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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.

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.