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Froome warms up for Tour by winning Dauphine for 3rd time

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SUPERDEVOLUY, France (AP) Chris Froome warmed up for the Tour de France by winning the Criterium du Dauphine stage race for the third time on Sunday.

It may prove to be a good omen for Froome, because his other Dauphine wins were in 2013 and 2015 – the years he also won the Tour, which starts July 2.

“It’s a massive satisfaction to win the Dauphine for the third time, it’s a very important race,” the 31-year-old Froome said. “Coming into this week, I was just happy fighting for the podium. It’s a confidence booster ahead of the Tour de France, but there’s still some work to do.”

Froome finished with a winning margin of 12 seconds over Frenchman Romain Bardet, while Tour rival Alberto Contador of Spain was fifth overall.

On a good day for British riders, Stephen Cummings won the final stage thanks to a solo breakaway.

Cummings secured his first ever stage win on the Dauphine after breaking away 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the end of the mountainous 151-kilometer ( 94-mile) ride to the Alpine ski resort of Superdevoluy, beating Irishman Daniel Martin and Bardet by four minutes.

Martin finished third in the standings, while former Sky teammate and key Tour support rider Richie Porte of Australia was in fourth place overall.

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.