World Relays

U.S. women sweep on final day of World Relays (videos)

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The U.S. won all three women’s races at the first World Relays on Sunday, giving it victories in five of 10 overall events to close the meet in Nassau, Bahamas.

The American women captured the 4x200m, 4x400m and 4x800m one day after taking the 4x100m. Also Sunday, the American men won their first and only relay in the 4x400m. Jamaica took the men’s 4x100m (after the U.S. was disqualified in a preliminary heat). Kenya won the men’s 4x1500m in world-record time.

Overall, the U.S. (five), Kenya (three) and Jamaica (two) were the only nations to win races at the two-day meet.

The U.S. women topped Great Britain and Jamaica in the 4x200m with a quartet of Shalonda SolomonTawanna MeadowsBianca Knight and Kimberlyn Duncan. London Olympic 200m medalists Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter were not on the U.S. roster in Nassau.

The U.S. prevailed in 1 minute, 29.45 seconds, .16 better than Great Britain. Jamaica, with world 200m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on anchor, settled for third after a poor final baton exchange.

The U.S. women’s 4x400m, with 2012 Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross, won in 3:21.73, holding off Jamaica (3:23.26). The U.S. and Jamaica were even after Richards-Ross’ second leg, but veteran Natasha Hastings opened a lead that proved more than enough for anchor Joanna Atkins. World 4x400m champion Russia, long a U.S. rival in this event, did not enter a quartet despite being on the initial start list Saturday.

Yohan Blake anchored a Usain Bolt-less Jamaica to a sprint relay win for a second straight night, this time in the 4x100m in 37.77. The U.S. men missed the final after being disqualified for passing a baton out of the zone in their preliminary heat. On Saturday, the U.S. men’s 4x200m relay team was also disqualified on an illegal handoff.

Beijing Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt broke some 17,000 hearts at Thomas Robinson Stadium, passing the Bahamian 4x400m anchor on the final straight for victory. Merritt and the U.S. men, including Olympic and world triple jump champion Christian Taylor, clocked 2:57.25. The Bahamas, which won the 2012 Olympic 4x400m gold, was second in 2:57.59.

Kenya completed a world-record sweep of the men’s and women’s 4x1500m. World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop crossed the finish in 14:22.22, 14 seconds faster than Kenya’s previous world record from 2009. The U.S., with Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano anchoring, held off Ethiopia for second place in 14:40.8.

But the U.S. women prevented Kenya from a middle-distance sweep, taking the 4x800m in 8:01.58, bettering Kenya by 2.7 seconds. World junior 800m champion Ajee’ Wilson handed a significant lead to anchor Brenda Martinez, the reigning world bronze medalist. Martinez, who also anchored the second-place U.S. 4x1500m team Saturday, was never challenged by Kenyan anchor Eunice Sum, the reigning world champion.

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Geraint Thomas cuts Julian Alaphilippe’s Tour de France lead

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FOIX, France (AP) — When one French rider starts to fade, another comes to the fore. One way or the other, France may still be on course for its first Tour de France winner since 1985.

Dancing over his saddle, his mouth wide open and gasping for air, Thibaut Pinot launched a ferocious attack Sunday and profited from the first signs of weakness in the high mountains from French race leader Julian Alaphilippe to edge closer to the yellow jersey in the overall standings.

Ascending the last uphill finish in the Pyrenees with a display of power and fluidity that signaled that he’ll also be a major contender to win the Tour, Pinot gained time on all his rivals for the second consecutive day following his triumph at the famed Tourmalet mountain in the previous stage.

Heading to the second and final rest day Monday ahead of what promises to be a climactic final week in the Alps, the race is exquisitely poised. Six riders are all within 2 minutes, 14 seconds of each other at the top of the standings.

The six terrible ascents above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) in the Alps, peppered over three mountain stages, will likely decide who will stand on top of the podium on the Champs-Elysees next Sunday.

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“The high mountains have only just begun,” said Alaphilippe. “The Alps are going to be a big mouthful.”

Surging from the mist and rain, Pinot crossed the finish line of Sunday’s Stage 15 in second place, 33 seconds behind Simon Yates, who posted a second stage win after a long solo raid, three days after his first stage victory in the southwestern mountain range.

