Remco Evenepoel increases Spanish Vuelta lead with time-trial victory


ALICANTE, Spain — Remco Evenepoel came into the Spanish Vuelta with the goal of winning a stage.

He accomplished that in style and now also sees himself in position to take the general classification title as well.

The Belgian rider from team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl pulled off an impressive time-trial victory in the 10th stage in Alicante, increasing his overall lead.

“It’s super nice to win this time trial in the red jersey,” the 22-year-old Evenepoel said. “It’s an amazing feeling. I think I achieved my dream.”

Evenepoel was 48 seconds faster than second-place Primoz Roglic, taking his general classification lead over the three-time defending champion to 2 minutes, 41 seconds with 11 stages left.

“That’s a big surprise,” Evenepoel said when told of his gap to his rival from team Jumbo-Visma. “Now we’re going to fight and we’re going to try to win this Vuelta. The pressure is off. I won a stage. Now the whole team is super confident. Everybody is performing so well. Now we just have to fight to keep this jersey and take it home.”

Evenepoel is the first rider to beat Roglic in an individual time trial in the Vuelta. He is also the first Belgian to win an individual time trial in the Vuelta since Fons De Wolf in Valladolid in 1979.

Enric Mas, the Spaniard from team Movistar, dropped from second to third in the general classification, sitting more than three minutes off the lead. Fellow Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez was nearly four minutes behind Evenepoel in fourth place.

Riders will face a flat Stage 11 that will favor the sprinters on.

Nearly two dozen riders had to withdraw from the race because of positive coronavirus tests, including Sam Bennett, a two-time stage winner this year.

The rest day came in handy for Astana rider Alexey Lutsenko, who took advantage of the time off to be with his wife for the birth of his son.

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under


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


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.”