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Fernando Gaviria sprints to second Giro d’Italia victory on fifth stage

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MESSINA, Sicily — Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria won a bunch sprint at the end of the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday to claim his second victory of this year’s race, while Quick-Step teammate Bob Jungels remained in the overall lead.

Gaviria, who won his first ever Grand Tour stage on Sunday in Sardinia, edged out Italy’s Jakub Mareczko at the end of the undulating 159-kilometer (99-mile) route from Pedara to Messina, the hometown of 2013 and 2016 Giro winner, Vincenzo Nibali.

Mareczko came back from a long way out, storming down the left side of the road to pip Irish rider Sam Bennett, who finished third.

“I’m happy with these two victories. My legs responded as I wanted,” the 22-year-old Gaviria said. “This win isn’t only mine, it belongs to all the people who support me, to my family who are here.”

There was an incredible moment when Luka Pibernik thought he had won the stage and raised his hands in celebration as he crossed the line, forgetting there was another 6.2K lap.

Jungels, of Luxembourg, maintained his six-second advantage over Welshman Geraint Thomas. Fellow Briton Adam Yates remained four seconds further back, with most of the overall favorites.

The crowds were out in force along the route and especially in Messina, eager to show their support for Nibali.

“It was amazing to see so many people on the road sides for Vincenzo Nibali,” Jungels said. “They were very excited. I will try to keep the Maglia Rosa (leader’s pink jersey) at least until Sunday.”

Thursday’s sixth stage sees the Giro move to mainland Italy with a 217-kilometer (135-mile) route from Reggio Calabria to Terme Luigiane.

The Giro ends on May 28 with a 28-kilometer (17.4 mile) individual time trial from Monza’s Formula One track to Milan’s cathedral.

French challenger Lappartient takes over as UCI president

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BERGEN, Norway — French official David Lappartient has beaten British incumbent Brian Cookson in a vote to become president of the International Cycling Union.

Lappartient, the European Cycling Union leader, won the vote 37-8 at the UCI’s annual congress.

Lappartient promised to “regain influence in the Olympic movement, where it has been losing ground.”

Track cycling at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be raced in a velodrome 130 kilometers (80 miles) outside the city, though two more medals were added in men’s and women’s Madison events.

Lappartient also promised to push for bans on some medications.

Elected in 2013 when cycling’s image was battered by doping scandals, Cookson told voters: “I’ve delivered change, I’ve restored the UCI’s credibility.”

Giro d’Italia to open 2018 race in Israel

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JERUSALEM — The Giro d’Italia cycling race will open next year’s event in Israel, marking the first time any leg of the sport’s Grand Tours will take place outside of Europe.

Race organizers say details of the exact route of the three-day leg in Israel will be announced next week. Italian and Israeli ministers will make the announcement, along with Spanish great Alberto Contador.

More than 175 of the world’s best cyclists will arrive in Israel for the race, one of cycling’s top three stage races along with the Tour de France and the Spanish Vuelta. For the first time in its 101-year history, the Giro will begin outside Europe.

Viewed by hundreds of millions across the globe, this will be the biggest sporting event ever held in Israel.