Jay Vine landed a second stage win in three days at the Vuelta a Espana after a magnificent climb through mountain mist to the finish line.

The Australian made his decisive move on Saturday's stage eight with just under 6km remaining as crowds roared on his bravura move, with the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider leaving behind fellow breakaway riders.

Vine had a 25-second lead with 1.5km remaining as Spaniard Marc Soler just about stayed in touch, but the gap was 43 seconds in the end, the home challenge having faded.

The 153.4-kilometre Asturias mountain stage from Pola de Laviana contained a sting in the tail, a category one ascent to the Collau Fancuaya finish.

Having won an exacting stage from Bilbao to Pico Jano on Thursday for his first Grand Tour win, it was impressive that Vine was able to produce a repeat.

"It's incredible," said 26-year-old Vine on Eurosport. "I've got so much more confidence after that first one, I got the monkey off my back. It felt so much more natural riding in the group today and all the pressure was off me. Today was such a fun day."

He featured among a group that surged clear of the peloton and held a lead of over four minutes inside 60km, and although it later splintered Vine had plenty of company heading into the closing 10km.

His surge did the job, though, denying Soler what would have been a third Spanish victory in four days following Jesus Herrada's Friday win.

In the general classification picture, Remco Evenepoel stayed out in front, but Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) slipped from second to 30th overall after a rough ride, allowing Enric Mas and Primoz Roglic to each nudge up a place to podium positions.

Vine vaults to KOM top spot

Vine's dominant ride saw him take over at the top of the King of the Mountains standings – the fourth Australian to achieve that feat after Simon Clarke, Nathan Haas and Michael Storer – following misfortune for previous leader Victor Langellotti.

Langellotti (Burgos-BH) crashed out early in the stage and was taken to hospital with a suspected fractured collarbone and concussion.

STAGE RESULT

1. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
2. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) +0:43
3. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 0:43
4. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +0:47
5. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) +1:20

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 29:28:19
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +0:28
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:01

Points Classification

1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 147
2. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 142
3. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 81

King of the Mountains

1. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 40
2. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 16
3. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) 12

Jesus Herrada snatched an emotional sprint victory on stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana as the experienced rider led home a breakaway group of five.

Three years after making a Grand Tour breakthrough with a maiden stage win in the Vuelta, the 32-year-old Cofidis man roared to glory on the 190-kilometre ride from Camargo to Cistierna.

He broke down in tears at the roadside afterwards but gathered his thoughts and said: "We fought to the finish line and we were able to do it.

"This victory is very important because it took a lot to break away until we gained a distance. We had to work very hard."

A group containing Samuele Battistella (Astana), Herrada (Cofidis), Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Harrison Sweeny (Lotto Soudal) and Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) pulled well clear of the peloton early on, with a number of fellow riders falling away on the category one ascent of Puerto de San Glorio.

With 10km remaining, the lead quintet's advantage was coming down and had shrunk to one minute and one second, and the chasers looked perhaps capable of reeling them in.

That did not prove to be the case, though, allowing focus to switch to those at the head of the race as cat-and-mouse racing saw the riders snake through the streets of Cistierna.

Wright briefly looked like he had the win in his hands, but he had made his move to the front from too far out and was pipped just short of the finish line by Herrada. The stage winner and Battistella both blazed past the Briton in a final burst for glory, and the home rider took the win by barely half a wheel.

More success for Spain

It was a second Spanish win in three stages, after Marc Soler prevailed in stage five on Wednesday, and a mountainous weekend now awaits the teams. The leading general classification positions remained unchanged after the peloton's bunch finish, with Remco Evenepoel keeping the red jersey.

Quoted by Marca, Herrada said of Friday's breakaway: "The five of us who were in it understood each other quite well. We gave it our all until the end and it paid off.

"The terrain and a bit of the wind played in our favour. I'm very, very happy. It's the second Spanish win after Marc's, we're not so bad in Spanish cycling."


