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BELGIUM

Italian veteran Paolini wins Gent-Wevelgem

Italian veteran Luca Paolini timed his attack to perfection to take victory at the one-day cobbled classic race Gent-Wevelgem in Belgium on Sunday.

Italian veteran Paolini wins Gent-Wevelgem
Italy's Luca Paolini of Team Katusha competes in the 77th edition of the Gent-Wevelgem one-day cycling race from Deinze to Wevelgem. Photo: Tim De Waele/Belga/AFP

Last year's Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra took second at the end of the 240km race in dreadful conditions with blustery winds and driving rain as Friday's E3 Harelbeke winner Geraint Thomas came third.

With winds of up to 90kph (56mph) the race became an interminable slog and a battle of wills but it was Paolini's opportunistic attack just under 6km from home to distance his five breakaway companions that proved decisive.

"It was an incredible race, one for the courageous," said Paolini, who crashed twice and had to change his bike during the day.

"Halfway through I was asking myself if it was reasonable to continue. But I resisted (the temptation to quit) and I've earned the best win of my career."

After winning in 6hr 20min 55sec, Paolini added: "This victory is one for heart, courage but also intelligence.

"I possibly wasn't the strongest at the finish. Niki Terpstra and Geraint Thomas still had strong legs, but they were worried about each other and I took my chance."

The 38-year-old Katusha rider had fought gamely to join the other five following the final climb of the race around 30km from the finish of the second of four cobbled classics.

Dutchman Terpstra, Briton Thomas and Belgians Stijn Vandenbergh, Sep Vanmarcke and Jens Debusschere were chasing down a sole leader at that time, Jurgen Roelandts.

Paolini managed to bridge the gap but compatriot Daniel Oss failed to do so as a six-man chase group formed.

Debusschere sat at the back as Belgian Roelandts rides for the same Lotto Soudal team.

However, he was caught 17km from the end, after which Terpstra and Paolini struck out for home.

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TRAINS

Finmeccanica settles row over faulty Belgian trains

Italian industrial giant Finmeccanica said on Monday it was paying €2.5 million ($3.5 million) to Belgium's national railway to avoid being sued over a now-cancelled order of faulty high-speed trains.

Finmeccanica settles row over faulty Belgian trains
The Ansaldobreda mechanical manufacturing plant in Naples. Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP

"The Belgian Railways (NMBS/SNCB), AnsaldoBreda and its controlling company Finmeccanica have settled their discord," Finmeccanica said in a statement.

"The settlement was reached from the advantages both parties see in preventing lengthy legal proceedings."

The Belgian railway company had claimed €27 million from AnsaldoBreda after being forced to cancel its order for 19 high-speed trains — known as the V250 — designed to connect Brussels and Amsterdam.

The link was launched to much fanfare in 2013 but had to be aborted just five months later after serious technical faults in the trains emerged.

Dutch and Belgian railways had ordered a total of 19 trains from AnsaldoBreda for €20 million.

"The agreement will allow AnsaldoBreda to exploit the possibility of selling trains to other customers and with some customizations make them fit for other requirements and needs of such customers.

"As part of the agreement both parties will refrain from making financial claims, including supposed damages on both sides," Finmeccanica said.

Finmeccanica earlier settled with the Dutch railway.

READ MORE: Dutch agree to return Italian high-speed trains

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