OLBIA, Sardinia — Lukas Postlberger had a dream Grand Tour debut as the Austrian surprisingly won the opening stage of the 100th Giro d’Italia to claim the pink jersey on Friday.
Victory was expected to go to one of the top sprinters, but Postlberger, a leadout man, hit the front with two kilometers to go in support of Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Sam Bennett, and when a gap opened behind him he simply kept on going.
Caleb Ewan won the bunch sprint for second place followed by Andre Greipel at the end of the 206-kilometer (128-mile) leg along the northern coast of Sardinia, from Alghero to Olbia.
There are two more stages in Sardinia. The second leg on Saturday is a hilly 208-kilometer (129-mile) leg from Olbia to Tortoli.
The Giro ends on May 28.
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.