STAGE RESULT

1. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) 04:30:58
2. Samuele Battistella (Astana) same time
3. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) same time
4. Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Deceuninck) same time
5. Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 25:21:34
2. Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) +00:00:21
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +00:00:28

Points Classification

1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 142
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 127
3. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) 64

King of the Mountains

1. Victor Langellotti (Burgos-BH) 13
2. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 11
3. Ruben Fernandez (Cofidis) 11

Jay Vine secured a first professional victory on stage six of the Vuelta a Espana in weather conditions so bad TV cameras could not even pick up footage of him crossing the line.

The Australian, a late convert from indoor cycling, finished a comfortable 15 seconds ahead of Remco Evenepoel, though the Belgian still took the red jersey, which hands for the third day in a row.

Enric Mas remained in the hunt with a third-place finish, sitting 28 seconds behind Evenepoel in the General Classification, while Primoz Roglic could not keep pace and finished over a minute behind his rivals.

Juan Ayuso came fourth, 55 seconds off the lead, while Rudy Molard – second in the standings and 21 seconds behind Evenepoel – finished 35th on the day.

Evenepoel's charge to the top of the standings sees the Belgian become the youngest leader of the Vuelta since Ettore Pastorelli 34 years ago, taking the red jersey following an unprecedented summit finish at Pico Jano.

Three more days of action over the weekend before the next rest period in Alicante on Monday leaves plenty left to be decided, and there have been several surprises over the course of the week.

Vine's jubilation

Vine was understandably over the moon with his performance and found himself looking back on fulfilling a dream after a tricky start.

"It's almost unreal. At 70k to go, I missed the break; got a flat tyre in the first 5k. Even though it was still the team's plan if it all came back together for me to go on the final climb, it's unreal to be able to do it," he told Eurosport.

"From the GC group, it's incredible. I've been working towards this all year, after last year, coming so close. It's a dream come true."

STAGE RESULT

1. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 04:38:00

2. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) +00:00:15

3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +00:00:16

4. Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +00:00:55

5. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +00:01:37

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 20:50:07

2. Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) +00:00:21

3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +00:00:28

Points Classification

1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 127

2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 118

3. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 47

King of the Mountain

1. Victor Langellotti (Burgos-BH) 13

2. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 11

3. Ruben Fernandez (Cofidis) 11

Marc Soler secured a surprise victory on stage five of the Vuelta a Espana, charging clear on the final climb and coming home unopposed after indecision from those behind him.

Soler looked like he could be cruelly denied victory in the final kilometre with a group of six chasing and appearing to be in striking distance, but there was little support as they looked to bridge the gap in the closing stages.

The 28-year-old's victory secured Spain's first stage win on any Grand Tour for almost two years, the last being Ion Izagirre in 2020 - bringing an end to a 121-stage barren run for the home nation.

The UAE Team Emirates rider finished four seconds ahead of a group of 10 riders behind him, which included Rudy Molard - who climbed to the top of the standings with a fourth-place finish to take the red jersey, with former leader Primoz Roglic finishing five minutes and nine seconds behind Soler.

Molard's lead puts him at the top for the first time since 2018, when he led on four occasions, and boasts five of the seven stage leads that French riders have had since 2018.

Daryl Impey came second ahead of Fred Wright, the latter still waiting for his first stage win of the competition this year but sitting just two seconds behind Molard in the standings.

Wright holds regret

Still seeking a first stage win this year, Wright was frustrated by the fact he was unable to catch Soler for the lead.

"I was feeling strong but I'm disappointed, I was just too marked. We should have caught him, plain and simple, but it just didn't happen," he told Eurosport.

"It's a shame that I'm close to that win again. I'm sure there will be better days."

