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Cyclist Yates can keep racing despite positive doping test

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AIGLE, Switzerland — British cyclist Simon Yates can continue to race despite a positive doping test during the Paris-Nice race, the International Cycling Union said Friday.

An administrative error has been blamed by the Orica GreenEdge team for the positive test on March 12 for Terbutaline, in the form of an asthma inhaler that former track world champion Yates used as part of documented ongoing treatment.

“As per the UCI’s anti-doping rules, such substance does not entail the imposition of a provisional suspension,” the governing body said in a statement.

Orica GreenEdge released a statement on Friday saying it was notified last week about the 23-year-old Yates’ case, and that the inhaler was noted by a team doctor on doping control forms.

But the team said the doctor erred by not formally applying for a therapeutic use exemption for the substance, and so the positive result was flagged by anti-doping authorities.

“This is solely based on a human error that the doctor in question has taken full responsibility for,” Orica GreenEdge said in the statement. “There has been no wrong-doing on Simon Yates’ part.

“The team takes full responsibility for this mistake, and wishes to underline their support for Simon during this process.”

The Orica GreenEdge statement was released in the wake of a brief British Cycling confirmation that a rider tested positive during a race. British Cycling did not identify the rider, or the race, and said the UCI was handling the case.

Orica GreenEdge said it was concerned by the leak of information, and would make no further comment until a full evaluation of the case, “and evidence that the team and Simon Yates are now submitting to the UCI in order to clarify everything.”

Yates can “request and attend the analysis of the B sample,” the UCI said, adding it would not comment further “at this stage.”

In 2013, Yates won gold in the points race at the track world championships in Minsk, Belarus. He finished seventh in the weeklong Paris-Nice race.

2019 Tour will honor 1st victory of 5-time champion Merckx

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BRUSSELS (AP) The start of the 2019 Tour de France will be all about honoring Eddy Merckx in his hometown of Brussels.

Merckx, known as “The Cannibal” for his ferocious taste for victory, won the first of his five Tours in 1969. Half a century later, the Belgian great still sees it as one of the major accomplishments for a cyclist generally considered to be the greatest ever.

“I wore the yellow jersey 96 times. It is the best memory of my career. It still gives me goosebumps,” Merckx said during Tuesday’s presentation of the Grand Depart – the opening weekend of the three-week Tour.

Merckx also won a record 34 Tour stages and is among four riders who won the Tour a record five times. French riders Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, and Spanish great Miguel Indurain are the others.

Tour organizers said it will be the second time the race will set off from the Belgian capital, which hosted the race’s Grand Depart in 1958.

The 2019 race will also mark 100 years since the race leader’s yellow jersey was created.

When it comes to the first two stages on July 6-7, the iconic Wall of Geraardsbergen climb should take center stage.

The 192-kilometer (119-mile) first stage of the Tour will have the Wall, for decades the toughest climb in the Ronde of Flanders classic. The Wall will come early but the stage, which makes a big loop south of Brussels, is still set up for a sprint finish close to the royal palace.

It will also have its stretch of famed Flemish cobblestones and will pass through the hometown of soccer player Eden Hazard.

The second stage will be a 28-kilometer team time trial through the Belgian capital along its wide-open boulevards. The riders will also pass by St. Pieters-Woluwe in suburban Brussels, where Merckx lived as a child and where he got to pull on his first yellow jersey.

From Brussels, it is an easy trek south into nearby France for the rest of the race.

Peter Sagan wins prelude to Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Three-time world road racing champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia made an outstanding start to the 2018 cycling season Sunday when he won the People’s Choice Classic, a prelude to the first World Tour event of the season, the Tour Down Under.

Sagan beat star sprinters Andre Greipel of Germany and Caleb Ewan of Australia in a bunch sprint to win the 50.6 kilometer (31.4 mile) race over 22 laps of a street course in central Adelaide.

The win means Sagan will wear the tour leader’s ocher jersey in the first stage of the six stage Tour Down Under on Tuesday. Sunday’s race does not count toward general classification.

Ewan won the race in each of the past two years and Greipel is the only three-time winner. The 132-strong field that lined up for the race Sunday included seven former winners.