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Defending champ Jonas Vingegaard fit to compete at Tour de France

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Defending champ Jonas Vingegaard fit to compete at Tour de France
Sport

Sport

Defending champ Jonas Vingegaard fit to compete at Tour de France

2024-06-20 23:53 Last Updated At:06-21 00:00

BRUSSELS (AP) — Two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered in time to defend his title next week although there are still doubts about his ability to be competitive.

Vingegaard was seriously injured in a crash in April but will be on the starting line next week when the race kicks off from Italy, the Danish rider’s Visma-Lease a Bike team said on Thursday.

His trusted teammate Wout van Aert, who broke his collarbone and several ribs in March in another crash, will also race in support of Vingegaard.

The three-week Tour starts on June 29 in Florence.

“I am excited to start the Tour. The last few months have not always been easy," Vingegaard said. "We have worked together to get to this moment and, of course, I am very excited to see where I stand. I feel good and very motivated.”

Vingegaard was hospitalized for nearly two weeks in Spain in April following the multi-rider, high-speed crash in the Tour of the Basque Country. He sustained a broken collarbone and ribs and a collapsed lung.

Before the crash, Vingegaard was considered one of the Tour de France favorites alongside Tadej Pogacar, who won the Giro d’Italia and is aiming for a rare double next month.

“I am very proud of Jonas and the coaching team," his team sporting director Merijn Zeeman said. "He is coming back from a serious injury. In the last few weeks, he has shown what a champion he is, both mentally and physically. Of course, we don’t know how far he can go yet. We are being cautious because he has not been able to race, and his preparation has been less than ideal, to say the least. But he will be there, healthy and motivated.”

Van Aert crashed during the Dwars door Vlaanderen in Belgium. He has been training at altitude in the French ski resort of Tignes with Vingegaard.

“Of course, this was not the plan initially, but after my development in the last weeks, I really wanted it, and the team agreed," the Van Aert said. "Our main goal is, of course, to ride a top classification with Jonas. I want to contribute to that with an excellent team.”

Van Aert is widely considered one of the world’s best and most versatile riders. The three-time cyclocross world champion is also the winner of nine Tour stages and the points classification. He's major race wins include Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche, Gent-Wevelgem and the Amstel Gold Race.

Matteo Jorgenson of the U.S. is also part of the squad alongside countryman Sepp Kuss, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, Wilco Kelderman and Jan Tratnik.

“Matteo Jorgenson has already become one of the strongest riders in the team this year, with wins in Paris-Nice and Dwars door Vlaanderen, and his second place in the Dauphiné," Zeeman said. “Sepp Kuss proved last year that he is a great climber, an important domestique, and a leader in his own right with a victory in the Vuelta a España.”

AP sports: https://apnews.com/sports

FILE - Belgium's Wout Van Aert rides during the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race, in Combloux, France, on July 18, 2023. Two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered in time to defend his title next week although there are still doubts about his ability to be competitive. His trusted teammate Wout van Aert, who broke his collarbone and several ribs in March in another crash, will also race in support of Vingegaard. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, File)

FILE - Belgium's Wout Van Aert rides during the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race, in Combloux, France, on July 18, 2023. Two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered in time to defend his title next week although there are still doubts about his ability to be competitive. His trusted teammate Wout van Aert, who broke his collarbone and several ribs in March in another crash, will also race in support of Vingegaard. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, File)

FILE - Matteo Jorgenson of the U.S. rides the last kilometers of the ninth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 182.5 kilometers (113.5 miles) with start in Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat and finish in Puy de Dome, France, Sunday, July 9, 2023. Two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered in time to defend his title next week although there are still doubts about his ability to be competitive. Matteo Jorgenson of the U.S. is also part of the squad alongside countryman Sepp Kuss, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, Wilco Kelderman and Jan Tratnik. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, File)

FILE - Matteo Jorgenson of the U.S. rides the last kilometers of the ninth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 182.5 kilometers (113.5 miles) with start in Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat and finish in Puy de Dome, France, Sunday, July 9, 2023. Two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered in time to defend his title next week although there are still doubts about his ability to be competitive. Matteo Jorgenson of the U.S. is also part of the squad alongside countryman Sepp Kuss, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, Wilco Kelderman and Jan Tratnik. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, File)

FILE - Sepp Kuss of the U.S. rides during the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 22.5 kilometers (14 miles) with start in Passy and finish in Combloux, France, Tuesday, July 18, 2023. Two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered in time to defend his title next week although there are still doubts about his ability to be competitive. Matteo Jorgenson of the U.S. is also part of the squad alongside countryman Sepp Kuss, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, Wilco Kelderman and Jan Tratnik. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, File)

FILE - Sepp Kuss of the U.S. rides during the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 22.5 kilometers (14 miles) with start in Passy and finish in Combloux, France, Tuesday, July 18, 2023. Two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered in time to defend his title next week although there are still doubts about his ability to be competitive. Matteo Jorgenson of the U.S. is also part of the squad alongside countryman Sepp Kuss, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, Wilco Kelderman and Jan Tratnik. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, File)

FILE -Tour de France winner Denmark's Jonas Vingegaard, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, lifts his bicycle after the twenty-first stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 115 kilometers (71.5 miles) with start in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and finish on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, Sunday, July 23, 2023. Two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered in time to defend his title next week although there are still doubts about his ability to be competitive. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

FILE -Tour de France winner Denmark's Jonas Vingegaard, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, lifts his bicycle after the twenty-first stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 115 kilometers (71.5 miles) with start in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and finish on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, Sunday, July 23, 2023. Two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered in time to defend his title next week although there are still doubts about his ability to be competitive. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

Next Article

Student protesters vow 'complete shutdown' in Bangladesh as clashes continue

2024-07-18 19:54 Last Updated At:20:00

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Police clashed Thursday with student protesters attempting to impose a “complete shutdown” in Bangladesh’s capital, following days of violent confrontations during demonstrations over a system of allocating government jobs.

