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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.

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.