Defending Vuelta champion Primoz Roglic withdraws after crash

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MADRID — Primoz Roglic’s quest to win an unprecedented fourth straight Spanish Vuelta title ended when he withdrew from the race because of a crash the day before.

The Slovenian cyclist did not start Stage 17, won by Rigoberto Uran of Colombia.

“Thank you for all the beautiful moments in this Vuelta,” Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma team wrote on Twitter. “You had ambitious plans for the final days, but sadly it isn’t meant to be.”

Roglic went down hard 75 meters (80 yards) from the finish while going for the victory in Stage 16, crossing the line with bruises and bleeding from his right shoulder, arm and leg.

The injuries did not appear serious but the team and the rider decided it was better not to continue as the race entered the tough final stages.

Roglic had been slowly reducing his gap on overall leader Remco Evenepoel, who now has a clear path to win his first ever Grand Tour race.

The 22-year-old Belgian rider from team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl had an advantage of 1 minute, 26 seconds over Roglic. He finished safely and was more than two minutes in front of Spanish rider Enric Mas of Movistar, who now is his closest challenger.

The three-week race will end after Stage 21 in Madrid. Riders will face a mountain stage with three major ascents on the way to another unprecedented summit finish at the Alto de Piornal.

The 32-year-old Roglic was trying to join Spanish rider Roberto Heras as the only cyclists to win four Vuelta titles. Heras won the race in 2000 and 2003-05. Tony Rominger and Alberto Contador are the only other riders with three Vuelta titles.

The Spanish Vuelta remains the only Grand Tour event won by Roglic, whose preparations this year were hindered by a crash at the Tour de France. The team didn’t know if he was going to participate until a couple of days before the start.

Another title contender who had to drop out of the race was Simon Yates, who last week was among the many riders who withdrew because of a positive coronavirus test.

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.