Students have been demonstrating for weeks against a quota system for government jobs they say favors allies of the ruling party, but the protests have escalated since violence broke out between protesters, police and pro-government student activists on the campus of Dhaka University on Monday. Six people were killed on Tuesday, leading the government to ask universities across the country to close and police to raid the main opposition party’s headquarters.

As violence continued to take place on Thursday, Bangladesh’s Law Minister Anisul Huq said in the afternoon that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked him to sit with the protesters for a dialogue, and he was ready to sit down on Thursday if protesters were willling.

On Wednesday night, the protesters announced they would enforce “a complete shutdown” across the country on Thursday in response to security officials’ continued attacks on the campus demonstrators. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party said that it would do what it could to make the shutdown a success.

Clashes continued as protesters attempted to enforce the shutdown Thursday morning. In Dhaka's Uttara neighborhood, hundreds of protesters were chased by police after they blocked the road and chanted. In other places, police fired tear gas and charged with batons disperse the protesters, who threw stones in response. Scores, including police, were injured in the violence, said a spokesperson for the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

Police said protesters attacked and set fire to a traffic police box and vandalized police vehicles amid clashes across the city.

Traffic was thin on Dhaka's usually clogged streets on Thursday morning, while many malls closed. Offices and banks opened, but commuters complained that transport was limited. Police set up checkpoints at the entrances to Dhaka University.

Local television reported violence in other cities including Chattogram and Khulna, while protesters also blocked some major highways.

Salma Rahman, an official at a financial institution in Dhaka, said that she left her car at home and caught a ride on a motorcycle. “Our office has alerted us to stay safe on streets, as there is fear that violence could happen during the shutdown.”

Protesters are demanding an end to a quota system that reserves up to 30% of government jobs for family members of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971. They argue that the system is discriminatory and benefits supporters of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and they want it replaced with a merit-based system.

Hasina’s government halted the quotas after mass student protests in 2018. But last month, Bangladesh’s High Court nullified that decision and reinstated the quotas after relatives of the 1971 veterans filed petitions, triggering the latest demonstrations. The Supreme Court then suspended the High Court’s ruling and is expected to rule on Aug. 7. The government has also appealed the High Court decision in the wake of the protest, according to the attorney general's office.

Huq said the government was seeking an early hearing.

“I have already asked the attorney general to appeal in the Supreme Court on Sunday seeking early hearing,” he told reporters. The Supreme Court had earlier set Aug. 7 to make decision on the quota issue. Friday and Saturday are parts of the weekend in Bangladesh. The court opens Sunday.

“I am requesting all to wait with patience until the verdict is delivered,” Hasina said in a televised address Wednesday evening. “I believe our students will get justice from the apex court. They will not be disappointed.”

While job opportunities have expanded in Bangladesh’s private sector, many people prefer government jobs because they are stable and well paid. Each year, some 400,000 graduates compete for 3,000 jobs in the civil service exam.

Hasina said there would be a judicial probe into Tuesday's deaths and vowed that those responsible would be brought to justice.

“Some precious lives have been lost unnecessarily,” she said. “I condemn every killing.”

U.N. Human Rights chief Volker Türk said in a post on the social media platform X that all acts of violence and deadly use of force must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable. Türk said freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental human rights.

Bangladesh’s ruling party blamed the BNP for the chaos, and Dhaka police raided the party’s headquarters late Tuesday. Detective Chief Harun-or-Rashid said police arrested seven members of the party’s student wing, and said detectives found 100 crude bombs, 500 wooden and bamboo sticks, and five to six bottles of gasoline in the raid.

Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, a senior BNP leader, said the raid was a government attempt to divert attention from the protests.

Students clash with riot police during a protest against a quota system for government jobs, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Students clash with riot police during a protest against a quota system for government jobs, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Policemen fire tear gas to disperse students protesting against the quota system in public service in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Policemen fire tear gas to disperse students protesting against the quota system in public service in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

An injured policeman lies on a street during clashes with students protesting against the quota system in public service in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

An injured policeman lies on a street during clashes with students protesting against the quota system in public service in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Students clash with riot police during a protest against a quota system for government jobs, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Students clash with riot police during a protest against a quota system for government jobs, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Students clash with riot police during a protest against a quota system for government jobs, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Students clash with riot police during a protest against a quota system for government jobs, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Students clash with riot police during a protest against a quota system for government jobs, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Students clash with riot police during a protest against a quota system for government jobs, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, July 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Students advocating for quota reform in public service held a mock funeral at Dhaka University in memory of those who died during clashes, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Students advocating for quota reform in public service held a mock funeral at Dhaka University in memory of those who died during clashes, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Police fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse students shouting slogans in favor of quota system in public service at the university campus, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Police fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse students shouting slogans in favor of quota system in public service at the university campus, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Police fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse students shouting slogans in favor of quota system in public service at the university campus, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Police fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse students shouting slogans in favor of quota system in public service at the university campus, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

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