammates to pull clear on the final ascent of the 135-kilometer (84-mile) trek from Saint-Chaffrey to Vaujany, which included two mammoth climbs of 23 kilometers (14.3 miles) and 29 kilometers (18 miles) and a last climb of 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles).

Roglic and Vingegaard were both credited with a time of 3 hours, 49 minutes, 20 seconds, with O’Connor trailing them by 15 seconds to finish the stage in third.

“The guys had everything under control from the start, it was a fast start. They were controlling all day,” the 32-year-old Roglic said. “Jonas was good on the last climb. We can be confident, some more work to do and we should be ready for the Tour.”

Roglic has won the past three Spanish Vuelta titles but he dramatically missed out on a Tour de France victory to fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar in 2020.

This year, Roglic also won the Paris-Nice stage race for the first time with a brilliant attack on the final stage.

“So finally I won some races in France, so it’s nice,” Roglic said.

Vingegaard was delighted with the manner of his stage win and the teamwork involved.

“We tried to drop everyone (on the climbs) and I think we can be very happy and proud,” Vingegaard said. “This is one of the greatest races in the world, to win a stage and finish in second place (overall) is great.”

The Dane will team up with Roglic again on the July 1-24 Tour. But the 25-year-old Vingegaard expects they will face a greater challenge.

“I think it will be hard for us to be 1-2 in the Tour, because there are so many GC (overall) contenders,” he said. “The competition will be harder.”

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.”