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Bilbao wins Stage 7 of Giro; Conti keeps pink jersey

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L’AQUILA, Italy — Pello Bilbao won the seventh stage of the Giro d’Italia with a late attack while Valero Conti held onto the overall leader’s pink jersey Friday.

Bilbao was part of an early breakaway and accelerated uphill from a group of five riders with little more than one kilometer remaining in the undulating 185-kilometer (115-mile) stage from Vasto to L’Aquila.

Bilbao, who rides for Astana, had time to celebrate and punch the air as he crossed the line.

Tony Gallopin was second and Davide Formolo was third, both five seconds behind.

Jose Rojas, who was also part of the breakaway, moved up to second overall, 1:32 behind Conti, who took the lead a day earlier. Giovanni Carboni is third, 1:41 back, with Bilbao 11th.

Fernando Gaviria, Conti’s teammate on UAE Emirates and winner of the third stage, abandoned the race with pain in his left knee. That leaves Conti with only five riders to help him protect the lead.

The stage paid homage to L’Aquila a decade after an earthquake devastated the town in the Abruzzo region.

Stage 8 on Saturday is the three-week race’s longest, a 239-kilometer leg from Tortoreto Lido to Pesaro. The opening 140 kilometers of the stage are flat but the second half is hilly.

The Giro ends June 2 in Verona.

Hermans wins Tour of Utah with strong ride in final stage

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PARK CITY, Utah — Ben Hermans finished near the front once more in the final stage of the Tour of Utah on Sunday, allowing him to wrap up the overall title after taking second in the week-long race a year ago.

Joe Dombrowski won the finale, an 83-mile trek that began and ended in Park City, with 24 seconds to spare over a chase group led by Joao Almeida. Herman and Keegan Swirbul were another two seconds back with James Piccoli, one of the main instigators all week, rounding out the top five.

The finish was enough to give Hermans, riding for the Israel Cycling Academy, a 50-second margin over Piccoli with Dombrowski another 42 seconds back in third place.

The 33-year-old Hermans has experienced something of a rejuvenation this season. He won a stage and the overall at the Tour of Austria before taking the second and third stages in Utah.

“It’s really amazing,” the Belgian said. “I’ve been fourth, second last year, and to win – finally first. I really enjoy it here. It’s amazing to ride for these crowds and to be there on the podium in the yellow jersey is really, really nice.”

Travis McCabe won the white jersey awarded to the race’s top sprinter. Piccolli was crowned most aggressive rider, Almeida was top young rider and Hayden McCormick won the mountains classification.

Italian cycling great Felice Gimondi dies at age 76

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ROME == Felice Gimondi, one of only seven cyclists to have won all three Grand Tours, has died. He was 76.

The Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) said efforts to resuscitate Gimondi failed after the Italian suffered a heart attack while swimming on vacation in Sicily on Friday and died the same day.

Gimondi won the Tour de France in 1965 as a 22-year-old in his first year as a professional. He went on to win the Giro d’Italia in 1967, 1969 and 1976, and the Spanish Vuelta in 1968.

“Felice was one of the greatest champions to win great tours, a world championship and important classics while contesting, he alone, Eddy Merckx,” FCI president Renato Di Rocco said. “A great man who marked an era. Italian cycling mourns the passing of one of its pillars.”

Five-time Tour de France winner Merckx told Italian news agency ANSA, “A man like Gimondi is not born every day. With him goes a piece of my life. He was among the greatest ever.”

The other cyclists to win all three Grand Tours are Belgian rider Merckx, Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault of France, Alberto Contador of Spain, Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Britain’s Chris Froome.