Pedersen finally gets stage win, Evenepoel keeps Vuelta lead

8 Comments

MONTILLA, Spain – This time there was no finish-line disappointment for Mads Pedersen in the Spanish Vuelta.

The Danish rider finally triumphed in the Vuelta, taking Stage 13 after three consecutive second-place finishes earlier in the Grand Tour race.

Pedersen was pipped at the end of the second, third and fourth stages, but this time the 2019 world champion had enough to hold on to his first Vuelta victory. He made a late attack to beat Bryan Coquard and Pascal Ackermann at the line in Montilla.

“It definitely was the dream scenario,” said Pedersen, from team Trek-Segafredo. “We knew this finale was pretty good.

“The boys did really good today and everyone was focused the whole day. I’m just happy that I can finally get the win and give the boys back for all the work they’ve done so far.”

There were no changes at the top of the general classification as Remco Evenepoel and his challengers stayed safely in the peloton. The Belgian from Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl has a gap of 2 minutes, 41 seconds over three-time defending champion Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma.

Juan Ayuso, the Spaniard from UAE Team Emirates who was fifth overall, tested positive for the coronavirus before the stage but was allowed to continue racing because he had no symptoms and his viral load was small.

“I was surprised,” the 19-year-old Ayuso said while wearing a mask after the race. “It was determined that the viral load was small and it wasn’t a danger for the rest of the riders, so I could compete without any problems.”

Several riders have had to drop from the race because of positive virus tests, including 2018 winner Simon Yates and Sam Bennett, who beat Pedersen in the second and third stages.

In Stage 14, riders will endure constant climbs at the Sierra de la Pandera in southern Spain.

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.”