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100th Giro d’Italia starting with 3 stages in Sardinia

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MILAN — The 100th Giro d’Italia next year will start with three stages in Sardinia.

It will be the third time the Italian grand tour has started on the island, although it will be the first time in 10 years.

Fabio Aru, who became the first Sardinian to wear the Giro leader’s pink jersey last year, was present at the announcement on Wednesday in Milan.

“It makes me really proud to know that the Giro will be starting from my home,” Aru said. “It would be really nice to take part in a start like this. We will make our plans for 2017 in November.

“They will be three really lovely stages. There will certainly be a lot of fans. I will certainly have a lot of support and that is a source of great pride.”

The rest of the route will be unveiled on Oct. 25. It is expected the Giro will visit as many of Italy’s 20 regions as possible to mark its 100th edition.

The Giro will set off from Alghero on May 5, 2017, on an undulating 203-kilometer (126-mile) route along the island’s northern coast to Olbia.

Stage two is a hilly 208-kilometer leg from Olbia to Tortoli, which could also end in a sprint, while the final day in Sardinia is a mainly flat 148 kilometers from Tortoli to Cagliari.

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.