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Belgian cycling race stopped after women’s rider caught men

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The women’s edition of a prestigious one-day cycling race in Belgium was halted after a breakaway rider had almost caught the men’s race, which had started on the same course 10 minutes earlier.

Former Swiss road race champion Nicole Hanselmann rode clear in the opening miles of Omloop het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. But when she approached the men’s race, organizers of the early cobbled classic called for the women’s race to be neutralized so that a gap would remain between the races.

Hanselmann was allowed to restart ahead of the rest of the field in an attempt to restore the two-minute advantage she had built up. But the break coupled with the cold conditions sapped Hanselmann of energy and the rest of the field eventually caught her.

Chantal Blaak wound up winning the race. Hanselmann finished 74th.

Alaphilippe wins Milan-San Remo for seventh win of season

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French rider Julian Alaphilippe confirmed his status as the top cyclist so far this season by winning the Milan-San Remo classic on Saturday.

Alaphilippe, who rides for the Quick-Step team, edged Oliver Naesen of AG2R and Michal Kwiatkowski of Team Sky in a 10-man sprint at the end of the 291-kilometer (181-mile) route along the Italian Riviera.

Three-time world champion Peter Sagan finished fourth.

It was Alaphilippe’s seventh win this season, adding to his Strade Bianche title this month and stage wins in the Vuelta a San Juan (2), Tour of Colombia, and Tirreno-Adriatico (2).

Alaphilippe attacked on the final climb up the Poggio and was followed by a small group of other elite riders to set up the sprint. He finished with a time of nearly seven hours.

“I will need some time to realize what I have achieved today,” Alaphilippe said. “We made the race hard and I stayed focused. … I made no mistake. It’s unbelievable.”

Fausto Masnada, the last remaining rider from an early 10-man breakaway, was caught with 25 kilometers to go.

Britain’s richest man becomes new sponsor of Team Sky

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LONDON — Britain’s richest man has bought the Team Sky cycling team, which will be renamed Team Ineos.

Jim Ratcliffe, who is the chairman of chemicals giant Ineos, is reported by the Sunday Times rich list as being worth 21 billion dollars (18.5 million euros).

Ineos pledged in a statement on Tuesday to honor all “existing commitments to riders, staff and partners.”

The team’s launch takes place at the Tour de Yorkshire which starts in Doncaster on May 2.

Sky’s long-time team principal Dave Brailsford welcomed the move, saying “it ends the uncertainty around the team” and “represents a huge vote of confidence in our future.”

Sky has won six of the past seven Tour de France races, with Chris Froome winning four times and Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas winning it once.

British broadcaster Sky announced its withdrawal from the sport last December following the European pay TV giant’s takeover by American company Comcast.