Dibben wins stage, Bennett into Tour of California lead

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BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. (AP) English cyclist Jon Dibben won the sixth stage of the Tour of California on Friday, and New Zealand’s George Bennett roared past Rafal Majka to take the overall lead with one stage to go.

Dibben covered the 15-mile time trial course around Big Bear Lake in 28 minutes, 27 seconds, then sat back while the overall contenders took their shot at the race lead.

Stage 5 winner Andrew Talansky need to pull back 44 seconds on Majka, and he stopped the clock 16 seconds back of Dibben in third place. Bennett started four minutes later and roared over the course in a time of 28:45, sending him into the lead with Majka the only rider left on the course.

His disappointing time of 29:26 dropped him 35 seconds behind Bennett into second overall.

The final stage Saturday takes riders 77 miles through the San Gabriel Mountains into Pasadena.

World champ Peter Sagan to race in Tour Down Under

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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.”

Former Olympic cycling champ fired after positive drug test

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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.