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France win big on final day at UCI Track Cycling World Championships

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HONG KONG — Francois Pervis of France won the men’s 1km time trial on Sunday at the world track cycling championships in Hong Kong.

Pervis, who is also the world record holder, won his fourth rainbow jersey in the event with a time of 1 minute 0.714 seconds.

“My rainbow jersey missed me last year but now I can put again every day for training and it’s good,” Pervis said

Pervis’ countryman Quentin Lafargue and Tomas Babek of the Czech Republic both won their second medals of the championship sharing silver with a time of 1:01.048. No bronze medal was awarded.

Elinor Barker of Britain won her first individual world title. She beat American Sarah Hammer in the women’s 25km points race. Barker led the field after the fourth sprint but Hammer gained a lap in the penultimate sprint to take the lead with 51 points. But Barker fought back, taking the lead back with four laps to go by gaining a lap on her opponent, and finished on 59 points. Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands won bronze with 35 points.

“Before the race I didn’t really want to get a lap,” Barker said. “I just wanted to win the sprints and I was just kind of forced into it by other people getting laps and there was no other way to win the race so I thought, `yeah let’s do it.”‘

Germany’s Kristina Vogel retained her world title in the women’s Keirin event. Vogel beat out the No. 3-ranked Martha Bayona Pineda of Columbia who finished second and Nicky Degrendele of Belgium in third place.

France won the men’s Madison race in the final event of the day. Morgan Kneisky and Benjamin Thomas secured the gold medal with 45 points. They were followed closely by Cameron Meyer and Callum Scotson of Australia with 41 points and Moreno De Pauw and Kenny De Ketele of Belgium on 32 points.

“We had a very very hard start from all the French team,” said Kneisky. “It was hard the first two and three days and the morale of the French team was so good that everyone was motivated to give everything in the end of the week. And the last two days was so incredible for us with Benjamin because he give us the first world title for the French team and today it was Parvis with the kilometer and now we won the Madison and we are very happy.”

Australia finished the world championships with 11 podium finishes – including three gold medals, five silvers and three bronze. France, which had a shaky start to the week but won big on the final two days, finished with five medals in total including three golds, one silver and one bronze. Russia finished third with three golds and a bronze.

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.