Peter Sagan wins Tour de France Stage 3 despite pedal problem (video)

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Peter Sagan came unclipped as he accelerated toward the uphill Tour de France Stage 3 finish. That only compounded the pressure on the pre-stage favorite.

Did it affect the showman Slovakian?

“What is pressure?” Sagan said afterward with a laugh. “I don’t know.”

Sagan, winner of the sprinters’ green jersey at the last five Tours, notched his first stage victory of this year’s Tour de France on Monday.

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider emerged from a bunched uphill sprint after a 132-mile stage that began in Belgium, crossed through Luxembourg and into northeastern France.

Sagan took the lead in the final half-mile and held on despite briefly coming off one of his pedals.

Australian Michael Matthews was second in the same time, followed by Ireland’s Dan Martin.

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Sagan, now with eight career Tour stage victories at age 27, could very well win several stages in this year’s Tour. But his focus is likely on matching German Erik Zabel‘s record of six sprinters’ titles.

He moved from 15th to third place in the green jersey standings with a 50-point prize for the stage win. Sagan is 16 points behind German Marcel Kittel, the Stage 2 winner and runner-up to Sagan in the 2016 sprinter standings.

Also Monday, Great Britain’s Geraint Thomas retained the yellow jersey as the race leader.

Thomas’ Team Sky mate Chris Froome is still the highest-placed rider eyeing the overall title in three weeks in Paris. Froome, trying to win the Tour for the fourth time in five years, moved from sixth place to second overall, remaining 12 seconds behind Thomas.

American Taylor Phinney gave up the polka-dot jersey for King of the Mountains to countryman and Cannondale–Drapac teammate Nate Brown.

Tuesday’s Stage 4 is a flat, 129-mile trek south from Luxembourg into France. An expected bunch sprint finish should include Germans and Andre Greipel and Kittel as well as Brit Mark Cavendish seeking his 31st career Tour stage win.

NBC Sports Gold‘s live coverage starts at 6:10 a.m. ET. NBCSN coverage starts at 7:30.

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

Stage 3
1. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 5:07:19
2. Michael Matthews (AUS) — +:00
3. Dan Martin (IRL) — +:00
4. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) — :00
5. Alberto Bettiol (ITA) — +:02

General Classification
1. Geraint Thomas (GBR) — 10:00:31
2. Chris Froome (GBR) — +:12
3. Michael Matthews (AUS) — +:12
4. Peter Sagan (SVK) — +13
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) — +16

Peter Sagan

Atlanta hosts 2020 Olympic marathon trials; full history of trials cities

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Atlanta will host the U.S. Olympic marathon trials for the first time on Feb. 29, 2020, joining a long list of cities to stage the event.

The top three male and female finishers will make the Tokyo team. The early favorites include Rio bronze medalist Galen Rupp, Boston Marathon winner Des Linden and world championships bronze medalist Amy Cragg. New York City Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan cast doubt on whether she would go for a fifth Olympics in 2020.

The U.S. Olympic marathon team wasn’t chosen by race results until 1908.

Arthur Blake was the first U.S. Olympic marathoner at the first modern Games in Athens in 1896. How was he chosen for the team? From Bill Mallon of the OlyMADMen and USA Track and Field in 2004:

“At an indoor meet in February in Boston, Art Blake won his [1,000-yard] distance race easily and joked, ‘Oh, I am too good for Boston. I ought to go over and run the marathon in Athens.’ The remark was overheard by Arthur Burnham, a wealthy stockbroker who agreed to partly finance the trip for a group of Boston Athletic Association athletes.”

Blake dropped out of the 1896 Olympic marathon after 14 miles. Greek Spyridon Louis famously won.

