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Mezgec makes it a hat-trick


Published 29/03/2014 | 02:30

Luka Mezgec earned his third stage win of this year's Tour of Catalonia, edging out the pack in the final sprint in Valls.

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Joaquim Rodriguez maintained the overall lead, with the 218km (135 miles) ride from Llanars Vall de Camprodon producing no changes at the top of the general classification.

Slovenia's Mezgec, riding for Giant-Shimano, finished the stage in five hours, 16 minutes at the front of a large pack. He also won the two opening stages of the seven-day race with sprint finishes.

Rodriguez kept his four-second lead over Alberto Contador. Tour de France winner Chris Froome of Team Sky was seventh and remained sixth overall, 17 seconds off the pacesetter.

Ireland's Dan Martin is 19th, 1 min 47 secs behind Rodriguez.

Elsewhere, Peter Sagan won his first big Classic of the season, dominating a four-way sprint to win the E3 Harelbeke in Belgium.

In a chaotic race marred by several crashes, Cannondale's Sagan broke away 25km from the finish and only Omega Pharma Quick-Step team-mates Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh and Sky's Geraint Thomas followed him.

All Sagan's challengers tried to break away, knowing the Slovak was by far the fastest in the sprint, but he clawed them back each time and easily won the sprint from Terpstra and Thomas.

THE Republic of Ireland U-17 side suffered a 3-0 loss to Germany in the UEFA Championships Elite qualifying round in Serbia.

Tom Mohan's side went into the tie looking to record a victory to keep their qualification hopes alive after Wednesday's defeat to the hosts but suffered an early blow when Max Besuschkow scored in the first minute.

Arianit Ferati extended the German lead after nine minutes and Phillipp Ochs grabbed their third after the break. Ireland meet Georgia in their final fixture in Belgrade on Monday.

World No 1 Rafael Nadal will face world No 2 Novak Djokovic in the final of the Sony Open in Miami tomorrow after both players progressed through their semi-finals without playing a shot yesterday.

Djokovic progressed after his semi-final opponent Kei Nishikori withdrew due to a groin injury before Nadal's place the showpiece was confirmed later in the day when his opponent Tomas Berdych pulled out due to gastroenteritis.

Nishikori said: "Very sorry to say that I have to pull out. Very disappointed."

Irish Independent

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