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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.

Froome finishes 10th in Ruta del Sol, Wellens wins

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MADRID (AP) Chris Froome finished Spain’s Ruta del Sol race in 10th place behind winner Tim Wellens on Sunday.

The five-stage race in southern Spain was Froome’s first event since the four-time Tour de France winner was found to have failed a doping test at last year’s Spanish Vuelta.

Froome, who denies any wrongdoing, has been ordered to explain to the International Cycling Union why a urine sample he provided at the Spanish Vuelta in September showed a concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol at twice the permitted level.

Wellens, a Belgian rider for Lotto-Soudal, defended his lead over the final day’s time trial.

Wout Poels, of Froome’s Sky Team, was second at eight seconds behind.

Froome, who won the event in 2015, finished 1 minute, 57 seconds behind. He started the time trial on the final day in 14th after a puncture toward the end of Saturday’s fourth stage.

Froome returns to racing despite doping investigation

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MALAGA, Spain (AP) Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome is returning to racing on Wednesday despite being under investigation by cycling’s world governing body for failing a doping test.

Froome is participating in the five-day Ruta del Sol in southern Spain, an event he won in 2015.

“I know I have done nothing wrong, that’s my starting point,” Froome said. “There is a process in place for me to be up to demonstrate that, and that’s obviously what I intend to do.”

Froome has been ordered to explain to the International Cycling Union why a urine sample he provided at the Spanish Vuelta in September showed a concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol at twice the permitted level.

He said he has received a lot of support from other riders so far, and that he is trying to solve the issue as fast as possible.

“I do believe that when all the facts are out there I think people will see it from my point of view,” Froome said.

If found guilty of doping, the British rider could lose his Vuelta title and be suspended for a long period.