AP

Tour de France rider expelled for punching cyclist

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CARCASSONNE, FRANCE (AP) — Team Sky rider Gianni Moscon was expelled from the Tour de France on Sunday after he appeared to deliberately hit a fellow cyclist during the race.

The Italian lashed out at French rider Elie Gesbert of Team Fortuneo while both were competing during Stage 15 from Millau to Carcassonne.

“I’m sorry for today’s incident, and I totally regret my actions,” Moscon said. “I would like to personally apologize to Elie Gesbert…. What happened was wrong and was a bad example coming from me to everyone, and I want to publicly apologize. … I make no excuse for it and accept the decision of the race organizers.”

Team Sky director Dave Brailsford said the team would consider taking further action against Moscon after the Tour concludes next weekend.

The 24-year-old Moscon was suspended by Sky for six weeks last year for using a racial slur against an opponent.

His expulsion leaves Sky with seven riders.

Sky’s Geraint Thomas is leading the race ahead of teammate Chris Froome after 15 of 21 stages.

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Magnus Cort Nielsen wins Tour de France stage ahead of Pyrenees

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CARCASSONNE, France (AP) — Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark sprinted away from two other challengers to win Stage 15 of the Tour de France on Sunday, while Geraint Thomas had no trouble holding the overall lead for a fourth consecutive day

The Astana rider claimed his first career win at the Tour after staying ahead of Ion Izagirre and Bauke Mollema in a sprint over the final 200 meters. Cort Nielsen finished the hilly 181.5-kilometer (112.7-mile) leg from Millau that ended in a long descent to Carcassonne in 4 hours, 25 minutes.

“I always kept a little back so I was able to respond if they attack,” said the 25-year-old Cort Nielsen, who won two stages of the Spanish Vuelta in 2016.

Thomas in the yellow jersey, second-placed Chris Froome, and the rest of the overall contenders arrived at Carcassonne and its medieval city walls 13 minutes after the stage winner.

Thomas kept his advantage of 1 minute, 39 seconds over teammate and defending champion Froome before the race’s second rest day on Monday.

“We were always in control,” Thomas said. “We were always in the right place, and it’s a good day to get done.”

That pause precedes three mountain stages in the Pyrenees, followed by the individual time trial on the penultimate day of the race.

“There are three big, big days left, and then the time trial, so (I) just take each day as it comes and we will see what happens,” Thomas said.

It was a placid ride for Thomas before the decisive final week.

The only serious attack by a top-10 rider in the overall standings came from Dan Martin, the UAE Emirates leader, who tried a getaway while going up the Pic de Nore but was reeled in on the way down.

A breakaway group of 29 riders— none of which posed no threat to Thomas’ overall lead— got away early.

Cort Nielsen, Izagirre and Mollema dropped the five other remaining escapees before disputing the stage win among themselves. With all three riders sizing one another up, Cort Nielsen stayed in front when they finally broke into a sprint.

The racing returns on Tuesday with Stage 16, a 218-kilometer mountain trek from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

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Former ski jumper closer to Tour de France podium

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Slovenian Primoz Roglic, a former ski jumper, finished ahead of Tour de France leader Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome in Saturday’s Stage 14, moving eight seconds closer to a possible podium in Paris in eight days.

Nearly 20 minutes after Spain’s Omar Fraile won the stage, Roglic finished eight seconds ahead of Thomas, Froome and Tom Dumoulin, the top three in the Tour standings.

Roglic went from 2:46 behind Thomas to 2:38 behind and moved to 48 seconds behind Dumoulin for third. The 28-year-old Roglic won a junior world title in ski jumping in the team event in 2007 before switching to cycling.

Roglic won a stage in his Tour debut in 2017 and finished 38th overall, then took time trial silver at the world championships.

This season, Roglic won the Tour de Romandie and the Tour of the Basque Country. Now, he’s eyeing Slovenia’s best overall finish in Tour history. Right now, that distinction is shared by Tadej Valjavec and Jani Brajkovic, who were ninth in 2008 and 2012.

The Tour continues Sunday with stage 15, featuring a category-one climb but a descent to the finish, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here).

While the Welshman Thomas is attempting to win the Tour for the first time, the Kenyan-born Froome is aiming for a record-tying fifth victory in cycling’s biggest race.

Stage 15 from Millau to Carcassonne is another hilly leg before the race’s second rest day on Monday. Then come the Pyrenees and a possibly decisive individual time trial in the penultimate stage before the traditional finish in Paris next weekend.

“We have a plan for the first mountain stage,” Thomas said. “If we go against each other and Dumoulin wins then we would look really stupid. It is the first time I have raced for three weeks as a GC (general classification) leader, so it is an unknown for me.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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