Tom Dumoulin wins Giro d’Italia opening time trial

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APELDOORN, Netherlands — Home favorite Tom Dumoulin won the opening individual time trial of the Giro d’Italia by the finest of margins on Friday.

At the end of the flat 9.8-kilometer (6-mile) route, the Dutchman beat Primoz Roglic of Slovenia by one hundredth of a second.

“It’s incredible. I can almost not describe it in words,” said Dumoulin, who added that he felt sick afterwards. “(Hundredth) of a second is a breath of air and that’s it.

“It’s better than I could have imagined. In front of my home crowd to get the most beautiful jersey in cycling is very special. I did no big mistakes. You always think you could have done this corner a bit better, or that one … it wasn’t my best time trial but I’m wearing this jersey now. I will defend this as long as possible. I don’t think I have the level to compete in the real big mountains.”

Roglic took the lead off Dumoulin’s Giant-Alpecin teammate, Tobias Ludvigsson, who had been in the hot seat for around 90 minutes.

Ludvigsson eventually finished fourth, eight seconds behind the leading duo, and two seconds behind Costa Rican cyclist Andrey Amador.

Another time trial specialist, Fabian Cancellara, was hoping for a victory that would have handed him the first maglia rosa of his long career. But he was hampered by stomach flu and finished eighth, 14 seconds behind Dumoulin.

Overall favorite Vincenzo Nibali, the 2013 champion, was 19 seconds behind in 16th place.

“It was a very explosive time trial, I had to make a really big effort,” Nibali said. “It’s one stage out of the way now. I can be more than satisfied by what’s happened, but let’s just keep our feet on the ground.

“One or two days before a Grand Tour you can feel nervous, and I’m just happy we’re underway now.”

Stefan Kung threatened to challenge Dumoulin’s lead as he was only one second slower at 4.8 kilometers, but he crashed into the barriers. The Swiss rider finished up 16 seconds behind.

The 99th Giro continues in the Netherlands with two sprint stages before an early rest day and a return to Italy. The race ends in Turin on May 29.

Alejandro Valverde retakes overall lead of Tour of Catalonia

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TORTOSA, Spain — Alejandro Valverde defeated Chris Froome and Alberto Contador to win the decisive fifth stage of the Tour of Catalonia on Friday and take the overall lead going into the weekend.

Valverde won after dominating the final climb of the 182-kilometer (113-mile) stage from Valls to Tortosa. The Spaniard finished 13 seconds ahead of both Froome and Contador.

Valverde opened a 21-second lead over Froome and a 47-second gap to Contador in the overall standings.

American Tejay van Garderen, the leader going into Friday’s stage, dropped to sixth place overall, 1 minute, 18 seconds behind Valverde.

Froome, the three-time Tour de France winner, had an eventful day. He had a puncture about 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the stage, and was also forced to momentarily stop with about 45 kilometers (28 miles) to go because of a crash in front of him.

Saturday’s sixth stage will see riders travel 189 kilometers (117 miles) from Tortosa to Reus.

The week-long race in northeastern Spain ends Sunday in Barcelona.

Greg Van Avermaet wins E3 Harelbeke after three-man sprint

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HARELBEKE, Belgium — Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet came out on top of a three-man sprint to win the E3 Harelbeke as Belgian riders secured a 1-2-3 finish in the one-day cobbled race on Friday.

Van Avermaet edged former world champion Philippe Gilbert. Oliver Naesen completed the podium.

Tom Boonen broke up the peloton when he attacked on the Taaienberg hill. A small group followed, and the Belgian trio pulled away on the steep cobbled slopes of the Oude Kwaremont, and stayed ahead all the way to the finish.

The Belgians sized each other carefully in the final kilometer. Naesen ignited the sprint 250 meters from the line. He made his move too soon, and Van Avermaet caught him with ease, then resisted Gilbert’s response to claim his first win in the E3.

It was Van Avermaet’s second important win this season following his success in the Het Nieuwsblad in February.

Gilbert, who was runner-up to Yves Lampaert in the Dwars doo Vlaanderen race midweek, looked strong in the finale but maybe chose too big a gear, failing to catch his rival.

“It gives me a lot of confidence for Flanders,” Van Avermaet said, referring to the Tour of Flanders, the region’s big race on April 2.

The race was marred by crashes, and Tony Gallopin of France was forced to withdraw with a suspected left wrist injury. His Lotto Soudal team said he would be taken to hospital for a medical checkup. World champion Peter Sagan was also caught up in a crash 42 kilometers from the finish but appeared uninjured.