Irish champion Bennett wins first stage of Tour Down Under

Sam Bennett

Bennett made his Deceuninck-QuickStep debut in Australia

Irish national Road Race champion Sam Bennett leads the Tour Down Under after winning a tight sprint finish in Tuesday’s first stage.

The Waterford rider, 29, edged out Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen by half a bike at the end of the 150km stage.

It is the perfect start to the new season for Bennett, in his first race for his new Deceuninck-QuickStep team.

“I’d be lying if I’d said I didn’t feel the pressure to get that first win,” he said.

“I am very happy it came today, on the very first stage of the season’s first race.”

Bennett enjoyed an excellent 2019 campaign, becoming national champion in June before claiming two stage victories at the Vuelta a Espana.

He now takes a four-second lead over Philipsen into the second stage of the Australian tour.

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Women’s Tour: Suffolk to host final stage of 2020 event

Jolien D'Hoore

Belgian rider Jolien D’Hoore won last year’s Women’s Tour stage in Suffolk

The final stage of the 2020 Women’s Tour is to take place in Suffolk – the seventh stage of the event held in the county in the past six years.

Stage six will see cyclists race from Haverhill to Felixstowe on 13 June.

Britain’s Lizzie Deignan was last year’s champion, becoming the first cyclist to win the event twice.

In 2019 Suffolk hosted the first stage of the Women’s Tour between Beccles and Stowmarket, with Belgian rider Jolien D’Hoore coming out on top.

The county’s previous six stages have brought in more than £5.3m for the local economy.

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Geraint Thomas: Team Ineos rider to focus on Tour de France

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas (right) helped team-mate Egan Bernal win the 2019 Tour de France

Geraint Thomas is making the Tour de France his “big goal” for 2020 as he looks to win a second yellow jersey.

Thomas, the 2018 champion, finished second behind Team Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal at the 2019 race and the duo have been named co-leaders this year.

Wales’ Thomas, 33, said: “I want to go to the Tour one more time as a big hit.

“It motivates me and that’s why I’m just going to go out and give everything I can to get there in the best shape.”

This year’s Tour starts on Saturday, 27 June in Nice and concludes on Sunday, 19 July in Paris.

Less than a week later, the Tokyo Olympics begin and Thomas, who has won two gold medals on the track, said he would also “love to ride the road race and time trial” in Japan.

However, he knows the Tour may hamper his ambitions in Japan, with the men’s road race taking place on 25 July and the time trial four days later.

“The Olympics is still important to me,” he said in an interview on the Team Ineos website.

“That’s the reason why I fell in love with sport, watching the Olympics as a kid in my front room on the floor, just wanting to be a part of it.

“With the Tour and the Olympics, it’s such a quick turnaround. Considering the time difference [Japan is eight hours ahead of France], I think ideally it probably would be another week.

“But I’ve done it a few times where I’ve come out of the Tour and gone straight into some races. I think it’s just a mindset thing.”

Fellow Briton Chris Froome has confirmed he will attempt to win a record-equalling fifth Tour de France in 2020, which means Team Ineos could have three Tour champions in their squad.

Froome, 34, is training again after being seriously injured during the Criterium du Dauphine in June.

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Hilliest ever Tour de Yorkshire route revealed

Marianne Vos

Marianne Vos celebrates victory in the inaugural Women’s Tour de Yorkshire last year

The 2020 Tour de Yorkshire will feature more climbing than ever before, with ascents of Buttertubs and Grinton Moor, which were washed out of last year’s World Championship course.

The four-day men’s race begins with a 176.5km (110 mile) stage between Beverley and Redcar on 30 April.

The two-day women’s race follows stages two and three of the men’s race with equal prize money on offer.

Leeds will host the finish of the men’s race on 3 May.

It is the sixth staging of the race that is a legacy of the county hosting the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France.

“Once again, the team at Welcome to Yorkshire have done a tremendous job in designing such a beautiful, challenging and varied route,” said Christian Prudhomme, who also directs the Tour de France for organisers ASO.

“They are both harder than ever before, and when you factor in the millions of fans that will be lining the route, we know that the 2020 edition will be one to remember.”

Skipton hosts the start of the women’s race, and stage two of the men’s race, with both races following the same route through the Yorkshire Dales to Leyburn.

Saturday’s second stage for the women starts in Barnsley and heads across the moorland to Huddersfield, with the men taking a slightly longer route.

And Leeds will host Sunday’s finish for the men after a punishing day featuring seven categorised climbs in North Yorkshire and a trip up the famous cobbled main street in Haworth.

The 2019 races were won by Britain’s Chris Lawless and the Netherlands’ Marianne Vos.

Yorkshire hosted last year’s Road World Championships in September but the route had to be revised because heavy rain made conditions tricky for competitors.

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‘He takes an early bath!’ Wet Yorkshire weather causes two HUGE crashes

2019 Tour de Yorkshire

Men’s race

Stage one: Thursday, 30 April – Beverley to Redcar (176.5km)

Stage two: Friday 1 May – Skipton to Leyburn (124.5km)

Stage three: Saturday, 2 May – Barnsley to Huddersfield (134km)

Stage four: Sunday, 3 May – Halifax to Leeds (177.5km)

Women’s race

Stage one: Friday, 1 May – Skipton to Leyburn (124.5km)

Stage two: Saturday, 2 May – Barnsley to Huddersfield (114.5km)

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Froome training again after injury and targeting fifth Tour de France win

Chris Froome on the podium after winning the 2017 Tour de France

Chris Froome enjoyed the last of his four Tour de France wins in 2017

Britain’s Chris Froome has confirmed that he will go for a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title in 2020.

The Team Ineos rider is training again after being seriously injured during the Criterium du Dauphine last June.

Defending champion Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas, the 2018 winner, will spearhead the team at this year’s Tour.

“The only appointment I’ve set myself is the Tour de France,” said Froome, 34. “The prospect of going for a fifth yellow jersey is massive for me.”

Froome suffered a fractured right femur, a broken hip, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs, and lost consciousness after crashing on a practice ride during the Criterium du Dauphine in Roanne, France.

His four victories came between 2013 and 2017. and only four riders have won the Tour five times – Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

“It’s such a motivation,” Froome added. “On top of that now, coming back from this injury, it’s even more reason for me to try to get back there.

“There are no guarantees in sport, there are no guarantees that I’ll be back to challenge for it, but I’m going to give it absolutely everything I’ve got.”

Froome’s crash ruled him out of last year’s Tour and in his absence Colombian Bernal, 23, won ahead of Welshman Thomas, 33.

Team Ineos boss Sir Dave Brailsford has confirmed the British team are planning on the pair being co-leaders on this year’s Tour.

“As it stands at this moment in time, we are looking at Richard [Carapaz] going to race the Giro [d’Italia] and try and retain his title there, and then for Geraint and Egan to take on the challenge of, and focus on, the Tour,” said Brailsford.

“Of course, Chris coming back, he’s still really craving that big fifth win and he’s working very, very hard to get back to the level required to be competitive.”

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