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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French skiers to start in Lake Louise after David Poisson’s death

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PARIS (AP) — The French skiing federation says its athletes will compete in Lake Louise at the first World Cup speed events of the Alpine season despite the death of David Poisson earlier this week.

The 35-year-old Poisson died on Monday in a crash while training at the Canadian resort of Nakiska, which staged Alpine skiing races of the 1988 Olympics.

The federation said in a statement Sunday that it has provided psychological support to all members of the French squad who were present in Nakiska when Poisson died, and that “all athletes decided to start the first speed World Cup of the season on Nov. 25-26 in Lake Louise, Canada.”

Poisson, who won the downhill bronze medal at the 2013 world championships, was training for the upcoming World Cup races in North America.

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John Shuster, 30 pounds lighter, rallies for 4th Olympic curling berth

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John Shuster is going to a fourth Olympics. It’s one more chance to prove Urban Dictionary wrong.

Shuster, 30 pounds lighter since his second straight Olympic failure in Sochi, led a team that beat Heath McCormick‘s squad at the U.S. Olympic Trials finals in Omaha on Saturday night.

Shuster, Tyler George, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner lost the opener of a best-of-three finals series on Thursday.

They came back to deliver in a pair of must-win games, 9-4 on Friday night and 7-5 on Saturday, after spending each day at the Omaha Zoo.

The new-look Shuster — leaner and, at least this weekend, clutch — would astonish those who know him by scenes at the last two Olympics.

After taking bronze in 2006 as a role player, he led the last two U.S. Olympic teams to 2-7 records in 2010 and in 2014. Last place in Vancouver, where he was benched after an 0-4 start. Next to last place in Sochi.

After the last Olympics, the former bartender from Chisholm, Minn., was left off USA Curling’s 10-man high performance team.

He took it as motivation to get in shape.

Shuster, a father of a 2- and a 4-year-old who once said, “If I don’t have pizza three or four times a week, I’m not happy,” now totes meal replacement shakes. He’s starting to enjoy Olympic lifting.

Shuster, George, Hamilton and Landsteiner, all absent from that USA Curling high performance list, formed their own team. They became Team USA in their first season together and represented the Stars and Stripes at worlds in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Their results — fourth, third and fifth —  marked the best string of U.S. men’s or women’s finishes at that level in a decade.

Shuster is set to join Debbie McCormick as the only Americans to curl at four Olympics. The sport was part of the first Winter Games in 1924, then absent as a medal sport until 1998.

“I don’t think it’s about the four Olympics for me,” Shuster said on NBCSN. “What this is about — and what I’m about — is getting my teammates to now. I have two new Olympians on this team, and I know how special that is.”

George, the 35-year-old vice skip for Shuster, led a team that lost to Shuster in the 2010 Olympic Trials final. The liquor store manager from Duluth, Minn., is going to his first Winter Games.

As is the 28-year-old Hamilton, whose younger sister qualified for PyeongChang earlier Saturday.

Landsteiner, a 27-year-old corrosion engineer, played with Shuster since 2011, including in Sochi.

Alternate Joe Polo can go 12 years between Olympic appearances after taking bronze on that Torino team.

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