Tour of the Alps: Chris Froome fourth as Thibaut Pinot takes title

Chris Froome

Chris Froome is set to compete in the Giro d’Italia for the first time since 2010

British four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome finished fourth in the Tour of the Alps as France’s Thibaut Pinot took the overall victory.

Froome, 32, came in 16 seconds behind Pinot after an eighth-placed finish on the final stage in his last race before the Giro d’Italia starts on 4 May.

“I think I’m a lot closer to being ready for the Giro than I wasand we’ve still got two weeks now,” said Froome.

Pinot becomes the second French winner after Luc Leblanc in 1997.

Ukraine’s Mark Padun won the fifth and final stage, making a late break to beat New Zealand’s George Bennett.

It was the 21-year-old Bahrain-Merida rider’s first professional victory.

Italy’s Domenico Pozzovivo finished overall second with Colombian Miguel Angle Lopez third.

Overall standings

1. Thibaut Pinot (France/FDJ) 18hr 28min 48sec

2. Domenico Pozzovivo (Italy/BAH) +15secs,

3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Colombia/AST) same time

4. Chris Froome (Great Britain/Sky) +16secs

5. George Bennett (New Zealand/TLJ) +1min

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Potholes postpone mass-participation cycling event

Boxford Tornado 2017Image copyright
Stewart Ambrose

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About 550 riders were due to take part in the annual Boxford Tornado in Suffolk on Sunday

An annual cycling event featuring 550 riders has been postponed because the route is “peppered” with potholes, organisers said.

The Boxford Tornado in south Suffolk was due to take place on Sunday.

But the organising committee said, having risk-assessed the route, the road conditions were “unsafe” for a mass-participation event.

Suffolk County Council said it was working through a “backlog” of road repairs after the “worst winter”.

Boxford Tornado’s organising committee said the decision to postpone “has not been taken lightly” and it had been rescheduled for 1 July.

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Boxford Bike Club

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The club meets in the south Suffolk village of Boxford, but the Tornado is open to non-members

In a statement on the website, it said: “The route uses many smaller back lanes and rural roads which are unfortunately peppered with a high number of potentially dangerous potholes and debris from flooding.”

It said the necessary repairs will not be completed in time for the event – now in its seventh year.

Riders who were due to take part said on social media they were “gutted” but it was a “totally understandable” decision.

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Stewart Ambrose

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It has been rescheduled for 1 July

Boxford Bike Club chairman Paul Barnett said the Tornado, which has 40 and 60 mile (64km and 97km) options, sold out in nine days.

The longer route goes from Boxford and winds its way through Kersey, Hitcham, Woolpit and Elmswell to Ixworth.

It then heads back south to Boxford through Thurston, Felsham, Thorpe Morieux and the Waldingfields.

Mr Barnett said money raised goes into Boxford community projects.

Jane Storey, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways, transport and rural issues, said: “It’s a shame that the event has been cancelled, but this has been the worst winter since records began and we are getting on top of the backlog.”

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Cavendish to return at Tour de Yorkshire

Mark Cavendish was injured twice in March

Mark Cavendish was due to represent the Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games in Australia before he was forced to withdraw

Mark Cavendish will make his return from injury at the Tour de Yorkshire in May after recovering from breaking ribs in two high-speed accidents in March.

The 32-year-old crashed at 55km/h on stage one of Tirreno-Adriatico and then somersaulted over his handlebars in the Milan-San Remo one-day classic.

“I’m delighted to be back racing sooner than I initially thought,” he said.

The four-day race, a legacy of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart hosted by Yorkshire, takes place from 3-6 May.

Cavendish’s injuries – he also damaged his ankle after flipping over a traffic bollard in the final 10km of the Milan-San Remo on 17 March – forced him to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games where he was due to compete for Isle of Man in the men’s road race on the Gold Coast.


Cavendish was due to compete in the men’s road race on the Gold Coast

The 30-time Tour de France stage winner – the second highest in race history – said the Tour de Yorkshire “could be described as a home race” for him and he is excited to take part.

“My mother’s from Harrogate and obviously the last time I raced things didn’t go that great (for me) in the 2014 Tour de France,” he said, referring to dislocating his collarbone in a crash on stage one.

“But one thing I do remember is the incredible crowds and I know that the Tour de Yorkshire always provides.

“It’s the first time that I’ve raced the Tour de Yorkshire and I’m extremely excited.

“Results-wise; I’m not sure where my form will be actually only having had a couple of weeks back on the bike but I’ll just be absorbing the atmosphere in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity – the man behind the race and who brought the Tour de France to the county – said he is looking forward to seeing “living legend” Cavendish in action.

He added: “His crash in Italy looked really serious but he’s such a tough, tenacious character and we’re thrilled he’s been able to make such a speedy recovery.