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 4:15:23

2. Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech) +00:00:04

3. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) +00:00:04

4. Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) +00:00:04

5. G Lawson Craddock (Team Bikeexchange-Jayco) +00:00:04

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) 16:07:02

2. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) +0:02

3. Nikias Arndt (Team DSM) +1:09

Points Classification

1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 127

2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 118

3. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 47

King of the Mountains

1. Victor Langellotti (Burgos-BH) 13

2. Roger Adria Oliveras (Equipo Kern Pharma) 6

3. G Lawson Craddock (Team Bikeexchange-Jayco) 5

Defending champion Primoz Roglic roared to the top of the Vuelta a Espana standings with a first stage win of this year's competition on day four in the Basque Country.

With the race resuming on Tuesday after a break to transfer from the Netherlands, the Slovenian moved up from third to take the red jersey with victory from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Laguardia.

Despite no other team members making the top 10 for the day, Roglic was ably supported by his fellow Team Jumbo–Visma riders, who helped him command the final uphill sprint to take victory.

After back-to-back stage wins for Ireland's Sam Bennett, it means Roglic has now reinforced his title defence, dethroning team-mate Edoardo Affini at the top.

Roglic edged Mads Pedersen, whose strong Vuelta continues apace with his third consecutive second-place finish, moving him up to ninth in the General Classification and second in points.

The former's team-mate Sepp Kuss lies second, 13 seconds off the overall lead, though the rest of their fellow Jumbo-Visma riders have slipped down the ranks ahead of Wednesday's leg from Irun to Bilbao.

Roglic happy to build early advantage

For the first time this year, Roglic has built a double-digit lead, and says he is happy to take the early advantage.

"It's really just the beginning of La Vuelta but it's always better to be 10 seconds ahead rather than behind," he stated.

"It was already a hard pace the whole day, with a super fast and hard stage. The finale was an opportunity to fight for the stage win. I had the legs so I gave it a go."

STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 3:31:05
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) same time
3. Enric Mas (Movistar Team) same time
4. Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) same time
5. Pavel Sivakov (INEOS Grenadiers) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 11:50:59
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +13 seconds
3. Ethan Hayter (INEOS Grenadiers) +26 seconds

Points Classification

1. Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) 127
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 118
3. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) 34

King of the Mountains

1. Joan Bou (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 5
2. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 3
3. Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) 3

Sam Bennett made it back-to-back stage wins to cement his place as a dark horse outsider on Sunday at the Vuelta a Espana.

The 31-year-old Irishman claimed victory on Saturday amid a mass sprint in Utrecht, and backed up his points classification credentials with a second Grand Tour stage in as many days in Breda.

As the Vuelta packs up to make the transfer to Spain following its start in the Netherlands, it means Bennett – left out of the Tour de France for a second successive year – leads the points standings.

With such a strong performance to date, the BORA-hansgrohe rider is not ruling out a sustained push for the green jersey, but Bennett acknowledges the riders have barely scratched the surface of this year's race.

"There is a long way to go [and] anything can happen," Bennett said, quoted by Cycling News. "But we want the sprint jersey and we will start to commit more to look at points.

"We have two stages now, so we can make bigger decisions on when to take points and when to leave them. Hopefully we can compete for the green – that would be really nice."

Mads Pedersen nabbed second for the second day in a row, while Briton Dan McLay improved his day-by-day performance from sixth to third.

The race will resume on Tuesday, starting from Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque Country, with Edoardo Affini leading a top-six lockout for Jumbo-Visma in the general classification standings.

Affini is tied on the clock with three-time reigning champion Primoz Roglic, plus Sam Oomen, Sepp Kuss, Mike Teunissen and Robert Gesink.

STAGE RESULT

1. Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) 4:05:53
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) same time
3. Dan McLay (Arkea-Samsic) same time
4. Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) same time
5. Fabian Lienhard (Groupama-FDJ) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) 8:20:07
2. Sam Oomen (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) same time

Points Classification

1. Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe) 117
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 80
3. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) 34

King of the Mountains

1. Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) 3
2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 2
3. Thibault Guernalec (Arkea-Samsic) 1

Sam Bennett claimed his first Grand Tour stage win in two years as he held off a mass sprint to take victory on Saturday at the Vuelta a Espana.