Various men competed for the U.S. in the Olympic marathon in 1900, 1904 and 1906 before marathons began being used as qualifiers. The trials host list from Mallon and USATF:

1908: Boston, St. Louis
1912: Boston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York (modified to about 12 miles)
1920: Boston, Brooklyn, Detroit, New York
1924: Boston
1928: Boston, Chesapeake Bay, New York to Long Beach AAU Championship race
1932: Boston, Baltimore
1936: Boston, AAU Championship in Washington
1940: Boston, Yonkers (N.Y.)
1948: Boston, Yonkers
1952: Boston, Yonkers
1956: Boston, Yonkers
1960: Boston, Yonkers
1964: Culver City (Calif.), Yonkers
1968: Alamosa (Colo.)
1972: Eugene (Ore.)
1976: Eugene
1980: Niagara Falls (N.Y.)
1984: Buffalo (N.Y.), Olympia (Wash.)
1988: Jersey City (N.J.), Pittsburgh
1992: Columbus (Ohio), Houston
1996: Charlotte, Columbia (S.C.)
2000: Pittsburgh, Columbia
2004: Birmingham, St. Louis
2008: New York, Boston
2012: Houston
2016: Los Angeles
2020: Atlanta

The Olympic women’s marathon debuted in 1984. Separate host cities were used for men’s and women’s trials from 1984 through 2008.

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MORE: Shalane Flanagan looks to future after last Boston Marathon

Kayla Harrison sets MMA debut fight after post-Olympic depression

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Double Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison will make her MMA debut on June 21 at a Professional Fighters League (PFL) event in Chicago.

The fight, against an opponent Harrison chose not to publicly reveal Monday, will be 20 months since Harrison first announced she joined the promotion and would maybe fight.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time to fight,” Harrison, 27, said on the MMA Hour on Monday. “First, it was more me. I just wanted to get my feet wet, get in there, see if I liked getting punched in the face. Now that I’ve established that I do, we’ve sort of been waiting for the PFL to get their stuff together. So, their stuff is together.”

Harrison said her first two planned opponents for the 145-pound fight (27 pounds fewer than her Olympic weight) pulled out for reasons unknown to her.

“I don’t care who I fight,” said Harrison, the only U.S. Olympic judo champion, who hopes to fight three times this year. “It’s tough because I’m 0-0 in MMA. So it’s not like I’m going to fight someone who’s 10-0. But I think it’s difficult when you have two Olympic gold medals behind your name. Like people are kind of like, are you really an amateur?”

Harrison also said Monday that she was “very depressed” after the Rio Olympics, knowing she was done with judo, not setting a morning alarm or working out and “laying in bed all day” watching TV.

“I was a little bit lost in my life,” she said. “That high is so high that when you come off of that, it’s like your low. You don’t know what to do with yourself.”

Her coaches, Jimmy Pedro and Jim Pedro Sr., were against Harrison filling that void with MMA.

“Even if I was a millionaire or independently wealthy and I had no worries and I didn’t have to work, I would still be doing what I’m doing,” Harrison said. “I think at the beginning I was kind of like skittish about it. It’s tough, too, because everyone is always like, well look at Ronda [Rousey], you always have the comparisons. It’s so different from the judo world, but I’m kind of loving it. I’m kind of starting to become my own person in MMA, if that makes sense. In judo, I always had certain expectations. Everyone is sort of like, this is Kayla. This is the golden girl. This is the poster child, and so I always felt like that’s who I had to be. But in MMA, no one really knows me. Nobody cares about judo.”

In October 2016, Harrison announced she joined MMA promotion World Series of Fighting (now PFL) as a commentator, brand ambassador and potentially a fighter. But she wasn’t 100 percent committed to competing at the time.

“All signs point to a yes, but everything has to work out,” Harrison said then.

Then in June 2017, Harrison said she would fight starting in 2018. The debut was pushed from February to June.

Harrison had been asked time and again for years about her interest in pursuing MMA. That’s in part because of former training partner Rousey’s overwhelming success after she switched from Olympic judo to MMA.

Harrison took boxing and jiu-jitsu lessons as far back as 2013, which should boost her MMA potential. Since Rio, she’s trained in New Jersey, Las Vegas and now Florida.

Harrison previously said that to compete in MMA she will require a weight cut from her Olympic judo class of 172 pounds.

Rousey competed at 135 pounds, the heaviest women’s weight class in UFC at the time. UFC added a 145-pound division last year. Harrison said in 2016 that if she fought, it would probably be at 145 pounds.

PFL, which had no women’s weight class when Harrison signed up, planned to develop a women’s program as Harrison readied for a potential debut. Harrison said Sunday that PFL’s plan is to have a full women’s division in 2019.

“I want to be the best, undisputed,” Harrison said. “I want everyone to say, oh, who’s the best MMA fighter in the world? Oh, that’s Kayla Harrison.”

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