Tina Maze

Tina Maze ends drought in Cortina d’Ampezzo

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At last, Tina Maze returned to a familiar position — the top of the podium — two weeks before the Sochi Olympics.

The Slovenian skiing and singing sensation won a World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Saturday, her long-awaited first victory of the season after unprecedented domination last year.

“There were a lot of emotions,” Maze said, according to The Associated Press. “It was a really long time. … When I find the right feeling like I found it today I can ski fast.”

Maze prevailed in 1 minute, 37.79 seconds in the Italian Dolomites, beating Swiss Marianne Kaufman-Abderhalden by .27. Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather was third, followed by German World Cup overall leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch in fourth.

The top Americans were Stacey Cook and Julia Mancuso in fifth and seventh, their second straight day in the top 10 as they continue to improve from a slow start to the season.

“This week has been a perfect preparation for the Olympics,” Mancuso said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “I couldn’t be in a better place right now, and I am excited I was able to come out of that valley and be ready to fight for medals.”

But the day belonged to Maze, a broken record phrase last season.

How dominant was Maze in 2012-13? Here are some stats:

*Led the overall standings from wire to wire over 35 races.
*Finished first or second in all five race disciplines.
*Made the podium a record 24 times in one season.
*Shattered the record for most points in a season with 2,414 (Hermann Maier had 2,000).
*Had more than twice as many points as second place (Hoefl-Riesch).
*Shattered the record for margin of victory with 1,313 (Maier had 743).

All of which made it shocking it took Maze until the 22nd race for her maiden win of the follow-up season. She didn’t free fall, but she was clearly not in form the first couple months, making three podiums over the first 12 races.

“It’s always difficult after that kind of season [in 2012-13],” Maze told Reuters recently. “I know I’m in the best shape of my career even if I’m not showing it.

Two weeks ago, Maze announced she split with Italian coach Walter Ronconi and replaced him with Swiss Mauro Pini. Ronconi was not the coach responsible for Maze’s rise to Alpine’s zenith. He had replaced Livio Magoni, who left after last season for a spot with the Italian women’s team.

Maze’s boyfriend, Andrea Massi, still oversees Maze and is labeled as the head coach or team manager in various reports.

Now, Maze can take confidence into not only the remaining World Cup races (beginning with a super-G in Cortina on Sunday) but also Sochi.

Lindsey Vonn‘s absence leaves an opening for a new woman to become an Olympic star. Maze, 30, will be going to her fourth Games, already owning silver medals from the 2010 Olympic super-G and giant slalom.

She has the talent to win medals in all five Olympic races and put pressure on Mikaela Shiffrin in slalom, though that is her weakest event.

Cortina d’Ampezzo Downhill
1. Tina Maze (SLO) 1:37.79
2. Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden (SUI) 1:38.06
3. Tina Weirather (LIE) 1:38.17
4. Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) 1:38.33
5. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 1:38.35
5. Stacey Cook (USA) 1:38.35
7. Julia Mancuso (USA) 1:38.42
8. Dominique Gisin (SUI) 1:38.46
9. Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT) 1:38.52
10. Lara Gut (SUI) 1:38.58

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2020 Tour de France standings

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2020 Tour de France results for the yellow jersey, green jersey, white jersey and polka-dot jersey …

Overall (Yellow Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 87:20:05
2. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — +:59
3. Richie Porte (AUS) — +3:30
4. Mikel Landa (ESP) — +5:58
5. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — +6:47
7. Tom Dumoulin (NED) — +7:48
8. Rigberto Uran (COL) — +8:02
9. Adam Yates (GBR) — +9:25
10. Damiano Caruso (ITA) — +14:03
13. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — +25:53
15. Sepp Kuss (USA) — +42:20
17. Nairo Quintana (COL) — +1:03:07
29. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) — +1:59:54
36. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) — +2:19:11
DNF. Egan Bernal (COL)

Sprinters (Green Jersey)
1. Sam Bennett (IRL) — 380 points
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 284
3. Matteo Trentin (ITA) — 260
4. Bryan Coquard (FRA) — 181
5. Wout van Aert (BEL) — 174

Climbers (Polka-Dot Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 82 points
2. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — 74
3. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — 67
4. Marc Hirschi (SUI) — 62
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — 51

Young Rider (White Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 87:20:13
2. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
3. Valentin Madouas (FRA) — +1:42:43
4. Dani Martinez (COL) — +1:55:12
5. Lennard Kamna (GER) — +2:15:39

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TOUR DE FRANCE: TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage | Favorites, Predictions

Tadej Pogacar, Slovenia win Tour de France for the ages

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A Tour de France that almost didn’t happen ended up among the most exciting in the race’s 117-year history.

