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Chris Froome happy as Tour de France heads for the mountains

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ANNECY, France – Chris Froome believes the mountains will reveal the true Tour de France contenders as he looks forward to the first of three grueling stages in the Alps.

“I’m feeling good and optimistic about the upcoming stages,” the four-time champion said on Monday, the Tour’s first rest day.

Froome, who is eighth overall after nine stages, is 1 minute, 42 seconds behind yellow-jersey holder Greg Van Avermaet before the first Alpine stage on Tuesday.

Van Avermaet is not expected to be a threat in the mountains, and Froome suggested the Belgian “will find it difficult to hang on tomorrow. It’s a proper climbers stage.”

After an opening week of relatively flat routes, the first significant ascents begin with four categorized climbs as well as the punishing Montee du plateau des Gileres, which features a six-kilometer climb at an incline of 11.2 percent.

“It’s a tough stage. It will definitely start shaping the GC,” Froome said of the general classification.

Sky teammate Geraint Thomas is second overall, 0:43 behind Van Avermaet, meaning the team has two viable options to claim the yellow jersey over the second week of the three-week Tour.

“It’s great for us to have those options to play when it comes down to it, especially looking at some of our rivals who have got two or three options in their team,” Froome said.

“The team around us is such a capable group of guys, and we’re really going to be coming into our element now in the mountains.”

Member of U.S. cycling team found after going missing in Spain

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MADRID — American cycling team Trek-Segafredo says one of its members has been taken to a hospital after going missing for several hours in northeastern Spain.

The team says director Steven De Jongh was “conscious” after being found by authorities on Monday. It did not immediately give any other details.

De Jongh’s wife called for help on Twitter, saying her husband went missing after going on a morning ride near the city of Girona. She later said a helicopter found him, breathing, and with a pulse.

The team says police were involved in the search.

Thibaut Pinot wins Tour of Lombardy

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COMO, Italy — French rider Thibaut Pinot won the Tour of Lombardy on Saturday for the first single-day classic victory of his career.

Pinot, who rides for the Groupama-FDJ team, left behind challenger Vincenzo Nibali with a solo attack 14 kilometers from the finish of the hilly 241-kilometer (150-mile) route from Bergamo to Como.

Nibali, a two-time winner of the Lombardy race, finished second, 32 seconds behind. Dylan Teuns of Belgium crossed third, 43 seconds back.

The victory caps a strong week for Pinot, who also won the Milano-Torino race on Wednesday.

“Among the monuments (single-day classics), Il Lombardia is the nicest in my mind,” Pinot said. “I’ve always wanted to win it. I’m in the form of my life but to win ahead of Nibali is something very special.”

Pinot also won two stages in the Spanish Vuelta last month and the five-day Tour of the Alps in April.