Ulissi wins 4th Giro stage; Dumoulin reclaims overall lead

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PRAIA A MARE, Italy — Italian rider Diego Ulissi won the fourth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday by attacking on a climb shortly before the finish, while Tom Dumoulin crossed second to reclaim the overall lead.

Returning to Italy after three stages in the Netherlands, Ulissi put an Italian stamp on the race after the Dutchman Dumoulin took the opening time trial and Marcel Kittel of Germany won the first two sprints.

Riding for the Lampre team, Ulissi stood up out of his saddle and surged ahead on the steepest section — at a gradient of 18 percent — of the short Fortino climb with 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to go. He then maintained his lead on the descent to the finish along the Calabrian seaside.

Completing the hilly 200-kilometer (124-mile) route from Catanzaro to Praia a Mare in nearly five hours, Ulissi finished five seconds ahead of Dumoulin, who edged fellow Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk in a sprint.

It’s the fifth Giro stage win of Ulissi’s career and his 20th victory overall.

“My victory comes after enormous team work,” Ulissi said. “Valerio Conti managed to create the small group and I rode away knowing that, on the final descent, the peloton of chasers would go even faster than me. I gave it everything I had. It’s a huge emotion”.

Dumoulin, of Team Giant-Alpecin, holds a 20-second lead over Bob Jungels, with Ulissi third overall, also 20 seconds behind.

“It’s great to get the Maglia Rosa back,” Dumoulin said, of the race leader’s pink jersey. “That’s what we were working for today. We sent Georg Preidler into the last breakaway. It would have been perfect if he had taken the race lead but it wasn’t to be. At the last gasp, I tried for the stage win but Ulissi was just too strong.”

Pre-race favorite Vincenzo Nibali, the 2013 Giro champion and 2014 Tour de France winner, moved up to sixth, 26 seconds back. Alejandro Valverde, another favorite, is five seconds further behind in seventh.

Previous leader Kittel struggled on several climbs and dropped more than eight minutes behind.

Stage 5 on Wednesday is another hilly 233-kilometer (145-mile) leg from Praia to Benevento.

The 99th edition of the race ends May 29 in Turin.

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.