In the second of three stages held in the Netherlands, the Irishman justified his selection for BORA-Hansgrohe by refinding his form in Utrecht.

Bennett has endured a difficult season, having been left out of the Tour de France for a second straight year, but capitalised on the lead-out qualities of team-mates Ryan Mullen and Danny van Poppel.

"Danny brought me up with speed, then he was kind of ready for me to jump, but I waited a second, and I didn't know if I'd let my speed drop too much, and I was nervous I wouldn't get on top of the speed again," Bennett said.

"Danny didn't deliver me; he launched me. It was down to the boys today.

"It's nice. I knew I'd do it again, it was just a matter of getting the right legs. What I'm really happy about is continuing my pattern of winning at least one stage in every Grand Tour I've done since 2018."

Mads Pederson came in second, having been unable to sustain an early attack, with Tim Merlier finishing third.

Jumbo-Visma dominate the general classification standings, with Mike Teunissen, who crossed in fourth place, taking the leader's jersey from team-mate Robert Gesink.

Three-time reigning champion Primoz Roglic shares that lead.

More Vuelta joy for Bennett 

Bennett has now won nine stages in GTs, with four of those coming at La Vuelta. That makes the race his favourite of the big three, with the 31-year-old having won three at the Giro d'Italia and two at the Tour de France.

STAGE RESULT 

1. Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) 3:49:34
2. Mads Pederson (Trek-Segafredo) same time
3. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Deceuninck) same time
4. Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) same time
5. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) 4:14:14
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Sam Oomen (Jumbo-Visma) same time

Points Classification

1. Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) 50
2. Mads Pederson (Trek-Segafredo) 50
3. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) 26

King of the Mountains

1. Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) 2
2. Thibault Guernalec (Arkea-Samsic) 1

Robert Gesink took the red jersey on home soil after Jumbo-Visma dominated the opening stage of the Vuelta a Espana in Utrecht on Friday.

It was a day to remember for the Dutch team as they hit the ground running in the team time-trial.

Jumbo-Visma covered the 23.3-kilometre route in 24 minutes and 40 seconds, with Gesink first across the line to ensure he will don La Roja for stage two from 's-Hertogenbosch back to Utrecht on Saturday.

Ineos Grenadiers were 13 seconds back in second place, with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl third at the start of the last Grand Tour of the year.

Jumbo-Visma's fit-again defending champion Primoz Roglic could not have asked for a much better start to his bid to become the first rider to win the Vuelta in four successive years.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco were fourth, with Chris Froome's Israel Premier Tech down in 16th.

 

Roglic confident after 'perfect' start

Slovenian Roglic abandoned the Tour de France last month, having soldiered on despite suffering a dislocated shoulder and a back injury when he crashed on stage five.

Having been passed fit for a shot at history in a race he has dominated, the 32-year-old was delighted with the start his team made.

He said: "It's a great feeling. I think it's well deserved. It was really nice to be out today with huge crowds and with my guys. Everyone did a perfect job, so we were enjoying.

"My condition is good enough to win today. I'm super happy about it. It was a pleasure today, the guys did a really great job. Twenty days more to come."

On Gesink being in red, Roglic said: "He's the one that deserves it the most, it's a pleasure racing for so many years with him. I started with him in the team, he taught me a lot and it's nice to win as the home team with a home rider."

 

STAGE RESULT (TEAM)

1. Jumbo-Visma 24:40
2. Ineos Grenadiers 24:53
3. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl 24:54
4. Team BikeExchange-Jayco 25:11
5. UAE Team Emirates 25:13


CLASSIFICATION FINAL STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma) 24:40
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma) same time

Primoz Roglic will set out on a mission to create cycling history as the Slovenian gets his Vuelta a Espana campaign under way on Friday.

The 77th edition of the Grand Tour starts in Utrecht, with the opening three stages taking place across the Netherlands before the caravan transfers to Spain.

