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Eli Viviania wins first stage of Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Italy’s Elia Viviani slipped through a tiny gap near the finish line to win the first stage of the Tour Down Under on Tuesday as riders faced the dual challenge of extreme heat and strong winds.

Viviani was tucked back in the peloton, behind triple world champion Peter Sagan, as riders raced towards the finish of the 129-kilometer stage at Port Adelaide.

First Danny van Poppel of the Netherlands, then Germany’s Maximilian Richard Walscheid hit the front in the straight sprint to the finish and Walscheid looked to have made the winning burst.

But Viviani, who fell during the 50-kilometer tour prelude on Sunday, showed fearlessness as he threaded his way along the crowd barriers to dash past Walsheid for the stage victory.

Riders had to contend with temperatures in the high 30s Celsius (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) as they raced through the Adelaide Hills, then contended with heat and crosswinds on the long ride along a broad and exposed motorway to the finish.

Organizers had intended to finish with a 3.4-km circuit but, after concerns about the heat, winds and possible traffic problems, they opted instead for a straight run into the finish.

“Today the plan was to wait a little bit and put me in the best position,” Viviani said. “Also the lead out guys had to bring some wind in the face from five kilometers to one kilometer out. Sometimes the danger is you don’t have the space to go through, but I found a little space on the left on the barriers.”

Viviani claimed the win for his Deceuninck-Quick Step team ahead of Walscheid while Italy’s Jakub Mareczko was third. Sagan finished in eighth place with the same time as the winner.

Zakarin wins 1st mountain-top finish of Giro; Polanc leads

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CERESOLE REALE, Italy (AP) Russian rider Ilnur Zakarin won the 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia with a solo attack up to the race’s first big mountain-top finish, and Jan Polanc held onto the overall leader’s pink jersey Friday.

Zakarin, who rides for Team Katusha Alpecin, required more than 5+ hours to complete the 196-kilometer (122-mile) route from Pinerolo to Ceresole Reale near Turin. It was the third Grand Tour stage win of Zakarin’s career, having also won stages in the 2015 Giro and 2016 Tour de France.

The route featured three major climbs, including a grueling ascent to Ceresole Reale between banks of snow lining the road.

Zakarin was part of an early breakaway and then accelerated away from Mikel Nieve in the final kilometers. Nieve crossed second, 35 seconds behind, and Mikel Landa finished third, 1:20 behind.

Overall favorites Primoz Roglic and Vincenzo Nibali finished in a two-man group in seventh and eighth, respectively, both nearly three minutes behind Zakarin.

Roglic and Nibali finished well ahead of Polanc, who took the lead on Thursday.

Polanc now leads Roglic by 2:25 with Zakarin third, 2:56 behind, Bauke Mollema fourth and Nibali fifth.

“We knew the last climb will be really hard,” Zakarin said through a translator. “I didn’t have a plan for the climb. I did my best and this is the result. The ambition is to be in the top five and now it is possible.”

Landa, who has gained time on the other overall favorites for two consecutive days, is eighth. Miguel Angel Lopez had a mechanical problem with his chain on the final climb and trails by 7:48.

Team Ineos rider Tao Geoghegan Hart of Britain crashed out while in an early breakaway.

Stage 14 on Saturday is another grueling mountain leg, featuring five climbs and another uphill finish along the 131-kilometer route from Saint-Vincent to Courmayeur in the Valle d’Aosta region near the French border.

The three-week race ends in Verona on June 2.

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

Demare wins crash-affected Stage 10; Conti keeps Giro lead

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MODENA, Italy (AP) Arnaud Demare of France sprinted to victory after a crash affected the end of the 10th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday, while Italian cyclist Valerio Conti kept the overall lead.

Demare, who rides for Groupama-FDJ, edged out Elia Viviani and Rudiger Selig in a bunch sprint at the end of the entirely flat 145-kilometer (90-mile) route from Ravenna to Modena.

“We came to the Giro for this. I really wanted a stage win and I got it,” Demare said. “I avoided the crash because we, as a team, were very well positioned. I’m super happy.”

A crash inside the final kilometer ended Pascal Ackermann’s chances of claiming a third stage win at this year’s Giro. The German cyclist finished the stage with his shorts and jersey in tatters.

Ackermann appeared to touch wheels with the rider in front of him, causing him to go down and taking out a number of other cyclists.

The most seriously injured was Matteo Moschetti, who briefly lost consciousness. His Trek-Segafredo teammates and other cyclists frantically waved over medics and Moschetti attempted to stand but swiftly sat down again.

The 22-year-old was taken to a hospital.

As the crash happened inside the final three kilometers there were no time gaps given. Conti remained 1 minute, 50 seconds ahead of Primoz Roglic and 2:21 ahead of Nans Peters of France.

“It wasn’t a hard day but, as everyone saw, danger is always around the corner,” Conti said. “Luckily I managed to avoid all the crashes. It went well, another day in the pink jersey is a source of pride.”

Wednesday’s 11th stage is also entirely flat along the 221-kilometer route from Carpi to Novi Ligure.

The Giro finishes in Verona on June 2.

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