Primoz Roglic takes the lead as Vuelta returns to Spain

14 Comments

LAGUARDIA, Spain — The Spanish Vuelta was back in Spain. And defending champion Primoz Roglic was back in the lead.

Roglic showed he is in great form and in position to retain his Vuelta title with a dominant win in Stage 4, as the Grand Tour race returned to Spanish territory after three opening stages in the Netherlands.

Trying to win an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title, Roglic took the leader’s red jersey after launching his attack in the final meters of the uphill climb into Laguardia in the Basque Country.

The Jumbo-Visma rider opened a 13-second gap in the general classification to American teammate Sepp Kuss. Roglic was 26 seconds in front of Ethan Hayter of Ineos Grenadiers.

“It’s really just the beginning of La Vuelta but it’s always better to be 10 seconds ahead rather than behind,” Roglic said. “It was already a hard pace the whole day, with a super fast and hard stage. The finale was an opportunity to fight for the stage win. I had the legs so I gave it a go.”

The Slovenian crossed the line in front of Mads Pedersen of Trek-Segafredo and Movistar’s Enric Mas. It was the third-straight second-place finish for Pedersen, who was beaten by Sam Bennett in the second and third stages.

Roglic enjoyed his 10th stage win overall at the Vuelta. His preparations for this edition were not ideal – because of injuries sustained in a fall at the Tour de France – and his participation confirmed only a few days before the race started.

Ineos rider Richard Carapaz was 33 seconds off the lead, and Simon Yates of Bikeexchange-Jayco fell 51 seconds back overall.

The first three stages had taken place in the Netherlands for the first time after plans to start there in 2020 were hindered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Riders will face five mountain passes in Stage 5 finishing in Bilbao.

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

4 Comments

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

5 Comments

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.”