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Russia wins 3 medals on day 4 of world championships

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HONG KONG (AP) Russia’s Daria Shmeleva won her first individual gold medal in the women’s 500-meter time trial at the world track cycling championships on Saturday.

Shmeleva, ranked No. 6 in the world in the event, finished in 33.282 seconds to beat Germany’s Miriam Welte, whose time of 33.382 seconds left her with silver. Last year’s winner, Anastasia Voinova, qualified with the fastest time but finished in third in 33.454 seconds.

Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky and Jolien D’Hoore led the women’s madison from the start and finished first with 44 points. Elinor Barker and Emily Nelson, from Great Britain, finished in second with 34 points, and despite two falls by Alexandra Manly after being bumped by teammate Amy Cure, the second-ranked Australians finished in third with 26 points.

Chloe Dygert, the 20-year-old American who missed setting a world record in the qualifying round of the women’s individual pursuit by less than a second, won her second gold medal of the championships in the event with a time of 3 minutes, 24.641 seconds. She beat Australia’s Ashlee Ankudinoff, who finished in 3:31.784, in the final, and the United States’ Kelly Catlin won the bronze medal race in 3:30.365.

France’s Thomas Benjamin won the men’s omnium with 149 points. Spain’s Albert Torres Barcelo, who opened the final race as the leader, finished in third with 138 points, with Aaron Gate, of New Zealand, finishing two points behind Benjamin in second.

Russia’s Denis Dmitriev, a bronze medalist in both last year’s world championships and the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, did not lose a heat in the men’s sprint race and claimed the gold medal. He beat the Netherlands’ Harrie Lavresen in the final, with Ethan Mitchell of New Zealand edging Great Britain’s Ryan Owens for bronze.

After Giro crash, Thomas back to support Froome in Tour

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PARIS (AP) Chris Froome will have support rider Geraint Thomas alongside him again as he pursues a fourth Tour de France title in five years.

Thomas opened the year aiming for victory in the Giro d’Italia but was forced to abandon that race because of injuries sustained in a crash caused by a police motorbike.

Thomas recently returned in the Route du Sud and gives Team Sky a second overall option if Froome struggles.

Also named to Sky’s squad Thursday were: Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Michal Kwiatkowski, Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve and Luke Rowe.

Landa was injured in the same Giro crash as Thomas but stayed in the race, winning the 19th stage and posting three more podium finishes to claim the mountains classification.

Henao and Landa should also escort Froome in the mountains.

Froome won the Tour in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

“Aiming for that fourth victory has given me a lot of motivation,” Froome said. “To me, each Tour tells a different story. Every Tour is a different battle in terms of getting that yellow jersey and then trying to hold on to it.”

Froome preceded each of his Tour victories by winning the Criterium du Dauphine but he finished only fourth in the warm-up race this year – with former Sky teammate Richie Porte taking victory. But the Kenyan-born British rider believes he’s still the man to beat.

“We’re ready as a team and I can’t wait for the Tour to start now. Honestly, I just love it. It’s a feeling that you don’t get from any other race,” Froome said.

Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain share the record with five Tour wins each – after Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven victories for doping.

“To win the Tour once is a huge achievement, but to win it a fourth time would be remarkable,” Sky team principal Dave Brailsford said. “We’ve selected a strong and experienced lineup who will support (Froome), and we’ll be looking to use the strength of the team to our advantage.”

The Tour begins July 1 in Duesseldorf and concludes in Paris three weeks later.

Cavendish back racing with Tour de France still possible

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) Mark Cavendish returned to cycling for the first time since March on Thursday at the Tour of Slovenia, and the sprint star remains hopeful he can start the Tour de France next month.

Cavendish had not raced since Milano-Sanremo in March. He came down with mononucleosis caused by the Epstein-Barr virus in April, forcing him to the sideline during his typical Tour prep.

The 32-year-old British cyclist has 30 stage wins in France, four shy of Eddy Merckx’s record.

This year’s Tour begins with a short time trial July 1 in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Cavendish said he’s “fit as I can be after four weeks of training,” but his health will be closely monitored during the four-day Tour of Slovenia. Sam Bennett won Thursday’s opening stage in a sprint.