Pogačar wins Lombardia again; last race for Valverde, Nibali Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

Como, Italy. Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar passed Enric Mas to successfully defend his title at Il Lombardia, the final race of Grand Tour champions Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali.

Pogacar, a Slovenian with the Emirates UAE team, overtook Mas at the end of the 253 km (157 mile) route from Bergamo to Como to win the final one-day classic of the season.

Nothing could separate the duet on a very difficult route, consisting of nine ascents. But Pogacar won the sprint to the finish line, his 16th win of the season and 46th of his career.

“It’s great to come back and repeat the victory. I tried to attack on the rise of Chivillo, but Mas was clearly at the same level as me. I was still confident that I would beat him in the sprint,” said Pogacar, who finished second in the Tour this year after winning the previous two.

“At the Giro del Emilia, I was still suffering from the return from Australia, but since then I feel better and better. This victory makes the 2022 season almost perfect for me.”

Mikel Landa was third, 10 seconds behind Pogacar and Mas. Only Sergio Higuita and Carlos Rodriguez were also within a minute of the top two.

42-year-old Valverde from Spain, who won the Spanish Vuelta in 2009, was sixth. Italian cyclist Nibali was 24th, more than two minutes behind Pogacar.

Nibali, 37, who is one of seven cyclists to have won all three Grand Tours, received loud applause throughout the race.

“I loved the race and the fans, unfortunately the stages didn’t go that far,” said Nibali, who announced his impending retirement from this year’s Giro d’Italia.

“It was a long and emotional journey that started at the Giro d’Italia, but I managed to release some of the emotions during the year. I am very grateful to everyone who greeted me and thanked me throughout the entire route.”

ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead and won the Tour Down Under, the opening event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second overall. Vine placed second on the stage, securing the biggest stage win of his career.

The Emirates rider from the UAE led the Tour overall standings, finishing second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He advanced to the final stage with a 15-second lead in the overall standings.

The 70-mile stage included four laps of a 15.5-mile course through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just behind the top of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the decisive attack on the climb less than 1.9 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped on his wheel and was joined by Australian Ben O’Connor.

O’Connor led close to the finish line, with Vine briefly overtaking him, but Yates took the lead to take the stage victory. Vine maintained his overall lead and took the title in his debut appearance on the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made a name for himself in esports before being signed by the UAE team after winning an academic program on online platform Zwift. Last year he won two stages of the Vuelta a España and the Australian time trial title.

“It’s incredible to stand here and wear this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove was first class. My guys were incredible.”

13 riders pulled away in the final stage, but Vine’s teammates from the UAE led the peloton chase and gave their rider the opportunity to contest the victory.

Yates again ran an aggressive race but had to be pleased with the stage win.

“We came to Down Under with big ambitions. We put a lot into it and it didn’t work out for us overall, but we can walk away very happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a huge talent and the public will be happy to have a local winner.”

ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Brian Cockade won stage 4 of the Tour Down Under, his first World Tour victory, while Australian Jay Vine retained the overall lead by 15 seconds with a stage to spare.

Cockarde is a lightweight sprinter with 49 victories in his ten-year career but never won a World Tour until he crashed closer to the finish line and cleared the 82-mile stage with a margin of just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group to share Coquard’s win time and maintain their overall lead over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race culminates in Stage 5, which ends at the top of 2,329-foot Lofty Mountain.

“I have been waiting for this victory for a long time, 10 years,” said Kokar, who plays for the French team Cofidis. “I never expected and I am very happy and delighted with this victory.”

Although the stage was flat and suitable for sprinters, it had its own problems. Crosswinds and occasional inclines made the stage difficult and confusing for some riders.

After an early break from Jonas Ruch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton split into two groups, with Vine and the other tour leaders entering the lead group.

The lead group stayed together through the last tight turn to the finish line, and Cockarde waited until his late sprint left the other riders by surprise.

“It was a pretty stressful period,” Vine said. “There was one moment, I thought we were going to have an easy day, and I was happy, smiling, waving to the families on the side of the road.

“Then it was 45 kilometers and it went on until the end, so it was a very hard day. A lot more calories were burned than I planned.”


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