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Roglic wins individual time trial, Brambilla keeps Giro lead

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GREVE, Italy (AP) Gianluca Brambilla retained the overall lead of the Giro d’Italia after the ninth stage on Sunday as Primoz Roglic won a rainy individual time trial for his first Grand Tour stage victory.

Roglic, who was beaten by 0.01 of a second in the opening time trial, had the advantage of drier roads before the rain began to fall on the hilly 40.5-kilometer (25-mile) route from Radda to Greve in Chianti in the heart of the Tuscan red wine-making region.

The Slovenian clocked 51 minutes, 45 seconds to claim a stage win in his first Grand Tour since switching from ski jumping to cycling.

“I didn’t expect it, I just wanted to do my best,” Roglic said. “In the end I also had some luck with the weather. This is the first time I do a time trial more than 10 kilometers.”

Mathias Brandle was 10 seconds behind Roglic, with Vegard Stake Laengen third, 17 seconds slower than the Team LottoNl-Jumbo cyclist.

Brambilla’s lead was cut to one second by Etixx-QuickStep teammate Bob Jungels. Andrey Amador is third overall, 32 seconds behind Brambilla.

“I’m really happy,” Brambilla said. “Today was different of course, it was difficult to defend the pink jersey … The last turn was very difficult because I saw riders crashing earlier in the day.”

Ilnur Zakarin had looked set to challenge for the pink jersey, especially after a strong start but the Russian had a disastrous day.

He first had to change his bike after an unspecified problem and then needed a second bicycle following a crash. Zakarin crashed again on the tricky final corner and crossed the line 3:51 down and well over a minute behind the GC favorites of Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa.

Monday is a rest day before Tuesday’s 10th stage, a hilly 219-kilometer ride from Campi Bisenzio to Sestola with no flat sections after the first 25K and an uphill finish.

The 99th Giro ends in Turin on May 29.

World champ Peter Sagan to race in Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Three-time world road race champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia has confirmed he will compete in the Tour Down Under in January, the opening World Tour event of the season.

Sagan won the world title last month for the third straight year, becoming the first cyclist to do so. He competed in the Tour Down Under for the first time last year, finishing second on three stages behind Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan.

Sagan, who rides for the BORA-hansgrohe team, said the six-stage Tour Down Under is “the perfect start to the UCI World Tour season each year … a challenging and tough course, warm weather and the passionate fans that cheer for us day in day out no matter what.”

Former Olympic cycling champ fired after positive drug test

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) Former Olympic road cycling champion Samuel Sanchez, who returned a positive doping test in August, had his B-sample confirmed Wednesday and was promptly fired by the BMC Racing Team.

Sanchez’s out-of-competition test revealed growth hormone-releasing peptide 2, or GHRP-2, a drug that increases a body’s level of growth hormone. Several cyclists have tested positive for the drug, among them Italian rider Stefano Pirazzi, who was given a four-year ban earlier this week.

The U.S.-based BMC Team said in a statement Wednesday that it was adhering to its zero-tolerance policy toward doping by terminating the Spaniard’s contract “with immediate effect.”

The 39-year-old Sanchez, who had been provisionally suspended, won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.