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Cyclist admits blood doping amid investigations into network

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VIENNA — The blood doping case which started with police raids at the Nordic skiing world championships four days ago spread to cycling on Sunday.

In Austria, authorities confirmed local media reports that an Austrian professional cyclist admitted to doping after being arrested on Friday following investigations into an alleged blood doping network.

Innsbruck state prosecutors’ spokesman Hansjorg Mayr said “a Tyrolean cyclist” was suspected of sports fraud in connection with the case involving “a German doctor and his accomplices.”

“The man was arrested on Friday, he has confessed, and he was released the same day,” said Mayr, who did not identify the cyclist in accordance with Austrian privacy laws.

It was the first arrest of an athlete from outside winter sports following Wednesday’s police raids in Erfurt, Germany, and at the Nordic worlds in Seefeld, Austria.

The raids led to the immediate arrests of nine people, including Austrian cross-country skiers Max Hauke and Dominik Baldauf, four-time Olympian Alexei Poltoranin of Kazakhstan, and Estonian teammates Karel Tammjarv and Andreas Veerpalu. All five have been provisionally suspended by the International Ski Federation.

The doctor at the center of the case is Mark Schmidt, who worked for the Gerolsteiner cycling team around the time Austrian rider Bernhard Kohl was stripped of his third place and the polka-dot jersey for best climber at the 2008 Tour de France for doping.

Schmidt, who was arrested in Erfurt, where he has a medical practice, has always denied wrongdoing. The remaining three people arrested were associates.

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.