Evenepoel holds his ground in Vuelta, Arensman wins stage

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SIERRA NEVADA, Spain – Still feeling stiff from his crash and facing the highest summit finish of the Spanish Vuelta, Remco Evenepoel held his ground to take a big step toward winning his first Grand Tour race.

Evenepoel, who was injured after a crash, fended off another challenge by three-time champion Primoz Roglic to keep the leader’s red jersey and a considerable gap to his main challengers.

Roglic made a late attack on the final climb of Stage 15 but could only cut 15 seconds from Evenepoel’s overall lead.

Thymen Arensman won the stage for his first Grand Tour victory, crossing the finish line safely ahead of Enric Mas, Miguel Angel Lopez and Jay Vine.

“It’s hard to believe, it really has to sink in,” said Arensman, a Dutch rider from team DSM. “I can’t believe it on the queen stage of the Vuelta. Everybody was talking about this stage. To be honest, I didn’t feel super good during the stage but apparently the others felt the legs even more.”

Roglic, seeking an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title with Jumbo-Visma, was fifth in the stage, moving within 1 minute, 34 seconds of Evenepoel overall. Mas also made up time entering the final week of the last Grand Tour race of the year.

“It’s actually my first time finishing so high, so I think I did quite well,” said Evenepoel, the Belgian rider from Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. “I felt a bit stiff from the crash, but it’s getting better every day. So, I’m really happy that it’s a rest day tomorrow and I actually lost almost nothing. A good day for us. With the crash it was not so easy to handle, but the third week is a bit of another story. The climbs are not super super hard anymore.”

Riders have a rest day before a flat Stage 16 that should allow the overall leaders to comfortably stay at the top.

Giro d’Italia to start on former railway line in Abruzzo

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L’AQUILA, Italy — The 2023 edition of the Giro d’Italia will start with an individual time trial on a coastal cycle path that has been recreated from a former railway line in the region of Abruzzo.

At a ceremony in the Abruzzo capital of L’Aquila, race organizers announced that the Grand Tour will run from May 6-28 and begin with an 18.4-kilometer (11.4-mile) time trial on the Adriatic coast.

Almost the entire time trial will be on the spectacular Costa dei Trabocchi cycle path that hugs the coast line before a short climb to the finish in Ortona.

“I am excited at the idea of the Grande Partenza (Big Start) of the Giro in Abruzzo . It is a dream come true, especially with regard to the prologue on the Costa dei Trabocchi,” said Trek-Segafredo cyclist Dario Cataldo, who is from the region.

“I well remember that when the cycle path project was born and I saw the first tracks, I imagined the beauty of a Giro d’Italia passing along the route. It looked perfect.”

Stage 2 is a 204-kilometer (127-mile) leg from Teramo to San Salvo that is hilly in the first part but expected to end in a bunch sprint.

Stage 3 will also start in the Abruzzo region, in Vasto, but it will then head south and will be detailed when the full route is revealed on Oct. 17 in Milan.

The Giro will also return to the region for Stage 7, a daunting climb on the Gran Sasso d’Italia to Campo Imperatore. The high mountain stage, on May 12, will be the edition’s first finish above 2,000 meters.

Australian Jai Hindley won this year’s Giro.

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.