Nairo Quintana withdraws from Vuelta a España to prepare his defense

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MADRID — Colombian cyclist Nairo Quintana withdrew from the Vuelta a España to defend himself against his disqualification from the Tour de France for misuse of an opioid banned during races.

The announcement came a day before the three-week Grand Tour race was scheduled to start. Quintana was already in the Netherlands for the first stage. He had initially said he would still compete in the Vuelta despite the notification from the International Cycling Union about his disqualification from the Tour de France.

“A few hours have passed and I’ve been able to reflect,” Quintana said on his social media accounts. “Right now I don’t have the mind or the body to compete even though I had said that I would be participating in the Spanish Vuelta. I’m still not in condition. I prefer to return home to organize and prepare my defense.”

The 32-year-old Quintana, the 2016 Vuelta champion, was set to lose the sixth-place finish he achieved last month at the Tour de France, though he was not banned from other races. The UCI said it was not a doping violation.

Traces of the synthetic painkiller tramadol were found in two dried blood spot samples taken from Quintana during the Tour on July 8 and 13, the UCI said.

Quintana said he would return to competition at the end of the season. He had said he was surprised with the test results and denied ever using the substance during his career. Quintana said he and his lawyers would do everything possible to show his innocence. They would be appealing the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Quintana’s case is among the first in world sports to rely on the dried blood spot method of collecting samples which the World Anti-Doping Agency approved last year.

Tramadol was banned in 2019 from use during cycling competitions because of the potential side effects.

Quintana finished second at the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015. He also won the 2014 Giro d’Italia.

Norway takes gold-medal lead at world road cycling titles

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WOLLONGONG, Australia – Soren Waerenskjold repeated Norway’s gold medal success at the world road cycling championships a day after Tobias Foss finished first in the elite men’s time trial.

Waerenskjold won the men’s under-23 time trial on the second day of the championships with a dominant performance. He clocked 34 minutes, 13.40 seconds over the 28.8-kilometer course to beat Belgian Alec Segaert by 16.34 seconds.

British rider Leo Hayter, the younger brother of elite rider Ethan Hayter, was 24.16 seconds off the pace for the bronze medal.

Foss beat a strong field to win the elite time trial, the biggest win of his career.

Norway has two gold medals, while Dutch ace Ellen van Dijk beat Australian Grace Brown to take out the women’ elite time trial.

The mixed relay time trial is set for Wednesday. The championships conclude on the weekend with the women’s road race on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday.

Ellen van Dijk defends time trial title at cycling worlds

95th UCI Road World Championships 2022 - Women Individual Time Trial
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WOLLONGONG, Australia – Ellen van Dijk defended her title and claimed a third women’s time trial gold medal at the opening event of the world road cycling championships on Sunday.

Taking advantage of a technical course the Dutch star maintained a perfectly paced cadence to beat Australia’s Grace Brown by 12.79 seconds to defend the time trial gold she won last year. Swiss rival Marlen Reusser took bronze.

Local favorite Brown was one of the early staters and set a blistering time around the 34.2 kilometer (21.3 miles) course at the scenic coastal town center of Wollongong, south of Sydney.

No other in the 45-strong field could get close to Brown’s time of 44 minutes 41.33 seconds until the final pair of van Dijk and Reusser, who claimed silver at last year’s world championships in Belgium, both clocked faster at the first time check.

Reusser then faded to finish more than 41 seconds off Brown’s time, but van Dijk powered on to claim her third gold medal in a time of 44:28.60.

Olympic time trial champion and two-time world champion Annemiek van Vleuten finished seventh, more than 90 seconds behind compatriot van Dijk.

Later Sunday, Vuelta a Espana winner Remco Evenepoel from Belgium, Italian two-time defending world champion Filippo Ganna and two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar from Slovenia headline the men’s event.

Other major races are the mixed relay time trial on Wednesday and the women’s road race next Saturday before the men’s race on the closing day Sunday, with local star and Giro d’Italia winner Jai Hindley racing the clock to recover from COVID-19 to take his place in the race.