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Brambilla leads Giro after his 1st Grand Tour stage win

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AREZZO, Italy (AP) Gianluca Brambilla moved into the overall lead of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday with his first ever Grand Tour stage win after a solo attack at the end of the eighth stage.

The Italian attacked with 25 kilometers (16 miles) remaining of the 186-kilometer leg from Foligno to the Tuscan town of Arezzo to open up a significant gap. There was no one in sight as he crossed the line with his arms raised in celebration.

Matteo Montaguti was 1 minute, 6 seconds slower than Brambilla, with Moreno Moser 21 seconds further back in an Italian one-two-three.

Tom Dumoulin was dropped on the main climb of the Alpe di Ponti and finished more than three minutes behind Brambilla, handing the Etixx-QuickStep rider the pink jersey.

“It’s fantastic,” said Brambilla, who dedicated the win to his daughter, who was born 20 days ago. “From the beginning of the Giro I decided to aim for this stage and I did it, even if I still don’t believe it.”

Brambilla praised his teammate Matteo Trentin, saying “he was the rider who did the greater part of the work until I attacked on the hardest part of the climb.”

The main group of favorites finished 1.41 behind Brambilla, with Ilnur Zakarin moving into second overall, 23 seconds behind, and Steven Kruijswijk 10 seconds further back.

Brambilla made his move on the dirt roads up the Alpe di Ponti, swiftly passing Montaguti, who had attacked shortly before him.

The gap between the two Italians was never significant until they reached the flat and Brambilla was able to pull away.

Sunday could see one of the most important stages of the race, with a hilly 40.5-kilometer time trial from Radda to Greve in Chianti in the heart of the Tuscan red wine region.

Time-trial specialist Dumoulin could move back up the standings. The Belgian, who has spent all but one day in the pink jersey since winning the opening time trial, fell to 11th – 1.05 behind Brambilla.

The 99th Giro ends in Turin on May 29.

Ferdy Kuebler, 1950 Tour de France champion, dies at 97

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LONDON — Ferdy Kuebler, who came back from injury and the interruption of World War II to win the 1950 Tour de France, has died. He was 97.

The Swiss won an epic battle with French rider Louison Bobet in the 1950 race, and became world champion the following year.

Andre Haefliger, the chief reporter at Swiss magazine Schweizer Illustrierte, said from Kuebler’s home in Switzerland on Friday that he could confirm the death on behalf of Kuebler’s widow, Christina. Kuebler died Thursday at a Zurich hospital. He had been suffering from a cold.

Switzerland’s national cycling association, Swiss Cycling, paid tribute to Kuebler and offered its condolences to his family. “We are taking leave of one of the greatest cycling legends of our time,” it wrote on its website.

For many, his biggest achievement was winning the Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege races, then held on successive days, in both 1951 and 1952.

In an era of marathon races on poor roads, Kuebler also won the 1953 Bordeaux-to-Paris after 570 kilometers (356 miles) and more than 14 hours in the saddle.

Born July 24, 1919, into a poverty-stricken family near Zurich, Kuebler knew as a child that he wanted to be a professional cyclist.

Forced as a teenager to find work to support his family, he got a job delivering bread by bicycle.

“I had to climb the mountain up to four times a day. That was how I trained for my career. I told myself: one day you will be a cyclist,” Kuebler said in a 2003 television documentary.

Later, as a Zurich office worker, Kuebler cycled the 100-kilometer (63-mile) round trip from home.

World War II broke out as he was starting to make his name as a cyclist. Kuebler was drafted into the Swiss army.

“I lost five or six of my best years,” he said.

An accident in 1946 that hospitalized him for two months almost ended his postwar career.

He came back in 1947 and started his first Tour, aged 28. He won the first stage, becoming the first post-war wearer of the famed yellow jersey.

In 1950, third-placed Kuebler took over the race lead when Italy’s team of riders withdrew, accusing spectators of assaulting them.

He finished the 4,773 kilometers (2,983 miles) 9 minutes, 30 seconds ahead of Belgium’s Stan Ockers, with Bobet third.

Kuebler chose not to race another Tour until 1954. He finished second, behind Bobet.

After retiring at age 38, Kuebler trained as a ski instructor and worked on the Swiss slopes for 25 winters. In summer he did publicity for the Tour de Suisse and traveled with the race as an official for 35 years.

Kuebler said there was never any other career for him except cycling.

“I always said if I came back to earth – which I hope will happen – I would be a cyclist again,” he said.

New Zealanders join Lance Armstrong in early morning ride

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Several hundred cyclists turned out Tuesday for an early morning ride with Lance Armstrong, who is in New Zealand to film a commercial for a local brewery.

Armstrong issued an invitation by social media to join him cycling around Auckland’s waterfront and a crowd estimated at up to 1,000 turned out.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from cycling in 2013 after admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.

Armstrong told the New Zealand Herald newspaper that he was glad to know he still has some support.

New Zealand’s Lion Breweries has confirmed it brought the 45-year-old Texan to New Zealand. In an internal staff email, the brewer said “we are using Lance to tell a cautionary tale called `The Consequence’, which depicts how much you stand to lose when you pursue success at all costs.”

“We wanted to highlight that actions have consequences and we couldn’t think of anyone better to demonstrate that than Lance,” the email said.

Armstrong arrived in Auckland on Sunday from Houston, telling reporters he is in New Zealand on business but has bought his bike and golf clubs.

He took part in a ride later that day with a small group including New Zealand Ironman triathlon champion Cameron Brown.