French breakaway rider takes Tour de France stage

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STATION DES ROUSSES, France (AP) — Speeding away on a small mountain road more suited to goats than riders, Lilian Calmejane won Stage 8 to the Rousses ski station in the Jura Massif on Saturday, for his first victory in his first Tour de France.

Calmejane, riding for French team Direct Energie, fought cramp after breaking away on the final climb and hung on, tongue lolling, for victory in only the second visit by the Tour to the Rousses. It was the second win at this Tour for a French rider, after Arnaud Demare’s on Stage 4.

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Tour leader Chris Froome finished in a group further back, retaining the yellow jersey ahead of a second, far harder day of climbing, again in the Jura mountains, on Sunday.

Froome’s day wasn’t without incident: On a downhill, right-hand bend after the second of three notable climbs on the stage from Dole, the three-time Tour champion went straight into the roadside grass instead of cornering, but managed to stay on his bike and quickly recover.

Calmejane held off Dutch rider Robert Gesink, hot on his heels, on the final climb and rolling finish. Cramping from his effort, Calmejane had to slow and rise off his saddle to stretch his legs in the final section and then gritted his teeth to the line.

Gesink, of the Netherlands’ Lotto-Jumbo team, rode in 37 seconds after Calmejane. French rider Guillaume Martin placed third on the stage, another 13 seconds back.

“Winning alone like that is incredible,” said Calmejane, who also won a stage at his first Grand Tour, the Spanish Vuelta, last year. “It’s everything I dreamed of.”

Sunday’s Stage 9 stays in the mountains with nearly 5,000 meters of climbing, including three beyond-category climbs, the toughest on the Tour. The general classification is sure to be shaken.

NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 5:40 a.m. ET. NBCSN coverage starts at 6:30 a.m.

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

Chris Froome can clinch Tour de France title No. 4 in time trial

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Chris Froome moved one step closer to his fourth Tour de France title by finishing in the same time as his rivals in the 19th of 21 stages on Friday.

Now, Froome focuses on a 14-mile time trial in Marseille on Saturday, where he is heavily favored to defend his 23-second lead over Frenchman Romain Bardet and 29-second advantage on Colombian Rigoberto Uran.

Sunday’s finale — the ride into Paris — is traditionally not a day for attacking the yellow jersey.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 7:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.

On Friday, Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen won his first Tour stage in six years on the three-week event’s longest day (138 miles). Boasson Hagen pulled away from an eight-rider group in the last two miles and crossed five seconds ahead of German Nikias Arndt.

Froome, Bardet and Uran were in the large group finishing about 10 minutes later.

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Froome, 32, is trying to move within one Tour title of the career record of five shared by Jacques AnquetilEddy MerckxBernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

Froome has been the anchor of cycling’s most powerful team — Team Sky — for five seasons now. Every time the rail-thin Brit has reached the Champs-Élysées in that time, he has been wearing the yellow jersey. The only miss was when he abandoned on Stage 5 in 2014 after crashing three times in two days.

Bardet, 26, was runner-up to Froome in last year’s Tour by 4:05. No Frenchman has won the Tour since Hinault in 1985 — the host nation’s longest victory drought.

Uran, 30 and the 2012 Olympic road race silver medalist, is trying to become the first South American to win the Tour.

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

WATCH LIVE: Usain Bolt in final race before world championships

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Usain Bolt races for the last time before his farewell world championships, live during NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold‘s coverage of a Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday starting at 2 p.m. ET.

Bolt will put his four-year winning streak on the line in a 100m race against his toughest field since the Rio Olympics.

The race start is set for 3:35 p.m. A meet preview is here.

The Jamaican will retire after racing the 100m and 4x100m worlds in London in August, with Monaco being his only other meet left this season.

WATCH LIVE: Usain Bolt races in Monaco — 2 p.m. ET

There are doubts about Bolt’s form with worlds in two weeks. He failed to break 10 seconds in his first two races this season in June before seeing his German doctor to work on his chronically balky back.

Fortunately for Bolt, nobody else is performing that well this season, either. None of his top rivals in recent years — Yohan BlakeAndre De Grasse and Justin Gatlin — have broken 9.90 seconds this season.

The Monaco field includes two of the five fastest men in the world this year — South African Akani Simbine and American Chris Belcher — and four men overall who have broken 10 seconds in 2017.

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MORE: Bolt says women are outperforming men in sprints