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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.

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.