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Chaves edges Rosa to become first Colombian to win Il Lomardia

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BERGAMO, Italy — Esteban Chaves became the first Colombian to win Il Lombardia in snatching victory from Diego Rosa of Italy by less than a bike wheel on Saturday.

Rosa looked set for a surprise victory after launching his sprint with 250 meters to go, but Chaves came from behind to claim his first Monument win, crossing the line to a huge sigh of disappointment from the Italian fans.

“It’s unbelievable, I can’t believe I won,” said the Orica-BikeExchange rider, who also became the first non-European to win the race in its 110-year history. “I turned pro here in Lombardy with Coldeportes, I lived in Bergamo for two years, and now I won the race. It’s really special.”

Another Colombian, Rigoberto Uran, was third in the final classic of the season, a challenging 241-kilometer (150-mile) route from Como to Bergamo, featuring 4,400 meters of climbing. All three had the same time of 6 hours, 26 minutes, 36 seconds.

Romain Bardet, who was part of the lead quartet, crossed the line fourth, six seconds slower, with the chase group more than a minute further back.

Chaves attacked at the bottom of the Selvino, and was swiftly joined by Uran and Bardet.

Rosa tried to drag Astana leader Fabio Aru back up to the front but the Sardinian told his teammate to go it alone and a fantastic effort saw him do just that, catching the front three at the top of the climb, with 30 kilometers remaining. And they distanced the peloton on the long, twisty descent into Bergamo.

Bardet was dropped on the climb to Bergamo Alta, as was Rosa briefly, but the French rider could not make it back on.

Alejandro Valverde retakes overall lead of Tour of Catalonia

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TORTOSA, Spain — Alejandro Valverde defeated Chris Froome and Alberto Contador to win the decisive fifth stage of the Tour of Catalonia on Friday and take the overall lead going into the weekend.

Valverde won after dominating the final climb of the 182-kilometer (113-mile) stage from Valls to Tortosa. The Spaniard finished 13 seconds ahead of both Froome and Contador.

Valverde opened a 21-second lead over Froome and a 47-second gap to Contador in the overall standings.

American Tejay van Garderen, the leader going into Friday’s stage, dropped to sixth place overall, 1 minute, 18 seconds behind Valverde.

Froome, the three-time Tour de France winner, had an eventful day. He had a puncture about 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the stage, and was also forced to momentarily stop with about 45 kilometers (28 miles) to go because of a crash in front of him.

Saturday’s sixth stage will see riders travel 189 kilometers (117 miles) from Tortosa to Reus.

The week-long race in northeastern Spain ends Sunday in Barcelona.

Greg Van Avermaet wins E3 Harelbeke after three-man sprint

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HARELBEKE, Belgium — Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet came out on top of a three-man sprint to win the E3 Harelbeke as Belgian riders secured a 1-2-3 finish in the one-day cobbled race on Friday.

Van Avermaet edged former world champion Philippe Gilbert. Oliver Naesen completed the podium.

Tom Boonen broke up the peloton when he attacked on the Taaienberg hill. A small group followed, and the Belgian trio pulled away on the steep cobbled slopes of the Oude Kwaremont, and stayed ahead all the way to the finish.

The Belgians sized each other carefully in the final kilometer. Naesen ignited the sprint 250 meters from the line. He made his move too soon, and Van Avermaet caught him with ease, then resisted Gilbert’s response to claim his first win in the E3.

It was Van Avermaet’s second important win this season following his success in the Het Nieuwsblad in February.

Gilbert, who was runner-up to Yves Lampaert in the Dwars doo Vlaanderen race midweek, looked strong in the finale but maybe chose too big a gear, failing to catch his rival.

“It gives me a lot of confidence for Flanders,” Van Avermaet said, referring to the Tour of Flanders, the region’s big race on April 2.

The race was marred by crashes, and Tony Gallopin of France was forced to withdraw with a suspected left wrist injury. His Lotto Soudal team said he would be taken to hospital for a medical checkup. World champion Peter Sagan was also caught up in a crash 42 kilometers from the finish but appeared uninjured.