Evenepoel wins Vuelta stage, consolidates overall lead

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TRUJILLO, Spain – Remco Evenepoel showed who’s in charge at the Spanish Vuelta.

The overall leader made a strong statement with a victory in Stage 18, holding off the attack of his challengers and sprinting for the win at the summit.

It was the second stage win for the 22-year-old Belgian from team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl.

“This was the most perfect day ever,” Evenepoel said. “Winning La Vuelta is still not done, with a really hard stage to come. They will for sure attack me. But maybe now it’s easier to control because I feel my legs are really good. This is very good for me and for the team for the last three days.”

The big stage victory came a day after three-time defending champion Primoz Roglic, who was his closest rival, withdrew because of injuries from a crash.

Evenepoel’s gap to second place Enric Mas of team Movistar stayed at more than two minutes. The Spaniard followed Evenepoel closely on Thursday and crossed the line just two seconds behind him at the Alto de Piornal.

“It was a pretty tough stage with really hard climbs in the finale,” Evenepoel said. “The race was really hard, but we always stayed calm. I think that’s what I learned, to always stay calm.”

Evenepoel has been leading the race since Stage 6 in the longest run at the top for a Belgian at a Grand Tour race since Johan De Muynck won the Giro d’Italia in 1978. That was the last victory for Belgium in a three-week event.

Stage 19 is a short circuit with two mountain passes in Talavera de la Reina. The race ends Sunday in Madrid.

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.