ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Italian cyclist Alberto Bettiol took advantage of an early start and dry course Tuesday to win the 5.5-kilometer time trial prologue at the Tour Down Under.
Bettiol was the fourth of 139 riders to start the stage over a tight, twisting course along the Torrens River in downtown Adelaide. He set a time of 6 minutes, 19.73 seconds, then sat for more than two hours as none of the later riders managed to better his mark.
Rain set in soon after he finished, making conditions slippery for many riders. The course dried briefly later in the stage but the rain fell again before the end.
Bettiol's last stage victory came in the 2021 Giro d’Italia. He also won the Tour of Flanders in 2019.
“I’m really happy and I feel really lucky at the same time,” Bettiol said. “I knew I could do well but for sure not to win.
“There were plenty of better riders, especially in a shorter course like this. But Australia helped me, the weather helped me and I really appreciate the effort my team gave me to give me the best product, the best material, the best support.”
Bettiol finished eight seconds ahead of American rider Magnus Sheffield, while Danish rival Julius Johansen was two seconds further back in third.
Bettiol will wear the tour leader’s ocher jersey in the first road stage on Wednesday. The 150-kilometer stage begins and ends in the township of Tanunda in the Adelaide Hills, passing through the Barossa Valley wine-growing region.
“I like this race and I’ll be really proud to wear the jersey of the Tour Down Under tomorrow morning,” Bettiol said. “It’s a prologue and the real race starts tomorrow.”
More AP Asia sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports-asia and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports