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Hincapie holds firm on doping

CYCLING: George Hincapie has distanced himself from reports linking him and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong with the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

CBS programme 60 Minutes is claiming Hincapie has told a federal investigation both he and former US Postal team-mate Armstrong used banned substances. The accusations come 24 hours after another ex-US Postal rider Tyler Hamilton admitted to drug use and said he had seen Armstrong take EPO more than once.

Hincapie, one of Armstrong's most loyal team-mates, refused to respond to 60 Minutes. Instead, Hincapie said: "It's just unfortunate that that's all people want to talk about now. I'm not going to partake in any cycling-bashing. I have done everything to be the best I can be. I want the focus on the future of the sport, what it's done to clean itself up. I believe in cycling and want to support it."

Hamilton, a team-mate between 1998 and 2001, admitted he had taken EPO "many, many times" and said he saw Armstrong take the drug.

"I saw [EPO] in his refrigerator," the 40-year-old from Massachusetts said. "I saw him inject it more than one time like we all did. Like I did, many, many times." Hamilton went further, alleging the use of performance-enhancing drugs had been widespread in the sport.

"[Armstrong] took what we all took, the majority of the peloton," he added. "There was EPO, testosterone, a blood transfusion."

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Igor Anton raced ahead of leader and fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador to claim victory on the summit finish of stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia yesterday.

Contador trailed by around 33 seconds while Italy's Vincenzo Nibali finished third. Contador retained the overall lead for a sixth successive stage. Donegal's Philip Deignan finished 82nd on the stage, and lies in 73rd place overall.

Meanwhile, the 59th edition of the Ras Tailteann, which begins today in Dunboyne, has a new race sponsor in An Post.

The event finishes up in Skerries after eight stages and the final leg from Kildare is next Sunday. Alongside the main race, 50 former GAA players will ride the route before the official start of each stage to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society and Goal.

Donations can be made at www.racetheras.com/donate or at any Ulster Bank branch.

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ATHLETICS: Waterford teenager Kate Veale won the bronze medal in the junior women's 10km event at the European Cup of Walking in the Algarve yesterday.

The 17-year-old finished third in a field of top-class opponents. Veale's time of 46:32 was just nine seconds outside the Irish record she set finishing fourth in the Youth Olympics in Singapore last year.

"It's fabulous to be here competing against the best in the world and even sweeter to win a medal. It was very warm but the venue was great and so was the circuit," she said.

Emma Prendeville was 21st in the event, while Evan Lynch was 24th in the junior men's 10km in 47:08. Colin Griffin was on the heels of the leaders and poised for a lifetime best in the gruelling 50km event but faded out of contention.

Elsewhere, Siofra Cleirigh Buttner of Colaiste Iosagain ran the fastest 800m time this season by any Irish woman, when winning the intermediate girls' event at the Aviva Leinster Schools Track and Field Championships in Santry yesterday.

Her time of two minutes 8.7 seconds knocked four seconds off the 28-year-old record. She also added the 1500m title, winning in five mins 2.48 seconds. Marcus Lawlor of CBS Carlow was one of the double winners on the day, taking both the 100m and 200m. Over the longer distances, Jake Byrne of St Joseph's Rochfortbridge won the senior boys' 5,000m.

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FORMULA ONE: Mark Webber edged leader Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix yesterday as Red Bull's one-two swept it to a fifth straight pole position of the season.

Webber retired to the garage with 90 seconds to run in the final qualifying session, confident of pole after going around the Catalunya Circuit in one min, 20.981 seconds to edge Vettel by two-tenths.

Vettel had topped qualifying in the season's first four races, winning three of those.

There was no doubting Red Bull's pace after dominating all three practice sessions, with Webber enjoying nearly a one-second advantage over Lewis Hamilton of McLaren. Hamilton held off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso by 0.003 seconds in qualifying to start third.

Red Bull has now started from pole position in 20 of the last 24 races as Webber snapped Vettel's five-race run from pole.

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GOLF: Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey shot a five-under-par 67 to move into a share of the lead after the third round of the Madeira Islands Open.

Hoey looked set to hold a one-shot lead of his own after six birdies through his first 14 holes, but a bogey on the 16th saw him end his round on nine under for the tournament. That left him level with England's Jamie Elson. But it was a miserable day for second-round leader Simon Thornton. The Irishman led at seven under heading into yesterday and birdied the third -- but four bogeys and a double bogey at the 10th saw him five over on the day, two under overall.

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Paul Cutler will be bidding to follow in the footsteps of current world No 6 Rory McIlroy when he takes a one-stroke lead into the final two rounds of the Irish Amateur Close Championship at Shannon today.

The 22-year-old carded a one-over-par 73 on another blustery day to top the leaderboard on two-under and keep alive his hopes of completing a rare West of Ireland/Irish Close double last achieved by McIlroy in 2006.

The Ulsterman has the slimmest of leads over 30-year-old Darren Crowe from Dunmurry, who hit a two-over 74. With 36 holes to go today, East of Ireland champion Eoin Arthurs is just two shots off the pace in joint-third with Munster stroke-play champion Niall Gorey, while 17 players are within six shots of Cutler's lead.

Sunday Indo Sport