Cyclist Yates can keep racing despite positive doping test

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AIGLE, Switzerland — British cyclist Simon Yates can continue to race despite a positive doping test during the Paris-Nice race, the International Cycling Union said Friday.

An administrative error has been blamed by the Orica GreenEdge team for the positive test on March 12 for Terbutaline, in the form of an asthma inhaler that former track world champion Yates used as part of documented ongoing treatment.

“As per the UCI’s anti-doping rules, such substance does not entail the imposition of a provisional suspension,” the governing body said in a statement.

Orica GreenEdge released a statement on Friday saying it was notified last week about the 23-year-old Yates’ case, and that the inhaler was noted by a team doctor on doping control forms.

But the team said the doctor erred by not formally applying for a therapeutic use exemption for the substance, and so the positive result was flagged by anti-doping authorities.

“This is solely based on a human error that the doctor in question has taken full responsibility for,” Orica GreenEdge said in the statement. “There has been no wrong-doing on Simon Yates’ part.

“The team takes full responsibility for this mistake, and wishes to underline their support for Simon during this process.”

The Orica GreenEdge statement was released in the wake of a brief British Cycling confirmation that a rider tested positive during a race. British Cycling did not identify the rider, or the race, and said the UCI was handling the case.

Orica GreenEdge said it was concerned by the leak of information, and would make no further comment until a full evaluation of the case, “and evidence that the team and Simon Yates are now submitting to the UCI in order to clarify everything.”

Yates can “request and attend the analysis of the B sample,” the UCI said, adding it would not comment further “at this stage.”

In 2013, Yates won gold in the points race at the track world championships in Minsk, Belarus. He finished seventh in the weeklong Paris-Nice race.

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

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ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”