It is only the fourth time that the Vuelta has started outside of Spain, after doing so in Portugal in 1997, the Netherlands in 2009 and France in 2017.

Spanish riders have won 32 of the previous 76 editions, but not since 2014 has a Spaniard triumphed, when Alberto Contador tasted glory.

It is the longest wait for a Spaniard champion in the race's history, and in the last three years, it is Roglic who has dominated.

Meanwhile, Alejandro Valverde, the 2009 champion, will bid goodbye to his home Grand Tour.

 

Roglic's shot at history

Roglic won his first Vuelta title in 2019 and successfully defended in 2020, despite his heartbreaking defeat to Tadej Pogacar at that year's Tour de France.

He crashed out of Le Tour in 2021 but bounced back in style, winning Olympic gold in Tokyo before clinching a third-straight Vuelta triumph to match the feats of Tony Rominger (1992 to 1994) and Roberto Heras (2003 to 2005).

Now, Roglic has history in his sights. Only Heras has won the Vuelta on four occasions, but no rider has ever won it over four successive years.

The 32-year-old Roglic's Tour de France again ended early this year, as he watched team-mate Jonas Vingegaard storm to success and set up a rivalry with Roglic's compatriot Pogacar that should enthral for years to come; but at the Vuelta, Roglic is Jumbo-Visma's main man.

Roglic has won the Vuelta in all of his three appearances, reaching nine stage wins in this period, more than any other rider (Fabio Jakobsen is the next best, with five to his name). He also claimed the points ranking in both 2019 and 2020, and could equal Erik Zabel (three) as joint-second on the all-time list for that classification, behind Sean Kelly, Valverde and Laurent Jalabert (four each).

"Of course the record gives me more motivation, it's special," said Roglic in a press conference on Thursday. "We're going to fight for that."

There are some concerns over his fitness after the injury he suffered at Le Tour, however.

Roglic said: "At certain moments I still feel some pain, but it is already much better than before. We'll see. If I get to the start here, it means I'm ready too. But I'll have to wait and see in the coming days and weeks to find out how it really goes."

Roglic could also feasibly set a record for the most stages wearing the red leader's jersey. He is currently level with Herras on 36, 12 behind Alex Zulle's haul of 48.

A last dance for Vuelta veterans?

Valverde, of Movistar, will be making his 16th Vuelta appearance. The 42-year-old has achieved more podium finishes in the general classification than any other rider, having done so on seven occasions, including his 2009 success.

If he completes the race, Valverde, who has won 12 individual stages at La Vuelta, will equal Federico Etxabe, Chente Garcia Acosta and Inigo Cuesta as riders who have finished the most times (14).

"To win a stage would be incredible," Valverde said on Thursday. "I don't believe I will be at the same level as the best during 21 days, but we do have a team-mate who can be among the top three or perhaps even win. What I see for myself is that I will try to win a stage."

Chris Froome, meanwhile, is a two-time Vuelta champion who is out to prove himself once more.

The seven-time Grand Tour winner has been struggling with COVID-19 in the build-up this time but is set to make his eighth appearance in the race, having finished on the podium four times, taking the 2011 and 2017 titles.

The first of those victories was only awarded to Froome in 2019 after original race winner Juan Jose Cobo was disqualified for a doping offence.

In a stellar career, Froome has become the first British rider to win all three of the biggest races in cycling.

 

Nairo Quintana has elected not to ride in the Vuelta a Espana, with his decision coming a day before the start of the season's final Grand Tour gets under way in the Netherlands.

On Wednesday, Quintana was retrospectively disqualified from this year's Tour de France for an in-competition drug infringement.

The Colombian finished sixth in the General Classification, his first top-10 Grand Tour finish since the 2019 Vuelta and his best performance in the Tour de France since 2016.

However, the UCI announced that two samples of Quintana's blood showed traces of tramadol, a banned substance.

The 32-year-old was given 10 days to appeal the ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), though he has not been banned from competition as it is a first offence.

