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Chris Froome loses Tour de France lead (video)

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Chris Froome lost the Tour de France yellow jersey to Italian Fabio Aru by uncharacteristically fading in the final kilometer of Stage 12 in the Pyrenees on Thursday.

France’s Romain Bardet, third in the overall standings, won the stage.

Rigoberto Uran and Aru were second and third, both two seconds behind. Froome, who entered the day with an 18-second lead on Aru, was 22 seconds back of Bardet in seventh place.

Aru now leads Froome by six seconds with nine stages left, culminating with the ceremonial ride into Paris on July 23.

“I just didn’t have the legs on the final [kilometer],” Froome said. “The race is certainly on now.”

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

But now Froome has relinquished the yellow jersey for the first time to a general classification contender in his six Tours.

The 27-year-old Aru, in his second Tour, will wear it for the first time in Friday’s Stage 13, adding to his collection of race leader jerseys from the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

Aru won the 2015 Vuelta, has finished second and third at the Giro and was 13th in his only previous Tour in 2016.

“It’s one of the most beautiful things that can happen to you in life, wearing the yellow jersey,” Aru said, according to The Associated Press. “Clearly, it won’t be easy to defend it.”

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Tour de France Overall Standings
1. Fabio Aru (ITA)
2. Chris Froome (GBR) — +:06
3. Romain Bardet (FRA) — +:25
4. Rigoberto Uran (COL) — +:55
5. Dan Martin (IRL) — +1:41

Friday’s stage is the shortest mountain day in Tour history, half the length of Thursday’s trek into the Pyrenees.

Riders face three category-one climbs on the 63-mile day, with a 16-mile descent to the finish on Bastille Day, when French riders are always motivated to go for stage wins.

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

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

Michael Phelps still has ‘no desire’ to come back

AP
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Michael Phelps says he has “no desire” to return to competitive swimming, but he is eager to stay involved with the sport and cheer on those who follow in his enormous wake.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press while promoting a healthy pet food campaign, Phelps said he is excited about the birth of his second child and numerous opportunities away from the pool.

It was around this time four years ago when Phelps got serious about ending his first retirement, but he now seems content with his decision to step away again after the Rio Olympics.

His wife, Nicole, is about four months pregnant. The couple already has a 16-month-old son, Boomer.

“I’ve got no desire, no desire to come back,” the 32-year-old Phelps said flatly.

Phelps has attended a handful of swimming meets since the Rio Games, where the winningest athlete in Olympic history added to his already massive career haul by claiming five gold medals plus a silver. A few months ago, he conceded to the AP that he was eager to see how he would feel about a possible comeback after this year’s world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Turns out, it had no impact.

Phelps said watching others compete “truly didn’t kick anything off or spike any more interest in coming out of retirement again.”

He is eager to follow the development of his heir apparent, Caeleb Dressel, who emerged as the sport’s newest star by winning seven gold medals at Budapest. The 21-year-old Floridian joined Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to accomplish that feat at a major international meet.

“I’m happy Caeleb decided to go off this year instead of last year,” Phelps joked. “I’m kind of happy to see him swimming so well when I’m not there.”

With Dressel and Katie Ledecky now leading the American team, the U.S. is expected to remain the world’s dominant swimming country heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Even without Phelps.

“It’s time to kind of move on,” he said, “and watch other people come into their own.”

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MORE: Michael Phelps: I’d give Conor McGregor a head start

Dutch cyclist returns from horrific Rio crash to win world title

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Dutch road cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten came back from this dramatic Rio Olympic crash to win her first world title on Tuesday, taking the time trial in Bergen, Norway.

“This one is really beautiful without the crash in Rio, but this makes the story really, really special,” an emotional van Vleuten said. “Actually, I still cannot believe it. … This season I’m surprising myself what I can do. To be world champion in the time trial, I never thought I’d be able of this.”

Van Vleuten, 34, covered the 13-mile course in 28 minutes, 50.35 seconds, topping countrywoman Anna ven der Breggen by 12 seconds.

Australian Katrin Garfoot took bronze, 19.02 seconds ahead of Chloe Dygert, a U.S. Olympic silver medalist in track cycling. American Amber Neben, the defending champion, was 11th.

Full results are here.

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title.

Van Vleuten wasn’t out long. She raced at last October’s world championships, placing a career-high fifth in the time trial. She then won La Course in France, a two-day race, in July.

“To be an athlete is to have really ups and downs,” van Vleuten said Tuesday. “Sometimes really downs, but the downs make the ups even more beautiful, I think.”

Van Vleuten’s first celebratory act Tuesday was to climb past two barriers and into her mother’s arms.

“Last year my mum watched the Rio race on television, it was her birthday and she was with lots of my family, so it was a really hard day for her,” Van Vleuten said in a news conference, according to Cyclingnews.com. “My father died in 2008, and so it was really special to have her here and celebrate the good things of cycling together. We’ve dealt with bad things together in the past, so it’s important to be really happy and proud to celebrate and to also remember my father.”

The world championships continue Wednesday with the men’s time trial at 7 a.m. ET on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live.

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MORE: World Road Cycling Championships broadcast schedule

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