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Contador wins Criterium du Dauphine prologue

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LES GETS, France — Alberto Contador signaled his strong form a little less than a month before the Tour de France starts with a fine victory in the Criterium du Dauphine prologue on Sunday.

Contador, who won the Tour de France twice and is again among the favorites this year, was the fastest against the clock in the brutal four-kilometer ascent to the top of the Mont Chery in the Alps.

Contador’s former teammate Richie Porte was second, six seconds back, while two-time Tour winner Chris Froome lagged 13 seconds behind in third position.

Contador said: “The climb suited me really well. I didn’t expect to win but I can’t say it’s a surprise to beat Chris Froome.”

The Tour de France starts on July 2 at the Mont-Saint-Michel.

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.