Evenepoel tames tough final climb, increases Vuelta lead

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NAVA, Spain – Remco Evenepoel dropped his main challengers on the grueling final ascent in Les Praeres to increase his overall lead in the Spanish Vuelta.

South African Louis Meintjes won Stage 9, crossing the line more than a minute ahead of Samuele Battistella, Edoardo Zambanini and Evenepoel.

Evenepoel launched his attack about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the summit to overpower his rivals and extend his lead ahead of Monday’s rest day and Tuesday’s time trial in Alicante.

The Belgian rider from team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl increased the gap to Enric Mas from 28 seconds to 72 seconds overall. His advantage over defending champion Primoz Roglic went up by more than 50 seconds and was at nearly two minutes.

Roglic, seeking an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title, was only 10th in Sunday’s stage, crossing the line 2:26 behind Meintjes.

Evenepoel got the help he needed from his team despite the surprise absence of Pieter Serry, who had to withdraw before the stage after testing positive for the coronavirus.

“I’m really impressed by my team,” Evenepoel said. “I’m so happy with the guys, it actually makes me a bit emotional seeing these guys working their hearts out for me. In a climb like this, it’s all about the power, there’s no drafting or anything because it’s too steep.”

Meintjes became the second South African stage winner in the Vuelta since Robbie Hunter in 1999 and 2001.

“It’s something special,” the 30-year-old Meintjes said. “I’ve never been on the podium of a World Tour race except for a team classification so that was one of my main goals before stopping my career. The last few days, I was just not quite fast enough in the mountain finishes. If I can’t (get) a result that way, the best was to go in the breakaway and it worked out perfectly.”

Meintjes moved to 16th in the general classification, nearly seven minutes off the lead.

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.