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Magner, Ganzar win USA Cycling criterium championships

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Ty Magner didn’t need to go very far to get some wisdom and encouragement before starting the men’s criterium race as USA Cycling’s national championships.

One teammate, Brad Huff, won two years ago. Another, Eric Young, is a former two-time champ.

So when the pace picked up in the final laps of the 1.1-mile circuit in downtown Knoxville on Friday night, it made sense that Magner looked to his teammates to keep him out of trouble. And after navigating a sketchy final five laps, the Rally Cycling rider had enough to win the event for himself.

Magner held off Young in a sprint to the finish to make it a 1-2 finish for their team, while Samuel Bassetti of Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling finished fast to take third.

“It was just swarming all day. You could come from the back of the field to the front of the field with super wide streets,” said Magner, who finished second to Eric Marcotte in 2015. “You have to plan to win the race, but if you mess up or have a bad day, the guys will have your back.”

In the women’s race, former collegiate runner Leigh Ann Ganzar pulled off a massive upset when she joined Kelly Catlin and Jennifer Luebke in a breakaway on the penultimate lap. Ganzar then held off Catlin in a side-by-side sprint to win the biggest race of her young career.

“It’s really unbelievable,” said Ganzar, who rides for a grassroots team called Wolfpack presented by Hyperthreads. “We all started together as Category 4s and have worked our way up together. To be able to race at this level would not be possible without them, without our sponsors.”

USA Cycling decided to move the criterium championships to the same venue and time as time trial and road race nationals this year, creating a packed weekend of racing. The time trial on Thursday got things going, and the road race beginning and ending in downtown Knoxville concludes the weekend Sunday.

The criteriums under the Friday night lights lived up to their unpredictable billing.

Travis McCabe of the UnitedHealthcare team was back to defend his title in the men’s race, but there were few major moves until late in the race. Rally Cycling with its triumvirate of Magner, Young and Huff were tasked with setting the pace, and they kept the tempo hot most of the night.

At one point, Magner latched onto the back of his former teammates from Holowesko-Citadel, before he ultimately found his way to the front of the pack heading into the final lap.

“Those last five laps were pretty hairy,” he said. “That was probably one of the sketchiest group sprints I’ve done in a long time. The roads are super wide and it was super-fast all the way into that last lap. We had to burn a few matches to stay out of trouble, but I ended up being on the Holowesko train and it was the perfect spot to be.”

Magner has been close to the podium before, though. Ganzar came out of nowhere to claim her win.

With reigning champion Erica Allar sidelined by injuries, the big favorites were Coryn Rivera, Skylar Schneider and Emma White. But all three missed the decisive move on the penultimate lap, forcing them into a sprint for fourth place with White earning that spot.

Up ahead, the 29-year-old Ganzar was celebrating a victory over Catlin by less than a wheel length.

“All the other women here are just so strong, and great racers,” she said. “We decided we would put it all on the line. There was no pressure on us. And so, when the time struck, I made a move and it was kind of a shock we held on. I couldn’t believe when we turned that last corner there was no one between us and the line. So it was just, put your head down and try to hold on.”

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.