HUY, Belgium (AP) Alejandro Valverde of Spain became the first rider to win the Fleche Wallonne four times after a third straight title Wednesday.
Spanish rider Joaquin Rodriguez was the first to attack in the brutal Mur de Huy climb but Valverde countered the move and won the sprint ahead of Julian Alaphilippe.
Valverde also won the race in 2006, 2014 and 2015.
The Mur de Huy is one of cycling’s most difficult climbs, with a 26 percent gradient at its steepest. Valverde remained well positioned at the front from the foot of the climb and waited for the right time to surge ahead with a few hundred meters left.
Dan Martin completed the podium ahead of Wout Poels and Amstel Gold Race champion Enrico Gasparotto.
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Three-time world road race champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia has confirmed he will compete in the Tour Down Under in January, the opening World Tour event of the season.
Sagan won the world title last month for the third straight year, becoming the first cyclist to do so. He competed in the Tour Down Under for the first time last year, finishing second on three stages behind Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan.
Sagan, who rides for the BORA-hansgrohe team, said the six-stage Tour Down Under is “the perfect start to the UCI World Tour season each year … a challenging and tough course, warm weather and the passionate fans that cheer for us day in day out no matter what.”
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) Former Olympic road cycling champion Samuel Sanchez, who returned a positive doping test in August, had his B-sample confirmed Wednesday and was promptly fired by the BMC Racing Team.
Sanchez’s out-of-competition test revealed growth hormone-releasing peptide 2, or GHRP-2, a drug that increases a body’s level of growth hormone. Several cyclists have tested positive for the drug, among them Italian rider Stefano Pirazzi, who was given a four-year ban earlier this week.
The U.S.-based BMC Team said in a statement Wednesday that it was adhering to its zero-tolerance policy toward doping by terminating the Spaniard’s contract “with immediate effect.”
The 39-year-old Sanchez, who had been provisionally suspended, won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.