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2021 Tour de France to start in Denmark

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — 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.

Ban for 2011 Vuelta winner Cobo could give title to Froome

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AIGLE, Switzerland — Juan Jose Cobo has been banned from cycling for three years after being found guilty of doping in 2011, the year he won the Spanish Vuelta.

Cobo’s ban puts 2011 Vuelta runner-up Chris Froome in line for a seventh Grand Tour title.

The International Cycling Union says Cobo has been found “guilty of an anti-doping rule violation.” The UCI says the case was “based on abnormalities from 2009 and 2011 detected in his biological passport.”

The now-retired 38-year-old Spanish rider won the three-week Vuelta for his first Grand Tour title in September 2011, finishing 13 seconds ahead of Froome. Bradley Wiggins was third.

The UCI says Cobo has a one-month deadline to file an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Carapaz on verge of Giro victory; Bilbao wins Stage 20

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CROCE D’AUNE-MONTE AVENA, Italy (AP) Ecuadorian cyclist Richard Carapaz took a huge step towards winning the Giro d’Italia as he preserved his overall lead at the end of the penultimate stage, which was won by Pello Bilbao of Spain on Saturday.

Carapaz, who rides for Movistar, remained 1 minute, 54 seconds ahead of Vincenzo Nibali ahead of the final time trial in Verona on Sunday.

“We’ve tried to win the stage with Mikel Landa as well as myself to retain the Maglia Rosa but we’ve missed out by very little,” Carapaz said. “However, we’re happy with how it went. I believe 1:54 over Nibali is enough although anything can happen in a final time trial.”

Landa leapfrogged Primoz Roglic into third, 2:53 behind Carapaz, after finishing second in a sprint with Bilbao after 194 kilometers (121 miles) from Feltre to Croce d’Aune-Monte Avena, which had five long, categorized climbs in the Dolomites.

It was Bilbao’s second Grand Tour victory after the Astana rider triumphed on Stage 7.

“I knew that Carapaz would try to give the win to Mikel Landa so I followed the best wheel,” Bilbao said. “My first win was special. This second win is even better because it’s a big mountain stage. When the GC riders caught us I thought it would be hard but they were tired, too.”

Giulio Ciccone was third, two seconds behind the front two.

Miguel Angel Lopez had hopes of competing for a stage win but he was tripped by a fan, who was running alongside encouraging him but collided with another spectator and fell onto the cyclist. As Lopez got back up, he slapped the fan. Lopez was still visibly furious when he crossed the line 18th, 1:49 off the pace.

“I’m sorry for what happened, I was full of pure adrenaline. But there needs to be more respect for the cyclists,” Lopez said.

Another incident with a fan also cost Roglic. The Slovenian was pushed by a spectator and didn’t attempt to push him away and so was penalized 10 seconds by the race jury. Roglic, who finished 50 seconds behind Carapaz, now trails by 3:16 overall. However, he is a time trial specialist and will hope to at least finish the three-week race on the podium.

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