“I’m sure Mark will have his eyes on at least two of the stages on this year’s route and we can’t wait to see him launch his trademark sprint. It’s not every day you get to see a sportsman of his stature competing on home roads, and we’re certain he’ll receive a hero’s welcome.”

Cavendish is the second high-profile rider to confirm his attendance at the Tour de Yorkshire after his Team Dimension Data team-mate Serge Pauwels revealed last week he would be back to defend his title.

The four-day race starts on Thursday, 3 May with stage one going from Beverley to Doncaster.

Friday’s second stage takes the riders from Barnsley to Ilkley. Saturday’s third stage is from Richmond to Scarborough with the finale on Sunday, 6 May starting in Halifax and finishing in Leeds.

A two-day women’s race will take place on 3-4 May, preceding the men’s race and starting and finishing in the same towns.

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French cyclist Di Gregorio tests positive for EPO

French cyclist Remy di Gregorio

Remy di Gregorio won stage two of the Tour la Provence in February

French cyclist Remy di Gregorio has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for a form of banned blood-boosting hormone EPO.

The 32-year-old returned a positive test for darbepoetin (depo) on 8 March during stage race Paris-Nice.

Cycling’s world governing body the UCI said it was an “intelligence-led doping control” planned and carried out by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF).

Di Gregorio has the right to request and attend his B sample analysis.

The Frenchman has also been suspended by his team Delko-Marseille Provence KTM, who he joined in 2014.

“I am appalled and would feel deeply betrayed if the B sample analysis confirms the finding,” said team manager Frederic Rostaing.

“I am angry and sad, but this is not all – this fundamentally calls into question the investment in our project that started 20 years ago, with ethical values at its core.”

The Delko-Marseille Provence KTM rider was suspended and withdrawn from the 2012 Tour de France by former team Cofidis over doping allegations during the race.

He was sacked by Cofidis but partially cleared by the Court of Appeal in France and successfully sued his former team for wrongful dismissal in 2013.

Erythropoietin, or EPO, is a hormone which can increase endurance. It is injected under the skin and stimulates red blood cell production, which speeds up the delivery of oxygen to muscles.

It is one of several banned substances American cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to using to win his seven Tour titles, which he was later stripped of.

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UK Sport will not seek costs from Wiggins ‘jiffy bag’ investigation, says chief

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We did not cross the ethical line – Wiggins

UK Sport will not seek money from Team Sky and British Cycling to help pay for the UK Anti-Doping investigation into the ‘jiffy bag’ delivered to Sir Bradley Wiggins at a race in 2011, says chief executive Liz Nicholl.

A report by MPs said UK Sport should determine what Team Sky and British Cycling should pay Ukad to cover the costs of a 14-month investigation made “longer and harder” by their failure to keep proper records.

But Nicholl told BBC Sport: “It’s not for UK Sport to do that.”

Ukad’s investigation, which closed in November, was unable to determine whether the medical package that arrived at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011 contained a legal decongestant or, as alleged, Triamcinolone, which athletes are banned from using during competition.

In a letter revealed by BBC Sport in January, Ukad claimed its enquiry was “hindered” and may have even been “potentially compromised” by British Cycling’s failure to report doping allegations sooner.

Asked about trying to get compensation from the two parties involved in the investigation, Nicholl reiterated: “It’s not a matter for UK Sport.

“It’s rather complex because Team Sky doesn’t receive any public funding.

“Our relationship is with British Cycling and what we’ve seen from them is an absolute commitment to having a very strong action plan which is going to deliver over and above from any recommendations they’ve received.”

Nicholl added British Cycling was “heading in the right direction” with “new values and new culture” after appointing several new senior figures, including chief executive Julie Harrington and independent chairman Frank Slevin.

Bob Howden stepped down as chairman in February 2017 amid an investigation into claims of bullying at British Cycling, but remains the organisation’s president.

Nicholl said that British Cycling is “on track to do incredibly well” at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

What did the investigation find out?

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee report in March said Wiggins and Team Sky “crossed an ethical line” by using drugs to enhance performance instead of just for medical need.

But the committee said it was also “not in a position” to state what was in the ‘jiffy bag’ dispatched from the medical storeroom that Team Sky shared with British Cycling at their Manchester headquarters and received by former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman at La Toussuire.

The Ukad investigation discovered Dr Freeman kept Wiggins’ medical records on a laptop that was stolen on holiday in Greece in 2014 and that he made no back-up copies.

Following that investigation, Harrington said there had been a “blurring of the boundaries” between British Cycling and Team Sky after the latter’s launch in 2010 under Sir Dave Brailsford, who remained performance director at British Cycling until 2014.

She added that there are now “clear boundaries and distinctions” between the two organisations, with no one simultaneously employed by both.

Team Sky said it “strongly refutes” the DCMS select committee’s report’s claim that medication was used for performance enhancement but added it “takes full responsibility” for mistakes made in relation to medical record keeping, and have taken steps to improve this since.

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