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Greg Van Avermaet wins E3 Harelbeke after three-man sprint

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HARELBEKE, Belgium — Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet came out on top of a three-man sprint to win the E3 Harelbeke as Belgian riders secured a 1-2-3 finish in the one-day cobbled race on Friday.

Van Avermaet edged former world champion Philippe Gilbert. Oliver Naesen completed the podium.

Tom Boonen broke up the peloton when he attacked on the Taaienberg hill. A small group followed, and the Belgian trio pulled away on the steep cobbled slopes of the Oude Kwaremont, and stayed ahead all the way to the finish.

The Belgians sized each other carefully in the final kilometer. Naesen ignited the sprint 250 meters from the line. He made his move too soon, and Van Avermaet caught him with ease, then resisted Gilbert’s response to claim his first win in the E3.

It was Van Avermaet’s second important win this season following his success in the Het Nieuwsblad in February.

Gilbert, who was runner-up to Yves Lampaert in the Dwars doo Vlaanderen race midweek, looked strong in the finale but maybe chose too big a gear, failing to catch his rival.

“It gives me a lot of confidence for Flanders,” Van Avermaet said, referring to the Tour of Flanders, the region’s big race on April 2.

The race was marred by crashes, and Tony Gallopin of France was forced to withdraw with a suspected left wrist injury. His Lotto Soudal team said he would be taken to hospital for a medical checkup. World champion Peter Sagan was also caught up in a crash 42 kilometers from the finish but appeared uninjured.

Cataldo wins Giro Stage 15 as Roglic crashes on borrowed bike

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COMO, Italy (AP) Astana rider Dario Cataldo has won the 15th stage of the Giro d’Italia on a nightmare day for race favorite Primoz Roglic.

The Italian finished the 232-kilometer (144-mile) route from Ivrea to Como in 5 hours, 48 minutes, 15 seconds on Sunday. Mattia Cattaneo was second with the same time, and Simon Yates was 11 seconds behind in third.

Movistar rider Richard Carapaz of Ecuador increased his overall lead from seven to 47 seconds over Roglic, who had to borrow a teammate’s bike during the race. The Slovenian then crashed near the end, hitting a barrier on a turn during the descent of the Civiglio, and crossed the line with cuts on his face around 50 seconds behind Cataldo.

Another race favorite, Vincenzo Nibali, is third overall, 1:47 behind, after finishing sixth.

Sunday’s stage was mainly flat for the first 160 kilometers but had three categorized climbs in the final part of the stage.

Cataldo and Cattaneo had a two-man breakaway.

“I just followed Cattaneo’s attack,” Cataldo said. “Then I was confident in myself. To win a stage at the Giro d’Italia is amazing. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of all my life.”

The end of the stage followed many of the same roads used in the Giro di Lombardia single-day classic

The three-week race ends in Verona on June 2. Monday is a rest day.

Carapaz wins Stage 14 to take overall lead of Giro d’Italia

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COURMAYEUR, Italy (AP) Richard Carapaz of Ecuador won the grueling 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday to move into the overall lead.

Carapaz, who rides for Movistar, attacked with just over 25 kilometers remaining of the 131-kilometer (81-mile) route from Saint-Vincent to Courmayeur in the Valle d’Aosta region near the French border.

The 25-year-old Carapaz made his move with 3 kilometers to go on the penultimate climb of the Colle San Carlo and held off other overall contenders to claim his second win of this year’s race and his third overall.

“The truth is that we used a strategy that was well planned by the team,” Carapaz said. “We knew that I and Mikel Landa were in good form so we had to catch the right moment to attack. I did everything as planned.

“It’s hard to believe that I’m in the Maglia Rosa. It was a dream and I’ve worked hard for this.”

Simon Yates recovered after being dropped on that climb to finish second, 1 minute, 32 seconds behind Carapaz at the end of the stage which featured five climbs and a second successive uphill finish, to the foot of the Monte Bianco Skyway.

Vincenzo Nibali crossed the line in third place, 1:54 behind, with the same time as a number of other overall favorites, including Primoz Roglic.

Carapaz now leads Roglic by seven seconds with Nibali third, 1:47 behind.

Sunday’s 15th stage is mainly flat for the first 160 kilometers but has three categorized climbs in the final part of the 232-kilometer route from Ivrea to Como.

The three-week race ends in Verona on June 2.