Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong bought race win, Italian cyclist says

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An Italian cyclist said Lance Armstrong gave him $100,000 as part of an agreement to let Armstrong win a race 20 years ago.

“It was a young American colleague,” said Roberto Gaggioli, according to Agence France-Presse translating comments in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “He offered me a panettone [a traditional Italian Christmas cake] as a present and wished me a merry Christmas. In the box there were $100,000 in small bills. That colleague was Lance Armstrong.”

The payment was for the 1993 Thrift Drug Triple Crown. Armstrong, then a 21-year-old rookie, won all three races over 21 days and a $1 million prize, at the time the richest prize in the history of cycling, according to USA Today.

Gaggioli said the payment decided Armstrong would win the final leg of the triple crown, the CoreStates USPRO Cycling Championship in Philadelphia. Armstrong was riding for the Motorola Cycling Team at the time.

“Lance said that my team, Coors Light, had agreed to it,” Gaggioli said, according to the report. “I understood that it had all been decided.”

The Italian is not the first Coors Light team cyclist to say Armstrong’s triple crown win was pre-determined.

New Zealand’s Stephen Swart gave a sworn deposition in January 2006 that Armstrong and another Motorola teammate offered him $50,000 to help fix the triple crown series during the second of the three races, which lasted five days. This was according to ABC in Australia.

Swart later joined Armstrong’s Motorola team.

The Italian newspaper added that another cyclist said he was offered money to let Armstrong win.

Angelo Canzonieri and Lance agreed on a fee of 50, Angelo thought he meant dollars but Lance meant lire,” Roberto Pelliconi said. “At the Tour of Lombardy he gave us 50 million (lire).”

Armstrong won in Philadelphia by successfully attacking Canzonieri, Pelliconi and three others on a late climb.

“This is definitely the highlight of my career and probably my life,” Armstrong reportedly said after winning.

In 1993, Armstrong said he valued the honor won of being able to wear a stars-and-stripes jersey as the U.S. champion in European races over the $1 million.

“This is great for Lance Armstrong and Motorola, but it’s even bigger for the sport of cycling,” Armstrong told USA Today in 1993. “Football fans and couch potatoes will watch basket weaving if there’s a million bucks on the line.”

Armstrong says he was ‘singled out’

Simone Biles becomes honorary Houston Texans cheerleader

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The NFL’s Houston Texans may not be having the greatest season on the football field, but that hasn’t stopped one famous diehard fan from cheering them on.

On Sunday, Simone Biles took her fandom to the next level by debuting as an honorary Texans cheerleader before the team’s home game against the San Francisco 49ers.

game day feels ❤️ so excited to dance at the Houston Texans Game!

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officially ready for game day now that I got my legendary red boots 🏈

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As an added bonus, she also found time to take a few photos with NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon, a 7-foot center who once starred for the Houston Rockets.

This isn’t the first time that the Olympic gold medalist has teamed up with her hometown Texans. In 2016, Biles had the honor of announcing one of the team’s draft picks, and in 2015, she made this memorable entrance onto the field after a pre-game introduction.

Julia Marino, Jamie Anderson close in on Olympic snowboard team spots after second U.S. qualifier

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Julia Marino is within striking distance of qualifying for her first Olympic team. Sochi gold medalist Jamie Anderson is even closer.

Marino, who won four X Games medals in slopestyle and big air competitions last season, unleashed a frontside 720 and her signature cab double underflip to take second place in big air at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, the second of five qualifying events for the U.S. snowboard slopestyle and big air team.

Anderson, who received high marks for her cab 900 but lower scores for her frontside 720, finished off the podium in fourth. Because she and Marino were the only Americans to reach the final at Copper though, Anderson still received a valuable haul of Olympic selection points and maintains the lead in the overall rankings.

Although Marino’s cab double underflip received the highest score of the competition, riders in big air are scored on their two best tricks. That enabled Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi to take the win with a pair of solid jumps that included a backside 1080. Silje Norendal of Norway finished on the podium in third behind Iwabuchi and Marino.

In order to be named to the U.S. Olympic slopestyle and big air snowboarding team, riders must have a minimum of one podium finish at the selection events. If more than three riders attain podium finishes, then the tiebreaker will come down each rider’s two best results.

Marino and Anderson have both fulfilled the minimum criteria for automatic selection. Either of them could clinch spots on the Olympic team for both slopestyle and big air by finishing as the top U.S. rider at any of the remaining selection events. The next event will be a slopestyle contest next week in Breckenridge, Colo.

Meanwhile, the men’s big air competition had the potential to shake up the U.S. Olympic rankings, as none of the podium finishers from the first selection event reached the final at Copper.

After a disappointing result in that first qualifier, which was held at Mammoth Mountain last winter, Chris Corning bounced back to finish as the top American in this contest and second place overall. He landed a frontside 1440 and a massive backside triple cork 1440 on his two jumps, putting his own stylish twist on both tricks with melon grabs.

Corning, the 2015/16 World Cup champion in slopestyle, has emerged as perhaps the U.S. team’s top hope for an Olympic medal this year in both men’s slopestyle and big air, events typically dominated by riders from Canada and Norway. Now that he has his first selection event podium under his belt, he can clinch a spot on the Olympic team by finishing as the top American at any of the remaining contests.

Also earning a podium result with a third-place finish was 19-year-old Chandler Hunt, who has suddenly added his name to the U.S. Olympic discussion.

The victory in men’s big air went to Norway’s Mons Roisland, who stomped a switch backside 1620 and a frontside 1440 tail grab on his jumps.

Three more selection events for the slopestyle and big air team still remain, and all three will be slopestyle events. Dew Tour will host a selection event next week in Breckenridge, then there will be a break until Olympic qualifying resumes in January with competitions at Aspen and Mammoth.

U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Results

Men’s Snowboard Big Air
1. Mons Roisland (NOR), 182.75
2. Chris Corning (USA), 177.25
3. Chandler Hunt (USA), 159.00
4. Ryan Stassel (USA), 154.50
5. Max Parrot (CAN), 121.50

Women’s Snowboard Big Air
1. Reira Iwabuchi (JPN), 169.25
2. Julia Marino (USA), 160.25
3. Silje Norendal (NOR), 156.75
4. Jamie Anderson (USA), 151.50
5. Sina Candrian (SUI), 135.50

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle/Big Air
1. Red Gerard, 1400*
2. Chris Corning, 1200*
3. Chandler Hunt, 1160*
4. Kyle Mack, 1000*
5. Judd Henkes, 1000

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle/Big Air
1. Jamie Anderson, 1800*
2. Julia Marino, 1600*
3. Hailey Langland, 1300*
4. Jessika Jenson, 1050
5. Nora Healey, 950

*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result.