Dumoulin dominates time trial at Tour and eyes Olympic gold

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LA CAVERNE DU PONT-D’ARC, France (AP) Tom Dumoulin had this day circled on his calendar for months.

The Dutch cyclist knew that the opening time trial of the Tour de France perfectly suited his strengths.

But when he awoke on Friday to the news of the truck attack in nearby Nice that left at least 84 people dead, many of them children, his plans went out the window.

“I went out of focus this morning, which is normal I guess, when you hear about these terrible things happening just a few hundred kilometers away from you,” Dumoulin said. “But I just went for it and it was a very good time trial. To win with more than a minute on (Chris) Froome and everyone else is something I didn’t expect, and it gives me a lot of confidence.”

Starting well before the race’s overall leaders on a day featuring 70-kph (45-mph) winds, Dumoulin dominated the 37.5-kilometer (23-mile) race against the clock from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont-D’arc, the decorated cave that contains human drawings from about 30,000 years ago.

Dumoulin won the 13th stage with a massive advantage of 63 seconds on Froome, with Portugal time trial champion Nelson Oliveira placing third, 1:31 back.

It was Dumoulin’s second stage victory of this Tour after he also claimed Stage 9 with a solo breakaway through a hailstorm on a mountain-top finish in Andorra.

Few riders besides the top overall contenders can win both a big mountain stage and a time trial in the same Grand Tour. In addition to two stages in last year’s Spanish Vuelta, Dumoulin also won the opening time trial in this year’s Giro d’Italia, and wore the pink jersey for six stages before withdrawing midway through the race with saddle sores.

So when might the Team Giant-Alpecin rider attempt to win a Grand Tour?

“I’ve been asked that a lot of times,” Dumoulin said. “But also winning by a minute in a time trial is not possible when you go full gas every day. So there’s a bit of perspective. I will definitely be focusing on the GC (general classification) in a Grand Tour in the future but I cannot say when that will be.”

Dumoulin is 40th overall, nearly an hour behind race leader Froome.

More importantly, he considers himself the favorite for the time trial at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“I am. I cannot deny that after today,” Dumoulin said. “I have to maintain my condition to maintain that. I will not go full out every day. I’ll keep picking my days and hopefully it will pay off in Rio.”

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf

Cycling’s top riders set for Tour of California next month

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LOS ANGELES (AP) The top men’s and women’s teams will compete next month in the Amgen Tour of California, the premier U.S. cycling race.

The men will cover 645 miles over seven stages from Long Beach to Sacramento from May 13 to May 19. The women will have three of the top five teams for their three-day, 187-mile race that starts May 17 in Elk Grove.

Race owner AEG announced Thursday that Pete Sagan will ride for the BORA-hansgrohe team while Mark Cavendish will go for Team Dimension Data and be joined by Rafal Majka.

Tony Gallopin of AG2R La Mondiale is in the men’s field. So is LottoNL-Jumbo’s Nielson Powless, the race’s best young rider in 2016.

The women feature 2016 champion Megan Guarnier of USA Cycling National Team, Katie Hall of UnitedHealthcare and Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon/SCRAM.

Niki Terpstra wins Tour of Flanders

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OUDENAARDE, Belgium — Niki Terpstra continued his fine form by winning the Tour of Flanders classic with a well-timed late attack on Sunday, becoming the first Dutch rider in more than 30 years to win the race.

Terpstra caught a mini-breakaway group of three riders on the final climb, and the Quick-Step Floors rider moved too far ahead to be caught. Danish rider Mads Pedersen finished second and Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert – last year’s winner – was third.

“It’s a dream come true. Winning Paris-Roubaix (in 2014) and now the Tour of Flanders,” Terpstra said. “Those two races were always a big dream for me when I was young kid. I was already crazy about those two races, I can’t describe how happy I am.”

The previous Dutchman to win the Tour of Flanders was Adri van der Poel in 1986, and this was Terpstra’s second classics win in quick succession. He also won the E3 Harelbeke on March 23.

As he neared the line in Oudenaarde, after 263 kilometers (163 miles) of grueling riding in tricky conditions, Terpstra looked round three times to see where Pedersen was. Finally, he knew victory was assured and raised his arms in the air as he free-wheeled the last 20 meters.

Along with the rain and chilly temperatures, riders weren’t helped by a stray car driving on the course in the Flemish town of Aalst, about 60 kilometers into the race.

Startled riders cautiously navigated around the slow-moving gray car, or moved aside. After a few moments, the driver finally managed to get off the course.

The race, also known as De Ronde, is one of five higher-profile classics along with Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro di Lombardia.

It features 18 short but punishing climbs and five cobblestone sections.

Terpstra caught the front three – which included Pedersen – on the final grueling Paterberg cobble climb and opened up a comfortable lead.

Earlier, a crash on a slippery road took down some 10 riders, sending one of them rolling into a roadside ditch. It was similar to a crash during last year’s race, which took down 2016 winner Peter Sagan. He was not caught up in it this time.

Sagan, who won the Gent-Wevelgem classic for the third time last Sunday, finished sixth.

With 40 kilometers left, the front trio of Pedersen and Dutch pair Sebastian Langeveld and Dylan van Baarle led by about 30 seconds.

Approaching the final 25 kilometers, Italian rider Vicenzo Nibali, the 2014 Tour de France champion, launched a surprise attack. But he did not get far before being caught by the pack.

After catching the front three, Terpstra opened up a lead of 40 seconds. Sagan attacked with 16 kilometers left, deciding it was time to chase him down. But he realized it was a futile chase and eased up with eight kilometers left.

Paris-Roubaix, known as the “Hell of the North” for its even more challenging cobbles, is next Sunday. Last year, Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet overtook Zdenek Stybar just before the line in a thrilling finish.

But Terpstra will be the rider to stop.