TRIESTE, Italy – Lance Armstrong gained time on his rivals again at the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, yet the seven-time Tour de France winner still maintains he has no designs on winning the three-week race.
“I still don’t think I’m a contender for the overall, but I feel better than I thought I would feel,” Armstrong said.
Alessandro Petacchi edged Mark Cavendish to win the second stage in a mass sprint and Cavendish retained the overall leader’s pink jersey.
Armstrong finished in the main pack with the same time as Petacchi, while overall race favorite Ivan Basso and Armstrong’s Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer each finished 13 seconds behind, dropping back when the group was split by a crash with just over 3 miles remaining.
“That’s the risk of the early stages in a big tour in a finale. I was lucky to be there with (Jose Luis Rubiera), and he kept me out of trouble,” Armstrong said.
Astana finished third in the team time trial that opened the Giro on Saturday, with Basso’s and the other Italian favorites’ teams trailing.
Armstrong returned this season after 3 1/2 years of retirement and broke his collarbone in March. Before the Giro began, Armstrong said he would support Leipheimer in his bid to win the race.
But Leipheimer blew his front tire on a high-speed downhill section before the crash. A better indication of Armstrong and Leipheimer’s aspirations will come during the first serious mountain climbs in the Dolomite range, beginning Tuesday.
Gasquet tests positive
PARIS – French tennis player Richard Gasquet has acknowledged he’s been told he tested positive for cocaine but says he’s innocent.
“I am gathering together proof of my innocence and I will choose an appropriate moment to express myself,” Gasquet said in a statement Sunday.
Gasquet said the “B” sample from the tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla., confirmed the result of the “A” sample taken the same day.
The Web site of sports daily L’Equipe reported Saturday that traces of the banned drug were found in the 22-year-old Gasquet’s urine sample at the Sony Ericsson Open, where he pulled out after the first round.
Djokovic wins title
BELGRADE, Serbia – Top-seeded Novak Djokovic beat unheralded Lukasz Kubot of Poland 6-3, 7-6 (0) in the Serbia Open final Sunday to win the first ATP Tour tournament held in his home country.
Djokovic played in his fourth straight final after being runner-up in Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome. It was his 13th career title.
“Although this is not one of the biggest tournament I had won, it means the most to me,” Djokovic told some 7,000 spectators that packed a makeshift tennis stadium on the banks of the Danube River.