The 29-year-old Pinot was irresistible when he made his move seven kilometers from the summit. Only Emanuel Buchmann and defending champion Geraint Thomas’ teammate Egan Bernal could follow. But Pinot accelerated again about 2 kilometers later to drop them for good.

Pinot moved to fourth place overall, 1 minute, 50 seconds behind Alaphilippe.

“The weather conditions and the stage were good for me, I had good sensations, I needed to make the most of it,” said Pinot. “I need to keep going up in the general classification, the most difficult stages are looming.”

While Pinot was escorted by his faithful Groupama-FDJ teammate David Gaudu in the final ascent toward Prat d’Albis, Alaphilippe was isolated without a single teammate to help him in the 12-kilometer climb and cracked, yet managed to salvage his yellow jersey.

Alaphilippe was so exhausted after his effort up the hill, where he grimaced through the rain, that he had to grip a roadside barrier afterward while he caught his breath.

“If I crack I hope he’ll carry the torch for the French,” Alaphilippe said about Pinot.

Thomas, who had already conceded time to Pinot at the Tourmalet, remained second in the general classification. He got dropped when Pinot took the lead from a reduced group of contenders but did not panic. He rode at his pace until he accelerated with 1.5 kilometers left to cut the overall gap on Alaphilippe from 2 minutes, 2 seconds to 1:35. Steven Kruijswijk of the Netherlands stood third overall, 1:47 off the pace.

Thomas said after the stage he could have tried to follow Pinot earlier but instead opted for a conservative approach because he did not want to bring back Alaphilippe to the front. Bernal was with Pinot and the Welshman would not take the risk of chasing down their common rival. Bernal, a Colombian with excellent climbing skills, remains involved in the fight for the yellow jersey, 2:02 behind Alaphilippe.

“I felt better than yesterday but I needed to try to pace it when it all kicked off,” Thomas said. “It’s a difficult one, tactics wise. I wanted to go, I had the legs to go but I wasn’t going to chase down Egan Bernal with Alaphilippe on my wheel.”

Coming right after the ascent of the Tourmalet, Stage 15 ran close to the ancient Cathar castles and was a punishing ride totaling more than 39 kilometers of climbing.

Alaphilippe was so exhausted after his effort up the hill, where he grimaced and dribbled through the rain, that he had to grip a roadside barrier afterward while he caught his breath.

“If I crack I hope he’ll carry the torch for the French,” Alaphilippe said about Pinot.

Yates, the Vuelta defending champion, was given a free reign by the peloton when he took part in an early breakaway as he was not a threat overall. He made his decisive move about 9 kilometers from the line.

“I’m very proud of that,” Yates said of his second victory at this Tour.

Watch world-class cycling events throughout the year with the NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, including all 21 stages of the Tour de France live & commercial-free, plus access to renowned races like La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the UCI World Championships and many more.

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce turns back the clock, wins another Diamond League

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce continues to show she’s just as fast as before childbirth, winning a Diamond League 100m in 10.78 seconds in London on Sunday.

Fraser-Pryce, a 32-year-old, two-time Olympic champion, beat a field that included the two fastest women of 2018, Brit Dina Asher-Smith (10.92) and Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou (10.98).

It lacked the only woman ranked higher than Fraser-Pryce this season, Rio Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, who edged her countrywoman at the Jamaican Championships on June 21.

But Fraser-Pryce has now broken 10.79 three times this season, her first time doing so since 2013. She could become the oldest woman to win an Olympic or world 100m title in Doha in two months.

“10.78 is a fabulous time,” she said. “My aim for Doha is definitely to be on the podium. For me, it’s a long season from here, so I am hoping my experience will come into play.”

Full London results are here. The meet lacked U.S. stars who are preparing for this week’s USATF Outdoor Championships, where world champs spots are at stake. The Diamond League resumes Aug. 18 in Birmingham, Great Britain.

Also Sunday, Kenyan Hellen Obiri won an anticipated head-to-head with Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan in the 5000m. Obiri, the world champion, clocked 14:20.36, the world’s fastest time in two years. Hassan, who nine days ago broke the mile world record, took third in a European record 14:22.12.

Swede Daniel Ståhl won a discus that included the world’s top three this year and the reigning Olympic and world gold and silver medalists. Stahl launched a 68.56-meter throw to overtake Jamaican Fedrick Dacres.

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