Tadej Pogacar, a 21-year-old Slovenian, rode into Paris on Sunday as the first man in more than 60 years to pedal in the yellow jersey for the first time on the final day of a Tour.

Let’s get the achievements out of the way: Pogacar is the first Slovenian to win the Tour, finishing with the other overall leaders behind stage winner Sam Bennett on the Champs-Elysees.

“Even if I would come second or last, it wouldn’t matter, it would be still nice to be here,” Pogacar said. “This is just the top of the top. I cannot describe this feeling with the words.”

He is the second-youngest winner in race history, after Henri Cornet in 1904. (Cornet won after the first four finishers were disqualified for unspecified cheating. The 19-year-old Frenchman rode 21 miles with a flat tire during the last stage after spectators reportedly threw nails on the road.)

Pogacar is the first man to win a Tour in his debut since Frenchman Laurent Fignon in 1983.

And he’s part of a historic one-two for Slovenia, a nation with the population of Houston.

Countryman Primoz Roglic, who wore the yellow jersey for nearly two weeks before ceding it after Saturday’s epic time trial, embraced Pogacar after a tearful defeat Saturday and again during Sunday’s stage.

Tasmanian Richie Porte, who moved from fourth place to third on Saturday, made his first Tour podium in his 10th start, a record according to ProCyclingStats.com. The age range on the Paris gloaming podium — more than 13 years — is reportedly the largest in Tour history.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage

Three men on a Tour de France podium in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, each for the first time. Hasn’t been done since 2007, arguably the first Tour of a new era.

This Tour feels similarly guard-changing.

It barely got off, delayed two months by the coronavirus pandemic. Two days before the start, France’s prime minister said the virus was “gaining ground” in the nation and announced new “red zones” in the country, including parts of the Tour route.

Testing protocols meant that if any team had two members (cyclists or staff) test positive before the start or on either rest day, the whole team would be thrown out.

It never came to that. Yet the Tour finishes without 2019 champion, Colombian Egan Bernal, who last year became the first South American winner and, at the time, the youngest in more than 100 years.

Bernal abandoned last Wednesday after struggling in the mountains. His standings plummet signaled the end, at least for now, of the Ineos Grenadiers dynasty after five straight Tour titles dating to Chris Froome and the Team Sky days.

Jumbo-Visma became the new dominant team. The leader Roglic was ushered up climbs by several Jumbo men, including Sepp Kuss, the most promising American male cyclist in several years.

What a story Roglic was shaping up to be. A junior champion ski jumper, he was concussed in a training crash on the eve of what would have been his World Cup debut in 2007. Roglic never made it to the World Cup before quitting and taking up cycling years later.

As Roglic recovered from that spill in Planica, Pogacar had his sights on the Rog Ljubljana cycling club about 60 miles east. Little Tadej wanted to follow older brother Tilen into bike racing, but the club didn’t have a bike small enough.

The following spring, they found one. Pogacar was off and pedaling. In 2018, at age 18, he was offered a contract and then signed with UAE Team Emirates, his first World Tour team. The next year, Pogacar finished third at the Vuelta a Espana won by Roglic, becoming the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

Pogacar was initially slated to support another rider, Fabio Aru, for UAE Emirates at this year’s Tour. But his continued ascent propelled him into a team leader role.

Bernal and Roglic entered the Tour as co-favorites. After that, Pogacar was among a group of podium contenders but perhaps with the highest ceiling.

He stayed with the favorites for much of the Tour, save losing 81 seconds on the seventh stage, caught on the wrong end of a split after a crash in front of him.

“I’m not worried,” Pogacar said that day. “We will try another day.”

The next day, actually. He reeled back half of the lost time, putting him within striking distance of Roglic going into Saturday’s 22-mile time trial, the so-called “race of truth.”

Pogacar put in a performance in the time trial that reminded of Greg LeMond‘s epic finale in 1989. Pogacar won the stage by 81 seconds, greater than the margin separating second place from eighth place. Roglic was a disappointing fifth on the day, but he could have finished second and still lost all of his 57-second lead to Pogacar.

Pogacar turns 22 on Monday, but that might not add much to the celebration.

“Sorry,” he said, “but I’m not really a fan of my birthdays.”

MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

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