Chris Froome keeps lead intact, set to secure third Tour de France title

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MORZINE, France — Chris Froome kept his lead intact during the final day of climbing in the Alps on Saturday and was poised to secure his third Tour de France title in four years.

Spanish rider Jon Izagirre won the rainy penultimate stage by attacking on the slippery descent from the Col de Joux Plane into Morzine.

Froome, the Kenyan-born British rider who won the Tour in 2013 and 2015, eased up just before the line in the 20th stage and lost a few seconds to his main rivals.

Still, he ended the day with an advantage of 4 minutes, 5 seconds over Romain Bardet of France, with Nairo Quintana of Colombia third, 4:21 behind.

Froome let out a thin smile when he reached the finish as his Sky teammates cheered him on.

The Tour concludes Sunday in Paris with a mostly ceremonial finish on the Champs-Elysees.

Froome wore bandages on his right knee and elbow after crashing on a slippery descent a day earlier. He was never in trouble in this stage, though, as his top lieutenants at Team Sky escorted him up and down each of the day’s climbs.

On the final descent, which had a vertical drop of more than 700 meters (2,300 feet), Froome was extremely careful.

Jarlinson Pantano of Colombia finished second in the stage, 19 seconds behind Izagirre, while 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali crossed third, 42 seconds back. All three riders were part of an early breakaway.

Izagirre had enough time to clap his hands together in celebration as he crossed the line.

A minute of silence was held at the start of the stage to mourn the nine victims of Friday’s shooting in Munich. Froome and the other leaders of the Tour were joined by German national champion Andre Greipel at the front of the peloton as riders removed their helmets and stood silently.

Froome will likely be sipping Champagne in Sunday’s 113-kilometer (70-mile) leg from Chantilly to Paris, which will probably be decided in a mass sprint.

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.