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James Piccoli wins opening prologue at Tour of Utah

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HOLLADAY, Utah — James Piccoli won the opening prologue at Snowbird Resort on Monday to take the leader’s jersey in the Tour of Utah, triumphing over a field of 113 riders to start the seven-day race.

The 27-year-old Canadian finished the 3.3-mile ride over lumpy terrain at elevations of above 8,000 feet in 8 minutes, 37.59 seconds. That was good enough for a six-second advantage over the trio of Lawson Craddock, Serghei Tvetcov and Joao Almeida heading into Stage 2.

Piccoli has had a banner season, winning the Tour of the Gila and finishing second in the Tour de Beauce and the Joe Martin Stage Race, three of the premier events on the North American circuit.

The first full stage Tuesday takes riders 87 miles around Logan City. The ride covers the western slopes of the Bear River Mountains and, with two circuits around Little Mountain, tops over 4,300 feet of climbing before the riders finish with five downtown circuits.

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.

Marco Canola wins sprint to take stage at Tour of Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY — Marco Canola jumped ahead of the sprinters left from a reduced bunch, holding off Travis McCabe and Brendan Rhim to win Friday night’s criterium-like stage in the Tour of Utah.

The stage in the state capital covered eight laps of just under seven miles apiece, yet the field came together on a steep ascent inside of a mile to go. James Piccoli surged to the front in search of a win that has eluded him all week, but Canola swept past everyone to pick up the win.

Ben Hermans held onto his overall lead by 44 seconds. Piccoli remained in second place.

Hayden McCormick made an embarrassing mistake when he surged to the front at the conclusion of the penultimate lap, then threw his arms in the air in celebration thinking he had won.

The stage Saturday takes riders 80 miles, starting and finishing in Park City.