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Mezgec wins 2nd straight Catalunya stage to lead

GIRONA, Spain (AP) — Slovenian cyclist Luka Mezgec followed up an opening day victory by winning the second leg of the Volta a Catalunya on Tuesday to keep the overall lead.

The Giant-Shimano cyclist beat Italian pair Roberto Ferrari and Daniele Ratto in a sprint finish to win in a time of 3 hours, 57 minutes, 49 seconds. Mezgec leads Ferrari by 14 seconds overall with a time of 8:06:42 as cyclists endured rain and cold weather during a 168-kilometer (104-mile) run.

With the seven-stage race heading toward the Pyrenees mountains next, Mezgec is not expected to hang on to the lead in a field that includes Tour de France champion Christopher Froome and Alberto Contador. They both finished three seconds back on Tuesday to trail Mezgec by 23 seconds after two stages.

Froome was cautious about his chances as he settles back into competing after pulling out of the preceding Tirreno-Adriatico with back injury. "If I see I'm progressing well and I don't feel hurt then I think I can achieve something here," Froome said. "I have to take into account I lost two training days and the injury kept me from training as strongly as I wanted for another five days."

Wednesday's leg is a 163-kilometer run from Banyoles to La Molina, featuring two long mountain climbs — one of them at the end of the stage.

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