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U.K. Anti-Doping agency probes alleged wrongdoing in cycling

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LONDON — Britain’s anti-doping agency is investigating allegations of wrongdoing in cycling in response to a report about the activities of Team Sky and former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins.

Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper said U.K. Anti-Doping is investigating Wiggins and Team Sky over the contents of a medical package delivered to the team in France in June 2011. The report did not say what was in the package.

“We are investigating an allegation of wrongdoing in cycling,” UKAD said Friday. “To protect the integrity of the investigation we will not comment further.”

Wiggins won the Dauphine Libere cycling race on the day the package was delivered in June 2011, according to the Mail. There was no immediate response from Team Sky or Wiggins, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013 after winning the Tour de France the previous year.

There has been scrutiny on Britain’s eight-time Olympic medalist’s medical treatment since his confidential medical information last month was in one of the leaks resulting from a cyberattack on the World Anti-Doping Agency database. Wiggins was given three injections of an anti-inflammatory drug between 2011 and 2013 after being granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption, which allows athletes to use otherwise-banned substances because of a verified medical need.

Wiggins has defended his need for a TUE, saying he wasn’t attempting to gain an advantage.

Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France in 2012 as part of Team Sky. He took the anti-inflammatory drug on the eve of that Tour, the 2011 Tour which took place after the Dauphine Libere race, and also before the 2013 Giro d’Italia. Wiggins’ treatment was approved by cycling authorities and there has been no suggestion any rules have been broken over the TUEs.

2019 Tour will honor 1st victory of 5-time champion Merckx

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BRUSSELS (AP) The start of the 2019 Tour de France will be all about honoring Eddy Merckx in his hometown of Brussels.

Merckx, known as “The Cannibal” for his ferocious taste for victory, won the first of his five Tours in 1969. Half a century later, the Belgian great still sees it as one of the major accomplishments for a cyclist generally considered to be the greatest ever.

“I wore the yellow jersey 96 times. It is the best memory of my career. It still gives me goosebumps,” Merckx said during Tuesday’s presentation of the Grand Depart – the opening weekend of the three-week Tour.

Merckx also won a record 34 Tour stages and is among four riders who won the Tour a record five times. French riders Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, and Spanish great Miguel Indurain are the others.

Tour organizers said it will be the second time the race will set off from the Belgian capital, which hosted the race’s Grand Depart in 1958.

The 2019 race will also mark 100 years since the race leader’s yellow jersey was created.

When it comes to the first two stages on July 6-7, the iconic Wall of Geraardsbergen climb should take center stage.

The 192-kilometer (119-mile) first stage of the Tour will have the Wall, for decades the toughest climb in the Ronde of Flanders classic. The Wall will come early but the stage, which makes a big loop south of Brussels, is still set up for a sprint finish close to the royal palace.

It will also have its stretch of famed Flemish cobblestones and will pass through the hometown of soccer player Eden Hazard.

The second stage will be a 28-kilometer team time trial through the Belgian capital along its wide-open boulevards. The riders will also pass by St. Pieters-Woluwe in suburban Brussels, where Merckx lived as a child and where he got to pull on his first yellow jersey.

From Brussels, it is an easy trek south into nearby France for the rest of the race.

Peter Sagan wins prelude to Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Three-time world road racing champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia made an outstanding start to the 2018 cycling season Sunday when he won the People’s Choice Classic, a prelude to the first World Tour event of the season, the Tour Down Under.

Sagan beat star sprinters Andre Greipel of Germany and Caleb Ewan of Australia in a bunch sprint to win the 50.6 kilometer (31.4 mile) race over 22 laps of a street course in central Adelaide.

The win means Sagan will wear the tour leader’s ocher jersey in the first stage of the six stage Tour Down Under on Tuesday. Sunday’s race does not count toward general classification.

Ewan won the race in each of the past two years and Greipel is the only three-time winner. The 132-strong field that lined up for the race Sunday included seven former winners.