Chris Froome completes Tour de France-Vuelta double, Alberto Contador retires

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MADRID (AP) — Chris Froome paraded into Madrid to clinch his first Spanish Vuelta title and secure the elusive Tour de France-Vuelta double on Sunday, while Spanish great Alberto Contador celebrated the end of his remarkable career in front of his home crowd.

Froome had virtually secured victory with a solid performance in the difficult climb up the Alto de l’Angliru on Saturday, which marked the last competitive stage of the three-week race.

“It’s just incredible,” Froome said. “I’m still coming to terms with everything. It’s been such an incredible journey.”

Riders cruised to the finish in Sunday’s 21st stage, with the leaders not challenging each other, as per cycling tradition.

Italian Matteo Trentin won the final sprint to clinch his fourth stage victory in this year’s Vuelta.

Froome, who earlier this year clinched his fourth Tour de France title, had finished runner-up in La Vuelta three times, including last year.

The Team Sky rider became the third man to complete the Tour-Vuelta double in the same season, after Jacques Anquetil in 1963 and Bernard Hinault in 1978, when the Vuelta was still held in the spring before the Tour.

“Just the fact that nobody’s ever won the Tour and then La Vuelta afterwards, it’s incredible to be able to do it,” said Froome, the first British rider to win the Vuelta. “It’s just been an amazing few months and I want to thank everyone who has contributed to that. I’ve been fighting for this victory for six years and three years I’ve been standing on the second step so it’s amazing to stand on the first step this time.”

Froome won two Vuelta stages this year, finishing 2 minutes, 15 seconds in front of Italian Vincenzo Nibali of Team Bahrain-Merida, who won the Vuelta in 2010 and was runner-up in 2013.

Russian Ilnur Zakarin of Team Katusha Alpecin, secured the final podium spot, almost three minutes behind Froome.

Froome also won the points competition, while Astana Pro Team won the overall team event.

Contador, the three-time Vuelta winner, ended his career on a high note by winning Saturday’s difficult 20th stage. He was loudly cheered by Spanish fans as he arrived to cross the finish line one last time.

The rest of the riders allowed him to break from the peloton and ride a few moments by himself as the fans applauded. After the race, Contador took a Spanish flag and went for one final parade lap.

“It was very special to get to lead all the riders into Madrid,” Contador said. “It was an incredible finish. I dreamed about ending my career this way.”

The 34-year-old Contador had been out of contention for the Vuelta title after losing several minutes in a poor performance in the second stage. He made up time later in the race, but not enough to make it to the podium and eventually finished fifth, more than three minutes off the lead.

Considered one of Spain’s greatest riders, Contador also won the Tour de France twice and the Giro d’Italia twice. He was stripped of a third Tour victory for doping.

“It’s a dream. I can’t imagine a better goodbye than this,” he said. “Now is the moment to stop. When I started as a professional, I said I wanted to finish at the top level. And I think that now is the perfect moment for this. In the last 15 years, I did everything with my heart.”

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Men’s Curling Night 5: Japan routs USA

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On a night like Saturday, there’s very few teams who could defeat Japan. Unfortunately, Team USA was the one who had to go up against them.

Japan held John Shuster’s team to just two points in seven ends of play in an 8-2 rout of the Americans.

Both teams were tied for fourth in the team standings heading into the game. The U.S. falls to 2-3, now tied for fifth. Japan improves to 3-2, tied for third overall.

Click here for a full recap from tonight’s curling action

Other results: 
NOR def. DEN 10-8
SUI def. CAN 8-6
Current Team Standings:
1. Sweden 5-0
2. Canada 4-2
3. Switzerland 4-2
4. Japan 3-2
5. USA 2-3
6. Great Britain 2-3
7. Italy 2-3
8. Norway 2-3
9. Denmark 1-4
10. Korea 1-4

Marcel Hirscher leads GS; defending champ Ted Ligety trails

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Austria’s Marcel Hirscher leads by a commanding .63 seconds after the first of two giant slalom runs at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Hirscher, the reigning giant slalom world champion, is in position to win his second gold medal in PyeongChang, after claiming the combined title.

American Ted Ligety, who is nicknamed “Mr. GS,” is a distant 2.44 seconds behind Hirscher.

“I just sucked,” Ligety said on NBC.

Ligety is hoping to become the first man to successfully defend an Olympic giant slalom gold medal since Italy’s Alberto Tomba in 1992.

Standings after the first run

1. Marcel Hirscher (Austria)
2. Alexis Pinturault (France) +.63 seconds
3. Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen (Norway) +.66 seconds
4. Riccardo Tonetti (Italy) +.75 seconds
5. Mathieu Faivre (France) +.79 seconds