Welcome back to another edition of Pro Log. The Giro d’Italia is in full swing, with Remco Evenepoel still in the maglia rosa on Stage 4 following his time-trial victory on the opening day. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) wears the maglia azzurra and is racking up the points already in his final Italian Grand Tour.
La Vuelta Femenina, the rebranded Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, finished with a dramatic crescendo on Lagos de Covadonga. Demi Vollering (SD Worx) won Stage 5 and Stage 7, but Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) hung on to the maillot rojo by just nine seconds in the end.
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1. Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Vuelta Femenina in nailbiting finale
Dario Belingheri/Getty Images
The seven-stage La Vuelta Femenina was enthralling from start to finish. Demi Vollering (SD Worx) arrived after a victorious Classics campaign in which she won the Ardennes Triple, while Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) was looking to flip an uncharacteristically quiet season. Following Jumbo-Visma’s success in the Stage 1 team time-trial and Charlotte Kool’s (Team DSM) victory on Stage 2, Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) won back-to-back stages as the race turned to the mountains.
It’s here, on the penultimate stage towards Laredo, that controversy erupted. Vollering and SD Worx stopped for a nature break with 70km to go. It was also at this moment that Movistar put the hammer down to raise the pace. Eventually Van Vleuten was off the front with Trek-Segafredo’s Gaia Realini; the Italian proving a revelation at La Vuelta Femenina. It came down to a two-woman sprint that was so close that the victory decision was reversed twice before the day’s honours were belatedly bestowed upon Realini.
The stage had been set for the final day of racing. Vollering and Realini rode Van Vleuten off their wheel with just 6km left of the race. As the gradients rose and fog clouded vision, the red jersey was slipping from Van Vleuten’s grasp. Vollering won the stage and attention turned to where Van Vleuten was on the mountain. The 40-year-old crossed the line 56 seconds behind and collapsed to the ground. She had won La Vuelta Femenina by just nine seconds.
2. Greg van Avermaet to retire at end of 2023
Greg van Avermaet has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2023 season. Van Avermaet, who rides for AG2R-Citroën, has spent 18 years in the professional peloton and wants to devote his time to his family while exploring new directions in life.
A standout moment in the career of the 37-year-old is undoubtably his gold medal in the Olympic Road Race in 2016. He has also won Tirreno-Adriatico (2016), Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem and E3 Harelbeke (2017) in addition to two individual stages at the Tour de France.
3. Tour de l’Avenir Femmes route revealed
The first edition of the Tour de l’Avenir Femmes for U23 riders will take place from 28th August to 1st September 2023. It begins with a 14.5km team time-trial around Saint-Vallier. Stage 2 is a flatter 91km route into Louhans as Stage 3 is a hillier affair over 97km from Val d’Epy to Saint-didier-sur-Charlaronne.
A total of 1,941m of climbing awaits the peloton on the 76km Stage 4 from Challes-les-Eaux to Megeve. The Queen Stage is the final day of racing, with 2,543m of elevation over 96km from Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc to Sainte Foy Tarentaise.
The men’s Tour de l’Avenir has been running since 1961. It became an U23 event in 2007 and has been won by the likes of Egan Bernal and Tadej Pogačar, who have experienced their fair share of success since.
4. Zdeněk Štybar undergoes successful surgery
Zdenêk Štybar (Jayco-AlUla) has undergone surgery for iliac artery endofibrosis, an intimal thickening of the iliac artery. According to the National Institutes of Health, the condition is mostly found in male endurance cyclists under 40 years of age.
Štybar said; ‘It was so weird that I was underperforming… I thought that probably the low performance was because of Covid that I had at the end of February, just before Opening Weekend. Then during races like Flanders, I thought that this must be something else… it could be age, maybe I just couldn’t follow anymore, but I still couldn’t believe that was the case.’
The 37-year-old is recovering and hopes to return to the peloton.
To keep up to date with the Giro d’Italia, read our full guide or visit our hub page.
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