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Ackermann wins Stage 2 of Giro; Roglic maintains overall lead

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FUCECCHIO, Italy — Pascal Ackermann of Germany sprinted to victory at the end of the second stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, while Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic remained overall leader.

It was the first win in his first Grand Tour for the 25-year-old Ackermann, who rides for Bora-Hansgrohe.

Ackermann edged out Elia Viviani and Caleb Ewan in a bunch sprint at the end of the rolling 205-kilometer (127-mile) route from Bologna to Fucecchio.

“I’m just so happy to win the first sprint stage because now all the pressure is gone and we showed we are really strong,” Ackermann said. “I’m just so happy.”

All the major favorites avoided a small crash towards the front of the peloton inside the final kilometer. Ackermann and Ewan started their sprints around the same time but Ewan also lost out to Viviani who managed to secure second spot.

“I chose the right moment to sprint from 250 meters to go,” Ackermann added. “Viviani was also really strong luckily I started first and I won today. To win the first stage of my first Grand Tour is fantastic.”

The first part of the stage was wet and cold but it dried up in the second half of the day and the cyclists were able to shed some layers.

Roglic, who won the opening time trial on Saturday, is 19 seconds ahead of British cyclist Simon Yates in the overall standings and 23 seconds ahead of home favorite Vincenzo Nibali.

“It wasn’t an easy day because it was cold from the beginning and also quite fast all the time,” Roglic said. “It’ll be another day in the Maglia Rosa tomorrow. The team worked hard for that. It’s a pleasure to retain the jersey.”

Monday’s third stage is another one for the sprinters, a 220-kilometer route from Vinci to Orbetello.

The Giro finishes in Verona on June 2.

Roglic wins Stage 9; Conti keeps pink jersey in Giro

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SAN MARINO (AP) Primoz Roglic of Slovenia won the ninth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday as Italian cyclist Valerio Conti extended his overall lead after the individual time trial.

Roglic, who also won the opening individual time trial, was quickest on the rain-soaked 35-kilometer (22-mile) route from Riccione that had an uphill finish in San Marino – the only time this year that the Giro crosses into another country.

The 29-year-old Roglic was 11 seconds faster than Belgium cyclist Victor Campenaerts and one minute ahead of Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands.

Roglic had been more than five minutes behind Conti going into the time trial but moved into second overall, 1:50 behind the UAE Team Emirates cyclist, who had replaced Roglic in the overall lead after finishing second in Thursday’s sixth stage.

Moreover, Roglic gained time on his rivals. British cyclist Simon Yates – one of the pre-race favorites – finished more than three minutes behind Roglic.

“It’s a perfect performance in my mind. I did a good job,” Roglic said. “I took it easy at the beginning and I gave it all at the end.

“It’s nice to take some time over the other GC favorites but the Giro is far from over.”

Nans Peters of France moved third overall, 2:21 behind Conti.

“It was very rainy for me but I stayed calm. My goal was to keep the Maglia Rosa so I’m very happy with the result,” Conti said.

Vincenzo Nibali fared the best out of the rest of the pre-race favorites, finishing fourth on a day which saw only 12 riders finish within two minutes of the winner. The Italian is 3:34 behind Conti.

Monday is the race’s first rest day before Tuesday’s 10th stage, an entirely flat 145-kilometer route from Ravenna to Modena.

The Giro finishes in Verona on June 2.

Pogacar, van der Breggen win Tour of California

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PASADENA, Calif. – Tadej Pogacar did the work necessary to win the Tour of California on the steep climb of Mt. Baldy.

His team did the work it needed for him to win on the run-in to Pasadena.

With big names going on the attack midway through the final stage Saturday, UAE Team Emirates was able to consistently keep their young star out of trouble. And when the field came back for a sprint at the Rose Bowl, all Pogacar had to do was raise his hands in overall victory.

Cees Bol of Team Sunweb won the group sprint ahead of three-time world champion Peter Sagan to win the seventh stage, while Jasper Philipsen capped a big day for Team Emirates with a third-place run.

Pogacar’s first WorldTour stage race victory came ahead of Sergio Iguita, who went on the attack on one of the day’s final climbs, and Kasper Asgreen of the strong Deceuninck-Quick Step team.

“This was my main goal this year,” said the 20-year-old Pogacar, who was inspired to pick up cycling by his brother. “I knew that I was prepared. I surprised myself a bit that I took the overall win, but I’m really happy and I’m looking forward to next year.”

In the three-stage women’s race, Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen held the lead she took on the first stage all the way to Pasadena, finishing 29 seconds ahead of teammate Katie Hall.

Elisa Balsamo beat Arlenis Sierra and Leigh Ann Ganzer in a sprint on the final stage.

“It’s really special,” said van der Breggen, who finished just behind Hall on the Stage 2 climb to Mt. Baldy. “Katie won here last year and I the year before. We get to work together now. Yeah, getting a one-two result, we didn’t think that was possible before. It’s great for the spirit of the team.”

The short final stage took riders 126 kilometers from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. And with Pogacar holding a 16-second lead on Higuita after his win on Mt. Baldy, the contenders knew they had to make something happen on the short hills midway through the stage.

Max Shachmann got into an early breakaway with Davide Ballerini, Alex Hoehn and a handful of other strong climbers. Asgreen soon attacked the lead group, but their advantage over Pogacar’s chase group was not enough to prevent the field coming together during the final circuits around the stadium.

Deceuninck-Quick Step, which had a strong week of racing, set the tempo for its sprinter, Fabio Jakobsen, and Team Ineos tried to set up Kristoffer Halvorsen with a lead-out. But it was Bol, riding for Team Sunweb, who timed his sprint perfectly to nip Sagan at the line.

“It was quite a chaotic stage,” Sagan said. “I probably reacted a bit late to Bol’s sprint.”

Philipsen’s third-place finish helped him secure the best young rider jersey, while Asgreen won the points jersey as the top sprinter and Ballerini secured the king of the mountains jersey.

“This is my first time here in California. It’s beautiful country,” Ballerini said. “I tried to win a stage but it wasn’t easy. I tried to get away also today, but it was a very short, fast stage.”

That was good news for Pogacar, who was able to hold onto his 16-second advantage over Higuita, riding for EF Education First. Asgreen was another second back to round out the podium, while former race winner George Bennett was 29 seconds back in fourth for his Team Jumbo-Visma.

Asked where the relatively unknown Pogacar picked up his beyond-his-years poise and tactics, he replied: “I think from all the racing over the years, with great coaching. I’ve been racing 10 years now and you learn stuff. But I still don’t know everything.”

It seems as if van der Breggen does.

The world’s best rider by a wide margin, van der Breggen stayed close to the front of the peloton as it reeled in the breakaway, helping to ensure the final stage of the women’s race would be a sprint.

American rider Coryn Rivera came to the front and was just starting to ramp up the speed when she sustained a mechanical problem at the worst possible moment. That opened the door for Balsamo, who held off Sierra and Ganzer with Chloe Dygert of the U.S. right behind in fourth.

Van der Breggen and Hall were joined on the final podium by Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio.

“It was a hard stage race. Three beautiful stages,” van der Breggen said. “They didn’t make it easy for us the last day. We’re really happy to finish first and second. It’s a great result.”

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