On Thursday, the Colombian confirmed he would not be riding in the Vuelta, despite initially stating he would be doing so.

In a widely reported statement, Arkea-Samsic rider Quintana said: "I communicate that I will not participate in the Vuelta to assert my reasons before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, I will return to the calendar races at the end of the season."

Quintana had responded to the allegations via his social media channels, stating: "I have been surprised by the announcement of the UCI of an infraction for use of tramadol.

"I am completely unaware of the use of this substance and I deny having used it in my career.

"With my team of lawyers we are exhausting all the processes to assume my defence.

"I also want to ratify that I will be in the Vuelta a Espana, riding my best for the team, my country and my fans."

Nairo Quintana has been disqualified from the 2022 Tour de France for an in-competiton drug infringement.

The Colombian finished sixth in this year's competition, which was won by Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard.

However, the UCI announced on Wednesday that two samples of Quintana's blood showed traces of tramadol, a banned substance.

The 32-year-old has 10 days to appeal the ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), though he has not been banned from competition as it is a first offence.

Quintana's sixth place in the General Classification was his first top-10 Grand Tour finish since the 2019 Vuelta a Espana, and his best performance in the Tour de France since 2016.

The Arkea-Samsic team announced that Quintana had signed a contract extension until 2025 on Tuesday, though he was not named in their squad for this year's Vuelta a Espana, which starts on Friday.

The team released a statement on Wednesday saying: "The Arkea-Samsic team took note of the notification from the UCI and received by Nairo Quintana informing him of the presence of tramadol in two samples of dried blood collected during the last Tour de France.

"Since March 1, 2019, the UCI medical regulations have provided for the banning of tramadol in competition for medical reasons.

"Furthermore, this violation of the UCI medical regulations does not lead to a suspension for the rider.

"The Arkea-Samsic team will not provide any further comment."

Chris Froome was "pretty heavily" affected by coronavirus and his preparations for the Vuelta a Espana have been disrupted as a result.

Froome competed at his 10th Tour de France in July but was forced to abandon the race after stage 17 when he tested positive for COVID-19.

The Israel-Premier Tech rider sat 26th overall, having achieved his best Tour stage result since 2018 when he finished third on stage 12 up the Alpe d'Huez.

Froome is a seven-time Grand Tour champion but has never been able to recover his peak performance since a crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine, which left him in intensive care.

The 37-year-old now heads to Spain, where he won his first Grand Tour general classification jersey in 2011 but has revealed it has taken longer than he expected to recover from coronavirus.

Froome said in a press conference: "I felt as if I was coming into really good shape, certainly in the second and third week [of the Tour de France].

"So it was unfortunate to leave before the end of the race and not make it to Paris. But I think I was one of many who unfortunately got COVID.

"Unfortunately, it did affect me pretty heavily. I was symptomatic, probably for about 10 days. Then even after starting training, again, I was still really, really struggling to get the hard training done.

 

"I also had to follow the advice of the medical team, which was to not try and push it. I think a lot of people with COVID had made the mistake to try and start too early again. So it really did disrupt I guess my preparations for the Vuelta.

"I was really hoping to finish the Tour and then build on that condition almost immediately afterwards to get into the Vuelta. But unfortunately, with COVID, I wasn't able to do a lot of that work.

"Having said that, I have had a good past 10 days of training now. I'm a little bit unsure of where I'm at. I'm hoping just to survive the first week the best I can and look to really build into the race."

Froome has won the Vuelta twice, following up his success in 2011 with a triumph in 2017.

"The Vuelta is a really special race for me," he said. "The Vuelta is a race where back in 2011 I really had my breakthrough as a Grand Tour contender.

"It's a race where I love what the Vuelta tests in people. If you look at the GC battle of the Vuelta, it's brutal. Normally many more uphill finishes, many more mountain stages than other Grand Tours. It's a race that I've always enjoyed."

