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Bennett wins another stage as Affini takes Vuelta a España lead Ellen van Dijk defends time trial title at cycling worlds Evenepoel clinches Vuelta title to become Grand Tour winner

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BREDA, the Netherlands. Sam Bennett hasn’t won a Grand Tour in two years. Now he has won two in a row.

The Bora-Hansgrohe driver took the win in another sprint finish on stage 3 of the Spanish Vuelta and Edoardo Affini took the leader’s red jersey to keep his Jumbo-Visma team and help Primoz Roglic defend his title.

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Affini is the third consecutive driver from the Dutch team to lead the overall standings at the start of the Vuelta in the Netherlands.

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“It all started with a time trial win and it’s amazing to be able to share those moments in our team’s country,” Affini said. “I think it was even more special for our Dutch guys, but also for me. Being the leader of the overall standings here is a truly amazing feeling. It’s crazy to be a leader.”

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The top six riders in the general classification belong to Jumbo-Visma. Sam Oomen was walking behind Affini, with Roglic right behind him.

This was the last leg before the Vuelta returned to Spain after starting in the Netherlands.

Michael Woods, a two-time Vuelta stage winner and one of this year’s title contenders, was forced to withdraw from the race after an accident. Richard Carapaz also crashed but was able to continue.

Bennett has not won a Grand Tour stage since the 2020 Vuelta before snapping his winless streak in Utrecht.

“It’s really nice that this is happening two days in a row,” said Bennett, who currently has 10 Grand Tour wins, five of which are at the Vuelta.

After a 193 km (120 mile) lap around Breda, Bennett dominated the final meters and took the win ahead of Mads Pedersen and Dan Maclay. Pedersen also finished second.

“It was pretty tough because I think a lot of people were fighting for our wheel,” Bennett said. “People started coming up from inside and pushing me. It was a pretty tough fight. A big thank you to the guys, they worked all day, looked after me the whole stage.”

Roglic, looking to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Vuelta title, finished comfortably in the peloton and remained in the lead. Robert Gesink and Mike Theunissen also wore the red jersey of Team Jumbo-Visma.

The riders will get their first rest day before the resumption of the race in the Basque Country in northern Spain.

WOLLONGONG, Australia. Ellen van Dijk defended her title and took her third gold medal in the women’s time trial at the opening of the Road Cycling World Championships on Sunday.

Taking advantage of the technical track, the Dutch star maintained a perfect pace to pass Australia’s Grace Brown by 12.79 seconds to defend gold in the time trial she won last year. Bronze went to Swiss Marlene Reusser.

Local favorite Brown was an early starter and had a brilliant time on the 34.2 km (21.3 miles) circuit in the picturesque waterfront city center of Wollongong, south of Sydney.

No one on the 45-man team could come close to Brown’s time of 44m41.33s until the last pairing of van Dijk and Reusser, who took silver at last year’s World Championships in Belgium, showed more results on the first check.

Reusser then beat Brown’s time by over 41 seconds, but van Dijk earned her third gold medal with 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 on Sunday, Vuelta a España winner Remco Evenepoel of Belgium, two-time world champion Filippo Ganna of Italy and two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia will lead the men’s event.

Other big races are the mixed time trial relay on Wednesday and the women’s road race next Saturday before the men’s race on Sunday’s closing day, where local star and Giro d’Italia winner Jai Hindley races against the clock to recover from COVID-19 to take his place in the race.

Remco Evenepoel put the hard times behind him with the biggest win of his career.

Two years ago, he flew off a bridge and had a terrible accident that left him hospitalized for several days. A year ago, the great cyclist questioned his loyalty to his teammates.

All of that was forgotten when 22-year-old Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Evenepoel won the Spanish Vuelta with his first Grand Tour victory.

“This is a story for the team, for my country, for myself,” Evenepul said. “I think we can really be proud of what we’ve done in the past three weeks.”

It was a landmark victory for Evenepol, who became the first Belgian to win a major three-week tournament since Johan de Muynck won the Giro d’Italia in 1978. 114 drivers at the Vuelta in 1993.

Evenepoel crossed the line for the last time in the leader’s red jersey in a celebratory final round through the streets of the Spanish capital, then received hugs and kisses from his partner before hoisting his bike over his head in front of his teammates.

“Now it’s really realized, it’s really official,” he said. “Emotions were high enough yesterday. We were actually there, but we still needed to finish the race safe and sound. We enjoyed as much as we could, and now we can really enjoy.”

Colombian Juan Sebastian Molano of Team Emirates won the final stage 21 in Madrid ahead of Mads Pedersen and Pascal Ackermann.

Evenepool, who has worn the red jersey since taking the lead on stage 6 and overcoming a serious crash on stage 12, secured the victory by pinning Enric Mas and the rest of his rivals in the final competitive stage.

Evenepoel finished 2 minutes and 2 seconds ahead of Movistar’s Masa. Another Spaniard was third, with Juan Ayuso finishing nearly five minutes ahead of UAE Team Emirates.

Evenepoel didn’t have to worry about three-time reigning champion Primoz Roglic, who was forced to retire due to injuries sustained in a crash near the end of stage 16. of the many riders who had to withdraw during the race due to positive coronavirus tests.

For Evenepoel, it was about using his pedals to answer his doubters and critics, including Eddy Merckx, the Belgian great who said last year that the youngster was unwilling to ride for his team.

Also last year, Evenepoel was thrown into the hurdles on stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia, and the year before, he survived a nasty crash in which he fell several meters (yards) off a bridge and was hospitalized with a fracture. pelvis

This year’s Vuelta was an emotional farewell for veteran Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, 2009 champion, and Italian driver Vincenzo Nibali, 2010 Vuelta winner. Both are about to retire and have been greeted by other cyclists with a guard of honor.


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