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Another Austrian cyclist admits blood doping as case widens

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VIENNA — Austrian cyclist Georg Preidler has admitted to blood doping linked to a case in which five skiers were arrested, his professional team Groupama-FDJ said Monday.

Preidler offered “his immediate and spontaneous resignation, justified by his inexcusable involvement” in the doping case, Groupama-FDJ said. He had allegedly undergone “blood collection” procedures twice last year.

The team said it had informed the International Cycling Union, French law enforcement and the French anti-doping agency.

“The UCI does not have any first-hand information concerning confessions made by cyclists,” the Switzerland-based governing body said in a statement.

However, the cycling body said it asked its independent investigators to exchange information with Austrian authorities and the World Anti-Doping Agency to advance each other’s cases.

Authorities in Austria previously said Sunday that another rider had admitted to doping and was suspected of sports fraud in connection with the case. That rider wasn’t named under Austrian privacy laws.

Preidler has raced in eight Grand Tours, including twice at the Tour de France, and took part in the Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta last season. He was 16th for Austria in the time trial at the 2016 Olympics.

Austrian and German police arrested nine people last week, including five cross-country skiers at the world championships and a German doctor. Austrian authorities said they had disrupted an “international doping ring” with involvement in multiple sports. One skier was arrested part-way through a blood transfusion.

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 denied wrongdoing.

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.