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Bouhanni sprints to victory in Dauphine Libere 1st stage

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SAINT-VULBAS, France —¬†Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni claimed the first stage of the Criterium du Dauphine Libere after edging Belgium’s Jens Debusschere in a sprint finish on Monday.

Two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador kept the leader’s jersey he seized in Sunday’s time-trial prologue.

It was Bouhanni’s fourth World Tour stage win this season following successes at Paris-Nice and the Volta Catalunya.

Bouhanni, also an amateur boxer, dedicated his win to Muhammad Ali.

Sam Bennett of Ireland finished third in the sprint.

Contador has a six-second lead over his former teammate Richie Porte of Australia overall. Reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome is in third place, 13 seconds back.

The Dauphine is a traditional warmup for the Tour, which starts on July 2 at Mont-Saint-Michel.

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.

Alejandro Valverde wins his second Tour of Catalonia

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Alejandro Valverde of Spain won his second Tour of Catalonia on Sunday.

Valverde secured the victory by finishing first in the 139-kilometer (86-mile) seventh stage, perfectly timing his final sprint at a hilltop overlooking Barcelona.

He finished the weeklong race more than one minute ahead of Alberto Contador and Marc Soler, who closed out the all-Spanish podium.

Valverde won despite receiving a one-minute time penalty Wednesday after race officials ruled that some Movistar riders pushed one another in Tuesday’s team time trial.

The 36-year-old Valverde had won two other stages.

Valverde also won the race in northeastern Spain in 2009, the same year he clinched the Spanish Vuelta for his only Grand Tour title.

Three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome fell out of contention during Saturday’s stage.