Pogacar wins hail-hit Pyrenees stage, Quintana leads Vuelta

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CORTALS D’ENCAMP, Andorra (AP) Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia won a stormy mountainous ninth stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Sunday, and Nairo Quintana took over the race lead.

“When I saw the weather yesterday, I was happy it was going to rain,” the 20-year-old Pogacar said. “On the ground section I went full gas. Today was a tricky stage, a lot of technical areas … and also a hail storm. It was an incredible ride.”

Pogacar, who rides for UAE Team Emirates, finished the short but extremely challenging 94.4-kilometer (58.6-mile) stage in 2 hours, 58 minutes.

Quintana crossed the line next as the rider for Movistar took the red leader’s jersey from Nicolas Edet, who was dropped early in the stage.

The highly anticipated stage in the Pyrenees shattered the peloton with five summit climbs and a 4-kilometer (2 1/2-mile) gravel track near the end, which the riders reached amid heavy rain and hail.

The strongest of the favorites for the Grand Tour all finished within a minute of each other, leaving them in a tight bunch ahead of the first rest day.

Primoz Roglic overcame signs of weakness and finished in third, as the Slovenian moved to second overall at six seconds behind Quintana.

Fellow contender Miguel Angel Lopez looked like he was going to deal a blow to his rivals after he dropped them with a powerful attack. But he fell on the gravel stretch when the weather was at its worst. The Colombian finished the stage ninth and is third overall at 17 seconds behind fellow countryman Quintana.

Lopez said the stage should have been stopped because of the weather. A mountain stage was halted in the Tour de France in July when rain made the course impossible to ride.

“I have my arms scraped up,” Lopez said. “It was very dangerous. At least there wasn’t a descent.”

World champion Alejandro Valverde, a teammate of Quintana, is fourth at 20 seconds back.

The racing resumes Tuesday with an individual time trial across the border in France. Roglic is considered the best suited of the top riders to make big gains on the 36 kilometers (22.3 miles) from Jurancon to Pau.

“The important thing was to try to take some time on Roglic, who should do well on the time trial,” said former Vuelta winner Quintana.

Davide Rebellin dies after hit by truck while training

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MILAN — Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin, one of the sport’s longest-serving professionals, died after being struck by a truck while training. He was 51.

Rebellin was riding near the town of Montebello Vicentino in northern Italy when he was hit by a truck near a motorway junction. The vehicle did not stop, although Italian media reported that the driver may have been unaware of the collision.

Local police are working to reconstruct the incident and find the driver.

Rebellin had only retired from professional cycling last month, bringing to an end a career that had spanned 30 years. He last competed for Work Service-Vitalcare-Dynatek and the UCI Continental team posted a tribute on its social media accounts.

“Dear Davide, keep pedaling, with the same smile, the same enthusiasm and the same passion as always,” the Italian team said. “This is not how we imagined the future together and it is not fair to have to surrender so suddenly to your tragic absence.”

“To your family, your loved ones, your friends and all the enthusiasts who, like us, are crying for you right now, we just want to say that we imagine you on a bicycle, looking for new roads, new climbs and new challenges even up there, in the sky.”

Rebellin’s successes included victories at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico as well as winning a stage in the 1996 edition of the Giro d’Italia, which he also led for six stages.

Rebellin won silver in the road race at the 2008 Olympic Games, but he was later stripped of his medal and banned for two years after a positive doping test. He had denied wrongdoing.

CAS upholds Nairo Quintana DQ from Tour de France for opioid use

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The disqualification of two-time Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana from his sixth place in the 2022 race for misuse of an opioid was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS said its judges dismissed Quintana’s appeal and agreed with the International Cycling Union that the case was a medical matter rather than a doping rules violation. He will not be banned.

The court said the judges ruled “the UCI’s in-competition ban on tramadol was for medical rather than doping reasons and was therefore within the UCI’s power and jurisdiction.”

Traces of the synthetic painkiller tramadol were found in two dried blood spot samples taken from the Colombian racer five days apart in July, the UCI previously said.

Quintana’s case is among the first to rely on the dried blood spot (DBS) method of collecting samples which the World Anti-Doping Agency approved last year.

Tramadol was banned in 2019 from use at cycling races because of potential side effects. They include the risk of addiction, dizziness, drowsiness and loss of attention.

Quintana finished second in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015, won both times by Chris Froome. He won the 2014 Giro d’Italia.