Pogačar wins Lombardia again; last race for Valverde, Nibali

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COMO, Italy – Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar edged Enric Mas to successfully defend his title at Il Lombardia, which marked the final race of Grand Tour champions Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali.

Pogačar, the Slovenian who rides for UAE Team Emirates, outsprinted Mas at the end of the 253-kilometer (157-mile) route from Bergamo to Como to claim victory in the final one-day classic of the season.

Nothing could separate the duo on the highly demanding route that featured nine climbs. But Pogačar won the sprint to the line for his 16th victory of the season and 46th in his career.

“It’s really amazing to come back and repeat the victory. I tried to attack on the Civiglio climb but Mas was clearly on the same level as me. I was still confident that I would beat him in the sprint,” said Pogačar, who finished second in the Tour this year after winning the previous two.

“At Giro dell’Emilia, I was still suffering from the trip back from Australia, but I have felt better and better since. This victory makes it an almost perfect 2022 season for me.”

Mikel Landa was third, 10 seconds behind Pogačar and Mas. Only Sergio Higuita and Carlos Rodríguez were also within a minute of the top two.

The 42-year-old Valverde of Spain, who won the Spanish Vuelta in 2009, was sixth. Italian cyclist Nibali was 24th, more than two minutes behind Pogačar.

The 37-year-old Nibali, who is one of only seven cyclists to have won all three Grand Tours, was loudly cheered throughout the race.

“I enjoyed the race and the fans, unfortunately the legs only went so far,” said Nibali, who announced his upcoming retirement at the Giro d’Italia this year.

“It has been a long, emotional road that started at the Giro d’Italia but I managed to unload some of the emotion during the year. I really thank everyone who greeted me and thanked me along the route.”

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.