Chris Froome out of Tour de France with COVID-19

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LOURDES, France — Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome pulled out of cycling’s biggest race after testing positive for COVID-19.

Froome withdrew from the Tour ahead of Stage 18 from Lourdes to Hautacam in the Pyrenees.

Froome said in a video message he will take a few days off and refocus on competing at the Spanish Vuelta next month.

Froome, who rides for the Israel-Premier Tech team, said he was sad not to reach Paris after achieving his best result since a career-changing crash in 2019 with a third-place finish in the Alpe d’Huez stage last week.

The Tour ends on Sunday on the Champs-Elysees.

“I’m really disappointed not to be able to roll into Paris and finish off this Tour de France,” Froome said. “It’s been an extremely special race for us as a team and for me personally as well. I’ve really been finding my legs again.”

Froome was 26th overall, lagging 1 hour, 27 minutes, 14 seconds behind race leader Jonas Vingegaard.

So much has changed for Froome since that training crash during the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine, an event he had been using to fine-tune his bid for a record-equaling fifth Tour title. The accident not only left him with a fractured right femur, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs, it also cost him his spot in Team Ineos’ Tour de France squad the year after.

After getting back to competitive racing, Froome did not return to his previous best level and lost his status as the leader of the British team. After it was announced his contract could not be renewed and that he would be joining the fast-growing Israel Start-Up Nation team, Froome was left out of the Ineos roster for the 2020 Tour because of poor form.

The Kenyan-born cyclist is still very far from the level that helped him secure the Spanish Vuelta (in 2011 and 2017) and the Giro d’Italia (2018) in addition to his four Tour titles.

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.