Cyclist Armitstead wins appeal against doping violations

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LONDON — British cyclist Lizzie Armitstead won an appeal against an anti-doping violation, clearing the world road race champion to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Armitstead missed three doping tests in a 12-month period, triggering a charge by U.K. Anti-Doping, a provisional suspension and the possibility of a two-year ban.

She appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and a statement released on Armitstead’s behalf on Monday said the first missed test — from August 2015 — was declared void by CAS because UKAD’s doping control officer had failed to follow procedure.

On Tuesday, UKAD confirmed the ruling by CAS.

“We respect the outcome of the CAS hearing,” said UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead, who added that the body was awaiting the written decision on why the violation was not upheld.

Armitstead said she has “always been and will always be a clean athlete and have been vocal in my anti-doping stance throughout my career.”

“I am pleased that CAS has accepted my position, having provided detailed information demonstrating the situation around my strikes,” she said in her statement.

The 27-year-old Armitstead won a silver medal in the road race at the London Games in 2012 and is one of the favorites in Rio. She won gold at the road world championships in the United States in September.

Armitstead’s first missed test came at a World Cup event in Sweden. The second was an administrative failure on Oct. 5 and the third was a missed test on June 9 following “an emergency change of plans due to a serious illness within her family.”

She was charged by UKAD with three whereabouts failures on July 11.

Sapstead said Armitstead “chose not to challenge the first and second Whereabouts Failures at the time they were asserted against her.”

“At the CAS hearing, Ms. Armitstead raised a defense in relation to the first Whereabouts Failure, which was accepted by the Panel,” Sapstead said.

Armitstead did not dispute the last two faults at CAS.

UKAD has a policy of not publicly disclosing provisional suspensions, or details of cases, until an anti-doping rule violation has deemed to have been committed.

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.”