Two-time Grand Tour winner Egan Bernal will make his return to racing on Tuesday after seven months out of action following a serious training crash.

The INEOS Grenadiers rider was training near his home city of Bogota in January when he struck a parked bus while riding at high speed.

The collision left Bernal requiring surgery on his spine, while he also suffered two collapsed lungs, fractures in his right leg and kneecap, a broken thumb and a lost tooth.

Bernal spent several days in intensive care and later said the crash nearly killed him, while he believed there was a 95 per cent likelihood "of becoming a paraplegic".

In February, he had a second operation on his spine before eventually returning to the bike a month later.

Now, his team confirmed he will make his comeback to racing in the Tour of Denmark – which begins on Tuesday – after this final step of his rehabilitation was approved by medical staff.

Bernal said: "After what happened to me in January this has been the moment I've been waiting for – to race with my team-mates again.

"I can't emphasise enough how hard the last eight months have been for me, both physically and mentally. That day, and the journey that I have been on since will be a part of me forever, it's something you never forget, as is the support that I have received from my family, my girlfriend, the team, INEOS as well as my fans.

"As humans we really rely on each other in our times of need, and this year has been a time of need for me – I can't thank everyone who has been there for me enough.

"That support has been invaluable in motivating me every day to work hard to be able to race again. To you all, a heartfelt thank you."

Deputy team principal, Rod Ellingworth, added: "When you think back to where Egan was only eight months ago, it's incredible the progress he has made.

"He's shown the world the true strength of his character, and demonstrated remarkable grit in returning to race-readiness. We're still on a journey with Egan, but lining up at the Tour of Denmark is a significant and hard-earned milestone.

"Egan's long-term recovery has and continues to guide our medical and physical programme of support – our targets have always been performance-led not race-led, and the entire INEOS Grenadiers family is proud and delighted for Egan that his determination and application will now see him return to the race environment he has craved for so long."

Primoz Roglic has been passed fit to go in search of a fourth consecutive Vuelta a Espana title.

Roglic abandoned the Tour de France last month after suffering a dislocated shoulder and a back injury when he crashed on stage five.

The Slovenian battled on despite those injuries before withdrawing ahead of stage 15.

Roglic will be Jumbo-Visma's main man in the Vuelta, though, having recovered to ensure he will be on the start line in Utrecht on Friday.

Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman said: "We are delighted that Primoz can start in the Vuelta after his serious injury in the Tour de France.

"Logically, he didn't have the best preparation, but we greatly respect him for how he managed to get ready.

"We have a good and balanced team at the start that can optimally support Primoz in all areas. It is a pity that Koen Bouwman will not make it to the start due to his injury. We would have loved to see him in the Vuelta in the great form he displayed during the last Giro d'Italia."

American climber Sepp Kuss and double time trial world champion Rohan Dennis from Australia are among Roglic's team-mates in the Vuelta.

Trinidad and Tobago athletes who won medals at the recently concluded 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, will have some extra cash to spend this year under the twin-island republic Ministry of Sports’ Reward and Incentives Framework, according to reports.

Under the programme, cyclist Nicholas Paul and sprinter Jereem Richards will be the primary beneficiaries as both men are responsible for the three gold medals the country won in Birmingham.

Paul won gold in the keirin, silver in the match sprint and bronze in the 1000m time trials and is set to receive TT$437,500 while Richards, who won the 200m title in a Games record 19.80 and anchored the country’s 4x400m relay to the gold medal is set to receive TT$375,000.

According to the Trinidad Guardian, athletes competing in relay team events will earn $125,000 each for a gold medal, $62,500 for silver and for bronze, $31,250. Individual gold medals get a whopping TT$250,000.

That means Dwight St Hillaire, Asa Guevara and Machel Cedenio will each get $125,000 and the members of the 4x100 metres team - Jerod Elcock, Eric Harrison Jnr, Kion Benjamin and Kyle Greaux - will each get $62,500 for their silver medal run.

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