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Viviani wins 17th stage for 4th win, Yates keeps Giro lead

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ISEO, Italy (AP) Elia Viviani sprinted to his fourth victory of this year’s Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, and Simon Yates maintained his hold on the leader’s pink jersey after the 17th stage.

The Italian won a bunch sprint through rain at the end of the hilly, 155-kilometer ride from Riva del Garda to Iseo, holding up four fingers as he crossed the line.

Sam Bennett, who was looking for his third victory, was second and Niccolo Bonifazio was third.

“Bennett could have moved level today. It was a stage that was more suited to him. He tried to put us in difficulty,” said Viviani. “It was a hard stage because no one wanted to let the breakaway go. The team did a super job. I think they were perfect.”

Danny van Poppel was the first to launch his sprint on the rain-soaked approach to the finish, but Zdenek Stybar and Fabio Sabatini gave a great leadout for Viviani, their Quick-Step Floors teammate.

“I had a few slips, and I just lost the nerve,” said a teary Bennett, his voice cracking with emotion. “I just couldn’t get out. I had the legs again and I just couldn’t get out.”

There was no change in the general classification with Yates leading defending champion Tom Dumoulin by 56 seconds.

“There’s no easy day at the Giro,” Yates said. “This was another hard one and it could have some impact on the coming mountain stages. I heard about splits in the bunch but I never knew who was caught behind.

“I hope everyone is tired because I’m tired.”

Domenico Pozzovivo remained 3:11 behind Yates and 39 seconds ahead of four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome as the races prepares to head into the Alps.

Thursday’s 18th stage is a mainly flat 196-kilometer route from Abbiategrasso to Prato Nevoso, but ends with a steep Category 1 climb – the first of three summit finishes.

There are four mountain passes on the route up to Bardonecchia Friday, before Saturday’s “queen stage” up to Cervinia.

The Giro finishes in Rome on Sunday.

Andre Cardoso banned four years for doping

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AIGLE, Switzerland — The International Cycling Union says it imposed a four-year ban on Portuguese rider Andre Cardoso for doping with EPO ahead of the 2017 Tour de France.

The UCI says its anti-doping tribunal gave its verdict, in a case opened almost 17 months ago.

Cardoso tested positive for the endurance boosting hormone two weeks before the Tour.

He was suspended by Trek-Segafredo, which selected Cardoso as a specialist climber to support team leader Alberto Contador.

The 34-year-old Cardoso had career top-20 finishes in the Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta, and competed in the road races at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Pro riders union upset by doping control during cycling gala

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PARIS — The professional cyclists’ union is urging anti-doping authorities to treat athletes in a more respectful manner after a Belgian rider was forced to leave a cycling gala to follow anti-doping inspectors for an out-of-competition test.

Pieter Serry, who rides for the Quick Step team, missed the Gala of the Flandrien on Tuesday after doping inspectors came to the ceremony to take samples.

In a statement published Wednesday, the riders’ association (CPA) complained about “another case of non-respect for the privacy of the riders” and criticized the odd timing of some doping controls.

“There have been cases reported where the riders were checked on their wedding day, during a funeral or on their child’s first day of school,” said Gianni Bugno, the president of the CPA. “Now we read about the case of Pieter Serry, controlled in the offseason, out of the hour scheduled, while at the Flemish cycling festival. … The riders pay 2 percent of their prizes to make these controls possible, they are the only athletes in the world who pay the anti-doping from their own pockets,” Bugno said. “The riders respect the measures required for the fight against doping, but at least they ask for the respect of their private life in return.”

Belgian media quoted Serry as saying he had already been tested two weeks ago and told antidoping authorities he was available from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. at his home.

“I understand that there must be checks and that people have to do their work, but two checks immediately after each other, out of season, is simply a waste of money. I feel like a prisoner with an ankle monitor,” Serry was quoted as saying.

The CPA added it will try to find out whether it was the Belgian anti-doping agency, the national cycling federation or Cycling’s anti-doping foundation (CADF) which ordered Serry’s test.

“In addition, the CPA will present an official request to all the bodies involved in the fight against doping and the UCI to establish a code of conduct for the controllers, to ensure the respect for the private life of the athletes, at least in certain circumstances,” the CPA said.