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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.

2021 Tour de France race to start in Denmark

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) The Tour de France will start in Denmark in 2021, beginning with a ride in Copenhagen followed by two more stages around the country.

The opening stage on July 2 will be a 13-kilometer flat run around the capital.

“It is an honor to have the grand depart in Copenhagen,” race director Christian Prudhomme said Thursday.

A 190-kilometer stage between Roskilde and Nyborg, a town on the island of Funen, will follow. That stage will include pedaling on the windy bridges that make up the Storebaelt rail-and-road link.

“The wind is very, very important for the race. It was important to have the finishing line close to the bridge,” Prudhomme said. “Stage 2 is for sports enthusiasts.”

The last stage before heading back to France will be in the hilly Jutland peninsula between the towns of Vejle and Soenderborg.

The contract for the 90 million kroner ($13.7 million) Danish start was signed Thursday by Prudhomme and Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, himself an avid cycling fan, called the Tour de France “the most iconic cycling race of all time.”

Both Prudhomme and Loekke Rasmussen noted Denmark had been picked because of the country’s interest in the race but also because many Danes bicycle to work and school every day. The Danish prime minister said ordinary people in Copenhagen bike “330 Tour de France races every day.”

In 2011, the International Cycling Union held its Road World Championships in Copenhagen.

Other details of the 2021 Tour de France route were not disclosed.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

2020 Vuelta to start with three stages in Netherlands

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MADRID — The 2020 Spanish Vuelta will start with three stages in the Netherlands.

Organizers say the race’s 75th edition will begin with stages in the provinces of Utrecht and North Brabant, with riders going through 34 Dutch municipalities in three days.

More than 400 kilometers (248 miles) of the Grand Tour event will be in Dutch territory before the riders return to Spain.

The 2009 edition of the Vuelta also started in the Netherlands.

The announcement was made Wednesday in the Dutch town of Breda.

This year’s race will have stages going through France and Andorra.

British rider Simon Yates is the defending Spanish Vuelta champion.