LORETO, Italy — Dutch champion Mathieu van der Poel caught and passed breakaway rider Matteo Fabbro in the last few hundred metres of an uphill finish to win the penultimate stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico race Sunday.
Simon Yates’ overall lead remained unchanged entering the concluding individual time trial Monday.
Van der Poel, who rides for the Alpecin-Fenix team, finished four seconds ahead of Ruben Guerreiro and Fabbro crossed third with the same time as Guerreiro.
Canadian Michael Woods, who held the overall lead earlier in the race, finished seventh on Stage 7. The 33-year-old from Ottawa, riding for the EF Pro Cycling Team, stands seventh overall — 1:22 behind Yates.
The 181-kilometre route from Pieve Torina to Loreto concluded with a 25-kilometre circuit with two short but steep climbs that had to be completed three times.
“It was an incredible stage, much tougher than I expected,” said Van der Poel, who has won world championship titles in cyclo-cross, plus a European championship in mountain bike racing. “The team did a great job getting me into the break. I knew I had to go full gas on the last climb before the finish. Fabbro was ahead of me and when I passed him I knew I had won. I am very happy for this victory that I have been looking for since the beginning of the Tirreno-Adriatico.”
Yates, the 2018 Spanish Vuelta winner, remained 16 seconds ahead of Rafal Majka and 39 seconds ahead of 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas.
Thomas will be favoured to gain time in the 10-kilometre time trial in San Benedetto Del Tronto.
“Big day. It is what it is,” Yates said. “Everyone is thinking Rafal Majka is not a good time-trialer but that’s not the case. The race is not won.”
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