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Bennett wins 7th stage as Yates maintains Giro d’Italia lead

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PRAIA A MARE, Italy – Sam Bennett timed his sprint to perfection to win the seventh stage of the Giro d’Italia, while British rider Simon Yates remained in the overall lead as the race went over to the Italian mainland on Friday.

Bennett was the last to launch his sprint but the Irish rider managed to edge out Elia Viviani – who won two of the opening three stages – and claim his first win in a Grand Tour.

Niccolo Bonifazio was third in the bunch sprint at the end of the flat 159-kilometer (99-mile) route along the Calabrian coast from Pizzo to Praia a Mare.

“I’m really happy with that,” said Bennett, who finished third in each of Viviani’s wins. “I tried so hard the other days to get the win but never seemed to get the timing right.

“It was very hard to get Viviani’s wheel, everyone wanted that wheel, and we had to fight for it. At one point I thought we’d left it too late but the timing was right and I could use my power to get an advantage.”

There was an early break of three cyclists and the peloton allowed Davide Ballerini, Markel Irizar and Maxim Belkov an advantage of more than four minutes before it began to reel them in.

They were caught with 14 kilometers remaining as the peloton powered to the sprint finish and victory for Bennett and his Bora-Hansgrohe team.

The general classification was unchanged and Yates, who won the young rider classification at last year’s Tour de France, retained his 16-second advantage over defending champion Tom Dumoulin.

Yates’ Mitchelton-Scott teammate, Esteban Chaves, remained third overall, 26 seconds behind.

Four-time Tour de France winner Froome was in eighth place, 1 minute, 10 seconds behind.

“It was a good first day in the maglia rosa, relaxed at the start,” Yates said. “For us as a team it was perfect. A bit stressful at the final as always but OK.

“Tomorrow, if I have the legs, I might try something. I still need to get some time on Tom Dumoulin and some other guys who are better time trialists than me.”

Saturday’s eighth stage sees the second mountain finish at the end of a 209-kilometer (130-mile) route from Praia a Mare to Montevergine.

The Giro ends in Rome on May 27.

Eli Viviania wins first stage of Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Italy’s Elia Viviani slipped through a tiny gap near the finish line to win the first stage of the Tour Down Under on Tuesday as riders faced the dual challenge of extreme heat and strong winds.

Viviani was tucked back in the peloton, behind triple world champion Peter Sagan, as riders raced towards the finish of the 129-kilometer stage at Port Adelaide.

First Danny van Poppel of the Netherlands, then Germany’s Maximilian Richard Walscheid hit the front in the straight sprint to the finish and Walscheid looked to have made the winning burst.

But Viviani, who fell during the 50-kilometer tour prelude on Sunday, showed fearlessness as he threaded his way along the crowd barriers to dash past Walsheid for the stage victory.

Riders had to contend with temperatures in the high 30s Celsius (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) as they raced through the Adelaide Hills, then contended with heat and crosswinds on the long ride along a broad and exposed motorway to the finish.

Organizers had intended to finish with a 3.4-km circuit but, after concerns about the heat, winds and possible traffic problems, they opted instead for a straight run into the finish.

“Today the plan was to wait a little bit and put me in the best position,” Viviani said. “Also the lead out guys had to bring some wind in the face from five kilometers to one kilometer out. Sometimes the danger is you don’t have the space to go through, but I found a little space on the left on the barriers.”

Viviani claimed the win for his Deceuninck-Quick Step team ahead of Walscheid while Italy’s Jakub Mareczko was third. Sagan finished in eighth place with the same time as the winner.

Ex-British cycling doc faces hearing over testosterone order

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LONDON — The former doctor of Team Sky and British Cycling will face a medical hearing on allegations he covered up an order of testosterone which was intended to help an athlete.

Richard Freeman’s actions have been at the center of a British parliamentary investigation into doping in sport and he is now accused by the General Medical Council of getting Testogel “to administer to an athlete to improve their athletic performance.”

Details published by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ahead of an upcoming hearing say Freeman is accused of making “untrue statements, in that he denied making the order and advised that it had been made in error” in 2011. Freeman is said to have asked a company to provide confirmation that the Testogel order was sent in error and returned “knowing that this had not taken place.”

The tribunal will examine allegations Freeman misled the U.K. Anti-Doping Agency in a 2017 interview by insisting the Testogel had not been ordered for an athlete at the Manchester velodrome where both Team Sky and British Cycling were based at the time in 2011.

The tribunal is listed as being sometime between Feb. 6 to March 5.