Evenepoel safely keeps Vuelta lead as Groves wins 11th stage

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ALMERIA, Spain — Remco Evenepoel safely kept the overall lead at the Spanish Vuelta, while Kaden Groves prevailed in the final sprint to win his first Grand Tour stage after more riders had to withdraw because of positive coronavirus tests.

Simon Yates, Groves’ teammate at BikeExchange-Jayco, was among those who had to leave the race because of the coronavirus. The 2018 Vuelta champion was fifth in the general classification. Pavel Sivakov, who was ninth, also had to withdraw.

“This morning, with the news of Simon being positive for COVID, all the boys were pretty disappointed, and this is the best way to bounce back after such bad news,” the 23-year-old Groves said. “I really have to celebrate but I also wish he was here because he’s part of this team.”

The Australian crossed the line ahead of Danny van Poppel and Tim Merlier to take the victory in Stage 11.

“I have to thank all the guys, we’ve been riding all day and we set up early for this win,” Groves said. “With crosswind in the last four kilometers, the guys did a perfect job to put me in the front fresh. Being my first Grand Tour win, it sure takes the cake.”

Evenepoel finished in the peloton along with three-time defending champion Primoz Roglic, who stayed at 2 minutes, 41 seconds off the lead with 10 stages left. Enric Mas remained more than three minutes behind Evenepoel in third place.

Evenepoel had increased his lead with a strong time trial on Tuesday. The 22-year-old Belgian from team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl has held the leader’s red jersey since the sixth stage.

Evenepoel lost an important teammate on Wednesday, though, as world champion Julian Alaphilippe had to withdraw from the race after a crash. Alaphilippe had to be taken into an ambulance with a dislocated right shoulder. The team said there was no fracture.

“It’s definitely not a beautiful day like we hoped for,” Evenepoel said. “It’s definitely a big loss for our team, especially on a quiet stage. It’s quite a pity. I hope he does well and he’s not suffering too much. Julian was doing really well in a lot of stages. It’s a pity that we lose the world champion because he was in a really good shape. I have confidence in my other teammates also and I’m sure they will do very well in the coming stages.”

Riders in Stage 12 will face a long flat stage with an uphill finale in Estepona.

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.