De Bondt wins last flat stage of Giro d’Italia; Carapaz still leads

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TREVISO, Italy — Belgian rider Dries De Bondt won a four-man sprint to take the last flat stage of a Giro d’Italia that looks like being decided on the last day.

Richard Carapaz, the 2019 champion and Tokyo Olympics gold medalist, maintained a three-second lead in the overall standings from Australia’s Jai Hindley, who was runner-up in 2020.

Hindley had a tire puncture within the final three kilometers of the stage – which were neutralized, meaning he was given the same finishing time as the other leaders he was riding with when he had to stop for mechanical help.

Mikel Landa stayed third overall, 1:05 behind Carapaz.

The remaining three stages will determine the winner: Grueling mountain legs followed by a hilly individual time trial that ends the race in Verona.

“I checked Landa and Hindley all the time as I knew there could be some gaps,” Carapaz said. “I want to keep the maglia rosa till the end, I trust in my legs.”

Joao Almeida, the Portuguese rider who stood fourth overall, withdrew before the 18th stage after testing positive for COVID-19. Almeida was 1:54 behind Carapaz.

Two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali — who plans to retire at the end of the season — moved up to fourth, although he remained nearly six minutes off the lead.

The stage ended with a flat circuit around Treviso to conclude a 156-kilometer (97-mile) route from Borgo Valsugana that included two fourth-category climbs.

De Bondt, who rides for the Alpecin-Fenix team, was part of an early four-man breakaway and he sprinted past Edoardo Affini and Magnus Cort Nielsen at the line.

“We did a good operation with the other escapees in the final kilometers to keep the peloton behind, and then we had to focus on Magnus who is a very fast rider,” De Bondt said. “It’s my first win in a GT (Grand Tour), I can’t believe it. It was a dream to achieve a win like this.”

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.