Hirschi, Van der Breggen win Fleche Wallonne classic races

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HUY, Belgium — Marc Hirschi extended his stellar run in a breakout cycling season to win the Fleche Wallonne one-day classic on Wednesday.

In his first start at the race defined by the short but grueling Mur de Huy finishing climb, the 22-year-old Swiss rider went clear in the last 100 meters to win comfortably ahead of Benoit Cosnefroy. Michael Woods was third.

“It’s just brutal,” Hirschi said of the steep ride to the top. “You have to be strong in the head to get through the pain.”

Hirschi added his first win in a classic to his bronze medal from the world championships road race on Sunday and his impressive Tour de France. There, he won a stage, was a regular threat in breakaways and won the prize as the most combative rider overall in the three-week tour.

In the women’s race earlier, world champion Anna van der Breggen won for the sixth straight time.

Four days after claiming the world champion’s rainbow jersey, Van der Breggen was able to follow an attack from Demi Vollering on the steep climb to the finish. Vollering ran out of gas in the final meters and Van der Breggen overpowered Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig to prevail in the sprint.

Vollering completed the podium.

“I think it was the closest of every year. It means a lot,” said Van der Breggen. “This finale is incredibly hard, winning six times is crazy.”

Van der Breggen, who also claimed gold in the road race at the 2016 Rio Olympics, secured a rare double at the world championships last week, winning both the road race and the time trial.

Normally scheduled in the spring, the Fleche Wallonne races were pushed back to September because of the coronavirus pandemic that brought the cycling season to a halt for several months.

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.

Filippo Ganna breaks cycling’s hour world record

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GRENCHEN, Switzerland — Time trial specialist Filippo Ganna broke cycling’s hour record when he covered 56.792 kilometers in 60 minutes.

The Italian extended the record by more than 1.2 kilometers, the biggest jump in seven years.

Asked to describe the pain of the last five minutes, he said, “I lost energy to try to go for 57, but nothing (in the legs).”

He said he was open to another attempt at a different time of the season, when he was fresher.

Ganna took the record from British teammate Dan Bigham, who made his mark at the same Swiss velodrome on Aug. 19.