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.
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.”
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.