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Valverde adds Basque Country title to superb start to season

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EIBAR, Spain — Alejandro Valverde won the Tour of Basque Country after holding off defending champion Alberto Contador in the decisive time trial on Saturday.

Valverde won the six-day race in northern Spain by 17 seconds from Contador, the two-time Tour de France winner.

The win came just two weeks after the 36-year-old Valverde beat Contador and reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome to claim the Tour of Catalonia.

“There can be no doubt about it, this is the best start to a season of my career,” Valverde said. “With everything that I have won I will head into the classics incredibly calm. If I win one, then I won’t have to race the rest of the year!”

Primoz Roglic won the final stage, a 27-kilometer (17-mile) time trial starting and finishing in Eibar, in 36 minutes. It was the Slovenian’s second stage win this week. Valverde was the next fastest at nine seconds behind, followed by Ion Izagirre and Contador.

Valverde, a Movistar rider, took the lead on the mountainous fifth stage on Friday.

Valverde also won the five-day Tour of Andalusia and single-day Tour of Murcia, also in Spain, this season.

Australia’s Michael Matthews wins Tour of Romandie prologue

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FRIBOURG, Switzerland (AP) Michael Matthews of Australia won the opening Tour of Romandie prologue on Tuesday for his first victory of the season.

Matthews was one second faster than Tom Bohli of Switzerland on the 4-kilometer (2-1/2 mile) route around Fribourg. Primoz Roglic of Slovenia was third.

After a stellar 2017, when he won two Tour de France stages and the green jersey as most consistent finisher, Matthews had a low-key European spring season.

The Team Sunweb rider told Swiss broadcaster RTS it was a “massive relief” to get his first win.

The six-day race through Switzerland’s French-speaking region continues Wednesday with a 166-kilometer (103-mile) ride from Fribourg to Delemont. It includes three category 2 climbs.

Andy Rihs, Swiss owner of cycling, soccer teams, dies at 75

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) Andy Rihs, a Swiss businessman who owned the BMC Racing cycling team and Young Boys soccer club, has died. He was 75.

Rihs died Wednesday in Zurich after “a patient and valiantly endured illness,” the BMC team said Thursday in a statement.

“Our grief is indescribable, but we will carry on his values,” the team said, praising Rihs for his “generosity, his sense of humor, and his infectious laugh.”

Rihs’s death comes with Young Boys close to winning its first Swiss league title in 32 years. Young Boys leads by 11 points with six matches left.

“Andy, thank you for everything. We will miss you,” Young Boys said in a statement.

Rihs’s brother, Hans-Ueli, is also an owner of the club and Stade de Suisse in Bern, known locally as Wankdorf. The stadium staged the 1954 World Cup final.

As BMC owner, Rihs secured a Tour de France title five years after his previous team was involved in a doping scandal. Cadel Evans of Australia wore BMC’s black and red colors to victory in the 2011 Tour.

In 2006, the Rihs-backed Phonak team disbanded after American rider Floyd Landis was stripped of the Tour title.