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Valverde wins Flech Wallonne for record 4th time

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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.

Brazilian cycling team faces 2nd ban for persistent doping

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AIGLE, Switzerland (AP) Brazilian team Soul Brasil Pro Cycling faces another ban from racing after two more riders were implicated in doping.

The International Cycling Union says the team will be judged by its disciplinary panel which can impose bans of up to one year.

Cycling rules allow teams to be suspended if two riders are caught doping in a one-year period.

In December, the team’s riders were suspended for 55 days after three cases involving the banned blood booster CERA since July. They included Kleber Ramos of Brazil, who competed in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic road race.

The UCI says the latest cases involve biological passport results for Alex Correia Diniz, who is provisionally suspended, and an allegation against Otavio Bulgarelli of tampering with a doping sample.

Van Avermaet wins Gent-Wevelgem for two victories in three days

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GENT, Belgium (AP) Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet won his second race in three days Sunday, beating fellow Belgian Jens Keukeleire in a two-man sprint finish to take the Gent-Wevelgem classic.

World champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia, who won last year’s race, finished third.

The 249-kilometer (154.7-mile) race through Belgium included two ascents of the steep, cobbled Kemmelberg hill, one of the iconic climbs of the spring classics season.

Last year’s race was overshadowed by the death of Belgian rider Antoine Demoitie after a fall.

Sagan fell Friday in the E3 Harelbeke, which Van Avermaet also won to add to his victory last month in Het Nieuwsblad.