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Kittel wins 2nd Giro stage as Dumoulin retains overall lead

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NIJMEGEN, Netherlands (AP) Tom Dumoulin retained the overall lead of the Giro d’Italia as Marcel Kittel sprinted to victory in the second stage on Saturday.

Kittel waited to start his sprint but once he hit the front no one could challenge him, and the German had time to raise his arms in celebration as he crossed the line several bike lengths ahead of Arnaud Demare.

Sacha Modolo was third on the 190-kilometer (118-mile) route from Arnhem to Nijmegen.

It was Kittel’s third stage win in the Giro. By coincidence, none of those victories have come in Italy, with his two previous successes in Ireland in 2014.

Kittel moved to third in the overall standings, one second behind Dumoulin and Primoz Roglic, who the Dutchman beat by one hundredth of a second in Friday’s opening time trial.

There was an early breakaway of Omar Fraile, Giacomo Berlato, and Maarten Tjallingii, and the trio stayed clear for more than 160 kilometers.

They had an advantage of 10 minutes at one point before the sprinters’ teams started working to bring them back.

Fraile and Tjallingii were the first to be caught, while Berlato went alone for a further 13 kilometers, before he was swallowed up at the end of the first of two 8.6-kilometer circuits to the finish line.

The 99th Giro continues in the Netherlands on Sunday with another sprint stage 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.