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Yates maintains Giro lead, Dennis wins 16th stage time trial

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ROVERETO, Italy – Simon Yates is still in control of the Giro d’Italia after the British rider limited his losses to closest rival Tom Dumoulin in the individual time trial on Tuesday.

Dumoulin was more than two minutes behind Yates heading into the 16th stage and, as a time trial specialist, it was seen as his best chance of taking the pink jersey from the Mitchelton-Scott cyclist.

However, Yates still leads Dumoulin by 56 seconds heading into the final five stages.

“I’m really happy,” Yates said shortly after crossing the line. “I really gave everything there. I was dying in the final 10 kilometers. I thought I would lose a lot more. I’m really happy. I’m really surprised I’ve kept the jersey, I’ll be honest.”

Domenico Pozzovivo remained third but slipped 3:11 behind Yates.

Rohan Dennis of Australia won the 34-kilometer (21-mile) time trial from Trento to Rovereto, beating Tony Martin by 14 seconds. Dumoulin was third, 22 seconds behind the BMC Racing Team cyclist.

“I had a good TT but Rohan Dennis and Tony Martin were better,” said Dumoulin, who rides for Team Sunweb. “I wasn’t strong enough. Yates also had a very good day so all in all it’s disappointing for us but it is what it is. I gave everything today … I’m keeping my head up and we’ll fight until Rome.”

Dennis had lost the opening time trial in Israel by two seconds to Dumoulin.

“It’s pretty good to beat time-trialists like Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin,” Dennis said. “I came to the Giro to win a stage. I was hoping for Jerusalem to be that one. This stage was a big target for me as well. To win here and jump back in the top 10 is a big day for me.”

Chris Froome finished fifth, 35 seconds behind Dennis, to move into fourth overall. The four-time Tour de France champion is 3:50 behind Yates but only 39 seconds behind Pozzovivo and a spot on the podium.

Froome arrived at the Giro bidding to become the third person to win three Grand Tours in a row but he crashed in training before the opening time trial, lost time in a split on stage four and injured himself again in a second crash four days later.

“I gave everything on the road today,” Froome said in Italian. “I’m happy because I think I jumped a few places in the standings. For the (general classification), it will be difficult. I’m far from Yates and he’s been very, very strong until now. I feel better every day. My legs are better especially after yesterday’s rest day. It’s not over yet. I’ll give everything and we’ll see whether I’ll finish third or fifth or wherever.”

The 17th stage on Wednesday is a hilly 155-kilometer ride from Riva del Garda to Iseo, through the wine region of Franciacorta, before three grueling days in the Alps.

Yates’ three stage wins have come on uphill finishes after thrilling attacks.

“There are still some difficult stages to come, I’ll look to defend now, unfortunately for the fans,” said Yates. “I hope I don’t have some bad days, something disastrous happens or anything and I hope to wear it into Rome.”

The Giro ends in Rome on Sunday.

Ban for 2011 Vuelta winner Cobo could give title to Froome

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AIGLE, Switzerland — Juan Jose Cobo has been banned from cycling for three years after being found guilty of doping in 2011, the year he won the Spanish Vuelta.

Cobo’s ban puts 2011 Vuelta runner-up Chris Froome in line for a seventh Grand Tour title.

The International Cycling Union says Cobo has been found “guilty of an anti-doping rule violation.” The UCI says the case was “based on abnormalities from 2009 and 2011 detected in his biological passport.”

The now-retired 38-year-old Spanish rider won the three-week Vuelta for his first Grand Tour title in September 2011, finishing 13 seconds ahead of Froome. Bradley Wiggins was third.

The UCI says Cobo has a one-month deadline to file an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Carapaz on verge of Giro victory; Bilbao wins Stage 20

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CROCE D’AUNE-MONTE AVENA, Italy (AP) Ecuadorian cyclist Richard Carapaz took a huge step towards winning the Giro d’Italia as he preserved his overall lead at the end of the penultimate stage, which was won by Pello Bilbao of Spain on Saturday.

Carapaz, who rides for Movistar, remained 1 minute, 54 seconds ahead of Vincenzo Nibali ahead of the final time trial in Verona on Sunday.

“We’ve tried to win the stage with Mikel Landa as well as myself to retain the Maglia Rosa but we’ve missed out by very little,” Carapaz said. “However, we’re happy with how it went. I believe 1:54 over Nibali is enough although anything can happen in a final time trial.”

Landa leapfrogged Primoz Roglic into third, 2:53 behind Carapaz, after finishing second in a sprint with Bilbao after 194 kilometers (121 miles) from Feltre to Croce d’Aune-Monte Avena, which had five long, categorized climbs in the Dolomites.

It was Bilbao’s second Grand Tour victory after the Astana rider triumphed on Stage 7.

“I knew that Carapaz would try to give the win to Mikel Landa so I followed the best wheel,” Bilbao said. “My first win was special. This second win is even better because it’s a big mountain stage. When the GC riders caught us I thought it would be hard but they were tired, too.”

Giulio Ciccone was third, two seconds behind the front two.

Miguel Angel Lopez had hopes of competing for a stage win but he was tripped by a fan, who was running alongside encouraging him but collided with another spectator and fell onto the cyclist. As Lopez got back up, he slapped the fan. Lopez was still visibly furious when he crossed the line 18th, 1:49 off the pace.

“I’m sorry for what happened, I was full of pure adrenaline. But there needs to be more respect for the cyclists,” Lopez said.

Another incident with a fan also cost Roglic. The Slovenian was pushed by a spectator and didn’t attempt to push him away and so was penalized 10 seconds by the race jury. Roglic, who finished 50 seconds behind Carapaz, now trails by 3:16 overall. However, he is a time trial specialist and will hope to at least finish the three-week race on the podium.

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