Bernal takes Giro d’Italia lead into final day, Caruso wins Stage 20

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VALLE SPLUGA-ALPE MOTTA, Italy — Egan Bernal looks set to add the Giro d’Italia title to his Tour de France win after maintaining a significant lead at the end of the penultimate stage, which was won by Italian rider Damiano Caruso on Saturday.

It was a first-ever victory in a Grand Tour for Caruso, who also all but secured second place overall, and it came on one of the most difficult stages. Stage 20 had been given the maximum difficulty rating of five stars.

The 164-kilometer (102-mile) route from Verbania to Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta featured more than 4,200 meters of vertical gain and three top-category climbs, including the final ascent to another summit finish, where Caruso soloed to victory.

The Bahrain Victorious rider shook his head in disbelief as he rounded the final corner before zipping up his top and raising his hands across his head as he crossed the line.

“I thought about a thousand things in the last meters before the finish line, all my sacrifices, my training, and all the work done by my teammates,” Caruso said.

“We rode in an exemplary way today, Pello Bilbao in particular did an incredible job and he played a fundamental role in this victory. Today I realized a dream, I think I am the happiest man in the world!”

Bernal finished 24 seconds behind and has an overall lead of 1 minute, 59 seconds over Caruso heading into the final day’s time trial in Milan on Sunday. Bernal is 3:23 ahead of third-place Simon Yates after the expected attack from the British rider failed to materialize.

Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France winner, was helped heavily throughout the stage by Ineos Grenadiers teammate Daniel Martinez, who paced him brilliantly up the final climb and finished the stage in third, 35 seconds behind Caruso.

“Today we rode very well as a team, we controlled the race in the best possible way,” Bernal said. “My teammates did a super job … I had good legs and I knew I had teammates around me but when Caruso attacked, with his advantage increasing, I admit I was worried.

“Now I am confident for tomorrow’s last stage, I have a two-minute lead in the GC and I will give everything in the time trial.”

The Giro finishes in familiar fashion. The individual time trial is an entirely flat, 30.3-kilometer (18.8-mile) route that ends in front of Milan’s famous cathedral.

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.