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

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MONTEVERGINE, Italy (AP) Richard Carapaz pulled off a superb final attack to win the eighth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday, and British rider Simon Yates remained in the overall lead after the second mountain finish.

Carapaz stormed the end of the final climb to pass Koen Bouwman, who led for most of the day. The Movistar cyclist claimed his first win in a Grand Tour, and the first for Ecuador.

Davide Formolo led the peloton over the line to finish second, seven seconds behind. Thibaut Pinot was third.

“I worked a lot before the Giro,” Carapaz said. “Having the first Grand Tour win, it’s emotional.

“I had good legs, so I decided to attack from far out, two kilometers to go. I decided it was the right time to go alone, because I knew I couldn’t win in a sprint.”

There was an early break of eight cyclists, and Mads Pedersen was dropped before the halfway stage.

The gap to the remaining seven hovered around the five-minute mark before the peloton began to reel them in.

Their advantage stood at just over two minutes as they started up the 15-kilometer climb to the finish, with the rain lashing down, and they were eventually caught.

Bouwman, who attacked from the breakaway early in the climb, was the last to be swept up as Carapaz passed him in the final kilometer.

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.

“We wanted to be in front for the climb,” Yates said. “We knew because of the rain in the final, the hairpins would be very slippery. We wanted to take them in the front. We rode an even tempo. It was a very hard start, so maybe the breakaway didn’t have good enough legs to stay away.

“Maybe I would have liked to take some bonus seconds in the final, but I got a little boxed in and I couldn’t get out to sprint. It’s one of those things.”

Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome also finished in the main group despite being involved in another crash which left him with a bloody elbow. He remained 1 minute, 10 seconds behind, but slipped to ninth place.

Sunday’s ninth stage has another mountain finish, at the end of a 225-kilometer (140-mile) route from Pesco Sannita up to Gran Sasso d’Italia.

The Giro ends in Rome on May 27.

Massachusetts man wins Mount Washington bike race

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PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. — A 30-year-old Massachusetts man won Saturday’s bicycle race up Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern United States.

Barry Miller, of Beverly, Massachusetts, was the top finisher in the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb up the 7.6-mile ascent to the summit of the 6,288-foot peak in 53 minutes and 34 seconds.

Miller was followed by Drake Deuel, 20, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Erik Levinsohn, 28 of New Haven, Connecticut.

In the women’s race, 40-year-old Aimee Vassee, of Longmont, Colorado, finished the course in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 5 seconds. She was followed Stefanie Sydlik, of Pittsburg, and Kristen Roberts of Reading Massachusetts.

The start of Saturday’s race was delayed two hours due to rain, fog and heavy clouds.

Last year’s top male finisher wasn’t in the race this year, nor were any of last year’s other top seven finishers.

Vasse defended her title as reigning champion in the climb. She won the race from 2004 to 2006. After a long absence, she returned last year and won in her fastest time yet.

Riders deal with a steep grade averaging 12 percent and rising to 22 percent at the finish, as well as Mount Washington’s unpredictable weather.

The race raises money for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, New Hampshire, which provides environmental and recreational education for children, schools, and families.

Australian cycling star Simon Gerrans to retire

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SYDNEY — Simon Gerrans, who won two stages of the Tour de France and is the only Australian to have won two of cycling’s one-day classics, has announced he will retire at the end of the 2018 season.

Gerrans is one of only seven Australians to have worn the leader’s yellow jersey in the Tour de France. He also won stages of the Giro d’Italia and the Spanish Vuelta and won the Milan-San Remo and Liege-Bastogne-Liege races which are among cycling’s five one-day classics, which are collectively known as the Monuments.

In an open letter published Tuesday on the website of his BMW Racing Team, Gerrans said he was ready to change careers.

“Although I feel that I am still performing at a good level physically, my passion for the sport is not what it used to be,” he said. “Professional cycling is too hard unless you are able to commit wholeheartedly.”

Gerrans, who turned professional in 2005, rode the Tour de France for the BMC team this year. He finishes with 33 career victories, winning his home tour – the Tour Down Under – four times.

“When I look back over my racing career my fondest memories don’t come from winning Classics or Grand Tour stages but the happiness and joy my victories created for the team and people close to me,” Gerrans said.