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Yves Lampaert wins Dwars door Vlaanderen ahead of teammate Philippe Gilbert

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WAREGEM, Belgium — Belgium’s Yves Lampaert won the Dwars door Vlaanderen race on Wednesday ahead of former world champion Philippe Gilbert as the Quick-Step Floors team secured a 1-2 finish in the cobbled road event.

The Belgian team rode a perfect tactical race, with Gilbert triggering the decisive breakaway before the 25-year-old Lampaert, a former judoka who took up cycling at the age of 17, came through for the biggest victory of his career.

Gilbert easily won the sprint for the runner-up spot, with Alexey Lutsenko completing the podium ahead of Luke Durbridge.

The race was marred by an accident involving American rider Kiel Reijnen, who was taken to the hospital after crashing just before the Eikenberg climb, about 60 kilometers from the finish. The Trek-Segafredo rider was squeezed off the side of the road, and went over his handlebars and into a ditch.

His team later tweeted that Reijnen “appears to be okay, with nothing serious” and that “They are doing X-rays to be sure.”

Gilbert, the Belgian champion, attacked with 77.5 kilometers to go, catching up with six breakaway riders as a group of 21 formed at the front. With pre-race favorites Sep Vanmarcke and Arnaud Demare having missed the break, their Cannondale and FDJ teams organized the chase as the front-runners quickly opened up a 35-second lead.

Vanmarcke accelerated in the Oude-Kwaremont, a cobbled climb with a maximum gradient of 11 per cent, but the classics specialist could not close the gap.

Gilbert attacked again in the Paterberg, an even steeper climb, reducing the leading group to an elite four-man group including Lampaert, Lutsenko and Durbridge.

The quartet stayed together until the final 10 kilometers, when Gilbert tested his rivals with several unsuccessful accelerations before Lampaert’s attack took him across the line first.

Valverde dedicates his Liege-Bastogne-Liege win to Scarponi

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LIEGE, Belgium (AP) Spaniard Alejandro Valverde dedicated his win at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic on Sunday to Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi, who died after a collision with a van while training on Saturday at the age of 37.

Valverde caught Irishman Dan Martin about 200 meters (yards) from the end and comfortably beat him in a sprint to the line. Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski finished in third place, crossing three seconds behind them on the 258-kilometer (160-mile) route.

Valverde is one of the best classics riders in cycling history and his latest win comes four days after winning the Fleche Wallonne (Walloon Arrow) for a record fifth time. Martin was second in that race as well, which was also run over hilly terrain.

Valverde, who turns 37 on Tuesday, has also secured victories at the Tour of Andalusia, Tour of Basque Country and Tour of Catalonia this season. His win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege equaled Italian Moreno Argentin’s tally and is one behind Belgian great Eddy Merckx’s record.

But Valverde’s mind was far away from his own achievements.

“My first words are to dedicate this victory to Michele Scarponi, who was a great friend of mine,” a tearful Valverde said. “My prize money will go to his family.”

A minute’s applause for Scarponi, the Giro d’Italia winner in 2011, was held prior to the start of the race.

Valverde wins Fleche Wallonne for record 5th time

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HUY, Belgium (AP) Alejandro Valverde of Spain won the Fleche Wallonne (Walloon Arrow) for a record fifth time after a fourth straight title in the Belgian classic on Wednesday.

Valverde continued his excellent form with an attack that was unanswered by his rivals 250 meters from the finish in the brutal Mur de Huy, one of cycling’s most difficult climbs.

Daniel Martin of Ireland was second and Dylan Teuns of Belgium completed the podium.

Valverde, who will turn 37 next week, last year became the first rider to win the Fleche Wallonne four times. He also won the race in 2006, 2014 and 2015.

The Spanish rider has been enjoying a great start to the season with victories at the Tour of Andalusia, Tour of Basque Country and Tour of Catalonia.

The Mur de Huy has a 26 percent gradient at its steepest point, and Valverde knows it perfectly. Right from the start of the climb, he remained well-positioned at the front and waited for the right time to surge ahead with a few hundred meters left.

The major spring classics end with Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege race. Valverde will be among the favorites, having already won it three times. The race is run over similarly hilly terrain in southern Belgium.