Alberto Bettiol wins time-trial prologue at Tour Down Under

Getty Images

ADELAIDE, Australia — Italian cyclist Alberto Bettiol took advantage of an early start and dry course to win the 5.5-kilometer time trial prologue at the Tour Down Under.

Bettiol was the fourth of 139 riders to start the stage over a tight, twisting course along the Torrens River in downtown Adelaide. He set a time of 6 minutes, 19.73 seconds, then sat for more than two hours as none of the later riders managed to better his mark.

Rain set in soon after he finished, making conditions slippery for many riders. The course dried briefly later in the stage but the rain fell again before the end.

Bettiol’s last stage victory came in the 2021 Giro d’Italia. He also won the Tour of Flanders in 2019.

“I’m really happy and I feel really lucky at the same time,” Bettiol said. “I knew I could do well but for sure not to win.

“There were plenty of better riders, especially in a shorter course like this. But Australia helped me, the weather helped me and I really appreciate the effort my team gave me to give me the best product, the best material, the best support.”

Bettiol finished eight seconds ahead of American rider Magnus Sheffield, while Danish rival Julius Johansen was two seconds further back in third.

Bettiol will wear the tour leader’s ocher jersey in the first road stage. The 150-kilometer stage begins and ends in the township of Tanunda in the Adelaide Hills, passing through the Barossa Valley wine-growing region.

“I like this race and I’ll be really proud to wear the jersey of the Tour Down Under tomorrow morning,” Bettiol said. “It’s a prologue and the real race starts tomorrow.”

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under


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


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.”