Yates win during Stage 18 of Giro d’Italia only dents Bernal’s lead

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ALPE DI MERA, Italy — British cyclist Simon Yates attacked on the steep ascent to the finish to win Stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia and made only a dent on Egan Bernal’s overall lead with two days remaining.

Yates, who rides for Team BikeExchange, attacked with more than six kilometers (four miles) to go and held off the field on the double-digit gradient to the Alpe di Mera finish.

Joao Almeida was second at the end of the 166-kilometer (103-mile) leg from Abbiategrasso, 11 seconds behind Yates. Bernal decided not to respond to Yates and merely to manage the gap; the Colombian finished third, 28 seconds behind.

Yates remained third overall, 2 minutes, 49 seconds behind Bernal, who actually increased his lead slightly over second-placed Damiano Caruso to 2:29.

“Today, I took one step further towards that final win,” said Bernal, also the 2019 Tour de France champion. “Now I’m confident ahead of tomorrow’s stage, which I’ll enjoy riding at a higher altitude. I want to arrive at (Sunday’s) time trial with some extra energy.”

There is another day in the high mountains on Saturday and Yates and his team hinted they would try and attack early rather than simply protect his podium place.

“I will try. Its going to be difficult. The gap is still massive,” Yates said. “I only gained 30 seconds today and I still need nearly three minutes.

“If I have legs I will try but it will be difficult.”

Yates led the race for 13 days in 2018, the same year he won the Spanish Vuelta. He had to abandon last year’s Giro after testing positive for COVID-19.

The penultimate stage on Saturday has been given the maximum difficulty rating of five stars. The 164-kilometer (102-mile) route from Verbania to Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta includes more than 4,200 meters of vertical gain and three top-category climbs including the final ascent to another summit finish.

The Giro finishes on Sunday in Milan with an individual time trial.

“For me, the most important thing is to have the maglia rosa (leader’s pink jersey) in Milan,” Bernal said. “When I have the legs, I like to attack. But now there’s one rider stronger than me and it’s Simon Yates.

“I want to keep the time I gained earlier in the Giro because that’s the fruits of great team work so I don’t want to make any mistakes that could ruin everything.”

Friday’s stage was modified to bypass the top-category climb of the Mottarone after a cable car disaster there killed 14 people on Sunday. The new, slightly shorter route nevertheless featured three categorized climbs – including a top-classed one to the finish.

The riders unanimously decided to donate all of the prize money from the stage to the sole survivor, five-year-old Eitan Biran, and the families of the victims.

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.