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Pierre Rolland wins Stage 17, Dumoulin keeps Giro lead

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CANAZEI, Italy — Pierre Rolland launched a late solo attack to win the 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, and Tom Dumoulin’s overall lead remained unchanged.

Rolland, a Frenchman who rides for the Cannondale-Drapac team, accelerated from a large group of breakaway riders with about five kilometers (three miles) to go in the 219-kilometer (136-mile) leg from Tirano to Canazei, which featured three categorized climbs.

Rolland had been part of the breakaway from the start of the stage, which included climbs over the Aprica and Tonale passes. His decisive breakaway came in the Val di Fassa.

“At the end it was a question of courage,” Rolland said. “I caught the right moment. It’s a huge relief.”

It was Rolland’s first career win in the Giro, having won two stages in the Tour de France in 2011 and 2012. He hadn’t posted a win since taking overall victory in the Castilla and Leon tour at the start of 2015.

“I’ve waited for this moment for such a long time,” Rolland said. “In 2015 I finished second in a Tour de France stage, and last year was just a year to forget for me. I crashed twice in the Tour. It’s been a long wait.”

Rolland credited his form to his work over the winter with Cannondale general manager Jonathan Vaughters, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong.

“My winter was so so hard, and now I’ve won because of my work,” he said.

Rui Costa, the 2013 world champion, won a sprint for second, crossing 24 seconds behind Rolland.

Basque rider Gorka Izaguirre crossed third.

The main pack including Dumoulin and all of the other contenders finished nearly eight minutes behind.

Dumoulin remained 31 seconds ahead of 2014 champion Nairo Quintana, with two-time champion Vincenzo Nibali third, 1:12 behind.

Dumoulin struggled with stomach problems a day earlier during the race’s toughest stage, losing most of his lead due to a nature break. He was untroubled Wednesday, which was welcome ahead of another grueling leg Thursday across the Dolomites Range.

However, Dumoulin’s Team Sunweb had to pull at the front to make sure nobody in the breakaway gained too much time on him.

“We were never worried,” Dumoulin said. “We just had to chase harder than we expected. I knew other teams would stress for their jerseys, and come to help. But they waited very long to pull. It was their decision… My boys did an amazing job and my jersey is safe.”

Stage 18 is a 137-kilometer (85-mile) leg from Moeana to Ortisei in the Val Gardena that features four categorized climbs, including an uphill finish.

“I expect Vincenzo and Nairo to make it very hard for me tomorrow,” Dumoulin said.

The 100th Giro ends in Milan on Sunday with an individual time trial.

Andy Rihs, Swiss owner of cycling, soccer teams, dies at 75

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) Andy Rihs, a Swiss businessman who owned the BMC Racing cycling team and Young Boys soccer club, has died. He was 75.

Rihs died Wednesday in Zurich after “a patient and valiantly endured illness,” the BMC team said Thursday in a statement.

“Our grief is indescribable, but we will carry on his values,” the team said, praising Rihs for his “generosity, his sense of humor, and his infectious laugh.”

Rihs’s death comes with Young Boys close to winning its first Swiss league title in 32 years. Young Boys leads by 11 points with six matches left.

“Andy, thank you for everything. We will miss you,” Young Boys said in a statement.

Rihs’s brother, Hans-Ueli, is also an owner of the club and Stade de Suisse in Bern, known locally as Wankdorf. The stadium staged the 1954 World Cup final.

As BMC owner, Rihs secured a Tour de France title five years after his previous team was involved in a doping scandal. Cadel Evans of Australia wore BMC’s black and red colors to victory in the 2011 Tour.

In 2006, the Rihs-backed Phonak team disbanded after American rider Floyd Landis was stripped of the Tour title.

Cycling’s top riders set for Tour of California next month

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LOS ANGELES (AP) The top men’s and women’s teams will compete next month in the Amgen Tour of California, the premier U.S. cycling race.

The men will cover 645 miles over seven stages from Long Beach to Sacramento from May 13 to May 19. The women will have three of the top five teams for their three-day, 187-mile race that starts May 17 in Elk Grove.

Race owner AEG announced Thursday that Pete Sagan will ride for the BORA-hansgrohe team while Mark Cavendish will go for Team Dimension Data and be joined by Rafal Majka.

Tony Gallopin of AG2R La Mondiale is in the men’s field. So is LottoNL-Jumbo’s Nielson Powless, the race’s best young rider in 2016.

The women feature 2016 champion Megan Guarnier of USA Cycling National Team, Katie Hall of UnitedHealthcare and Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon/SCRAM.