Road Cycling World Championship

Tour de France sets new dates of Aug. 29 to Sept. 20; rest of cycling calendar remains unsettled

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Tour de France organizers announced Wednesday that the three-week cycling race would be pushed back roughly two months, from June 27-July 19 to Aug. 29-Sept. 20.

The postponement was inevitable after French President Emmanuel Macron announced the cancellation of all public events through mid-July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cycling’s calendar will need much more juggling to accommodate the other two grand tours and the world championships. The new Tour dates conflict with the Vuelta a España, scheduled for Aug. 14-Sept. 6. The Amaury Sports Organisation, which runs the Tour and the Vuelta, has made no announcement regarding the Vuelta’s schedule. ,

The Tour’s new dates also run into the world championships, set for Sept. 20-27 in Switzerland.

The Giro d’Italia will not start as scheduled May 9. No new date has been announced.

One complicating factor for the Vuelta and the Giro is that each race’s route goes through multiple countries that may impose or lift restrictions at different times. The Giro’s planned route begins in Hungary, and the postponement followed on the heels of the Hungarian government declaring a state of emergency. The Vuelta is set to begin in the Netherlands.

Cycling teams typically name different rosters for each of the three three-week stage races, and they’re used to a quick turnaround between the Vuelta and the world championships. But finding dates for all three races and the world championship before snow makes the Alps and Pyrenees impassible will be a challenge.

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Yorkshire races to replace washed-out bridge in time for world cycling event

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Heavy storms in Yorkshire have washed out a key bridge on the route of the men’s road race just a few weeks before cycling’s world championships are due to start, but the North Yorkshire County Council says it will put a temporary bridge in place by the end of August.

Grinton Moor Bridge, a stone structure in the Yorkshire Dales, also provided a picturesque point for the peloton when the 2014 Tour de France opened in England. The River Swale overran the bridge in heavy rain in late July.

The bridge sits just before one of the climbs that will separate well-rounded cyclists from the pure sprinters in the grueling 285-kilometer (177-mile) race Sept. 29. The world championship race often takes more than six hours.

Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde is the defending world champion, edging out Romain Bardet, Michael Woods and Tom Dumoulin at the finish line to take his first title at age 38.

The rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Dales featured heavily in the television series All Creatures Great and Small, based on the memoirs of a veterinarian who worked in the area.

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Slovakia’s Sagan first to win three-straight road race world titles

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In a dramatic photo finish, Slovakia’s Peter Sagan became the first man ever to win three consecutive men’s world championship road race titles when he crossed the finish line in Bergen, Norway.

Norway’s Alexander Kristoff rounded the final turn toward home with a slight lead, churning for the finish, but Sagan sprinted up his right side to edge the Norwegian on the final extension at the finish.

An estimated 100,000 spectators watched the riders repeatedly try to establish a lead pack throughout the race which ended with 12 loops through the streets of Bergen, but no one could find a way to make a clean break. Sagan would bide his time in the peloton for much of the race.

Adding even more drama to an already thrilling road race, with 3km left France’s Julian Alaphilippe began pulling away from a bunched peloton, which kicked off the final lap en masse. With Alaphilippe appearing in control, the cameras shooting from the lead pack motorcycle lost power.

Television commentators and everyone watching on TV or online were left in the dark, waiting to catch a glimpse of the lead riders. Tension mounted while viewers were stuck looking at a road void of cyclists near one of the final turns toward the finish.

“Where are the riders at the front of this race!” lamented NBC’s Paul Sherwen.

When the riders finally came into view, Alaphilippe was no longer in the lead, and 25-30 riders were jockeying for position as they rushed to the finish, but it was Sagan who would cross first in the end.

“For the last five kilometers, I said to myself, it’s already done. But it’s unbelievable. This is something special. You saw in the climb, we were in pieces. And at the finish, it all happened in seconds,” Sagan said after the race according to The Guardian.

“I want to dedicate this win to Michele Scarponi, it would have been his birthday tomorrow. And I want to dedicate this victory to my wife. We are expecting a baby.”

Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi was killed after being hit by a van while training near his home in Filottrano back in April. The loss was one that was felt across the entirety of the cycling world.

Michael Matthews of Australia finished the race in third.

Full results can be found here.

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MORE: Officer body checks fan at world road cycling championships (video)