Tori Bowie

Tori Bowie, Justin Gatlin star at Monaco Diamond League meet

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Tori Bowie and Justin Gatlin ran eye-popping sprints at the Monaco Diamond League meet Friday, when hoped-for world records in two men’s events did not come to fruition.

Bowie, back from a leg injury at the U.S. Championships on June 27, ran a personal-best 10.80 seconds to beat a field that included Olympic and World 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the last two Olympic 200m champions, Allyson Felix and Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Bowie has only been primarily a sprinter since March, when she switched her focus off the long jump. Her personal best before this season was 11.14. She is now the fastest woman in the world this year and 17th-fastest of all time after winning Friday’s race with a .8m/s tailwaind.

Campbell-Brown was second to Bowie in 10.96. Felix and Fraser-Pryce were fifth and sixth, respectively, in 11.01.

Gatlin, the fastest 100m man in the world this year, made a rare appearance in a 200m and made the most of it. He beat a field that included Tyson Gay in 19.68 seconds, smashing his personal best of 19.86 from 2002.

It’s the fastest time in the world this year and would have finished second to Usain Bolt at last year’s World Championships, .02 behind. Bolt’s win came with zero wind. Gatlin ran into a .5 m/s headwind.

Gay was fourth in 20.22 on Friday.

The men’s 1500m was the most anticipated event of the meet, with World champion Asbel Kiprop expected to take a run at the world record of 3:26.

It was not to be, as countryman Silas Kiplagat passed Kiprop on the final straightaway to win in 3:27.64. Kiprop was eyeing Hicham El Guerrouj‘s world record from 1998. Instead, he fell from fourth to fifth fastest all time with Kiplagat taking his place behind El Guerrouj, Bernard Lagat and Noureddine Morceli.

There were no world-record attempts in the men’s high jump, won by Ukraine World champion Bohdan Bondarenko, who cleared 2.40m. Bondarenko and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim have made attempts to better the 21-year-old world record of 2.45m this year.

Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha finished fifth in a scintillating 800m. Botswana Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos won in 1:42.45, shaving .89 off the fastest time of the year. It was the second-fastest time in the world since the epic London Olympic final.

France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde became the first man to break 13 seconds in the 110m hurdles since Aries Merritt set the world record on Sept. 7, 2012. The Frenchman won in a national record 12.95. Merritt, in his injury-delayed Diamond League season debut, was seventh in 13.47.

World champion LaShawn Merritt pulled away to win the 400m in 44.3 against a field that did not include rival and Olympic champion Kirani James.

Jamaican world leader Kaliese Spencer won the 400m hurdles in 54.09. Czech World champion Zuzana Hejnova was seventh in 55.86 in her first major appearance of 2014 after breaking a toe in January.

Molly Huddle broke her American record in the 5000m, finishing in 14:42.64. Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba won with the fastest time in the world this year, 14:28.88.

American Ajee’ Wilson won the women’s 800m in 1:57.67, the fastest time in the world this year.

Brazil’s Fabiana Murer won her third straight Diamond League pole vault with a 4.76m clearance, topping Olympic champion Jenn Suhr.

The Diamond League resumes in Stockholm on Aug. 21, after the Commonwealth Games.

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Simone Biles, her name sparkling, extends 6-year win streak

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Simone Biles has long stood out for her gymnastics, but on Saturday she competed with her last name sparkling in silver beads on her World Champions Centre leotard for the first time. The gym’s other athletes had “WCC” on the back.

Biles lived up to the billing, extending her six-year win streak to 19 straight all-arounds, capturing the U.S. Classic, a tune-up for next month’s U.S. Championships.

Biles, the four-time Rio Olympic champion, scored 60 points in Louisville at the meet where she made her comeback last year after nearly two years off from competition. She prevailed by a comfortable 2.1 points over Riley McCusker, her largest margin of victory of her four U.S. Classic titles.

“I’m very satisfied,” she said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “I’m a little sad that I went out of bounds on floor [exercise], but overall I feel like there are improvements to be made.”

Full results are here.

Biles is prepping for nationals in Kansas City in three weeks, when she eyes a sixth U.S. all-around title to tie Clara Schroth Lomady‘s record from the AAU era in the 1940s and ’50s.

Then come the world championships in October in Stuttgart, Germany. Biles could win a fifth all-around to move one shy of Kohei Uchimura‘s record.

The world’s other top gymnasts may be her countrywomen.

Biles was outscored on balance beam on Saturday by 2018 World teammates Kara Eaker and McCusker and beaten on uneven bars by 2017 World all-around champion Morgan HurdSunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and McCusker. Biles swept all the gold medals at last year’s nationals.

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Geraint Thomas struggles; Julian Alaphilippe ups Tour de France lead

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LA MONGIE, France (AP) — When the team of Geraint Thomas was in its pomp at the Tour de France, a time trial followed by a big mountain stage would have been playgrounds for Sky — now in new colors as Ineos — to take cycling’s greatest race by the scruff of the neck and leave everyone else fighting for second place.

Not this year.

Thomas, the defending champion, cracked on Saturday on the Tour’s first encounter with a climb to above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), exposing unprecedented weaknesses in his team that has won six Tours in the past seven years.

The time trial on Friday and the climb up to the legendary Tourmalet pass on Saturday seemed primed for Thomas to reel in Julian Alaphilippe, the yellow jersey-holder from France who is setting the Tour alight with his punchy riding and determination to keep the race lead, filling French fans’ heads with dreams of a first homegrown winner since 1985.

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But instead, Thomas has seen Alaphilippe only get further and further away. In two days, the Frenchman has put 50 seconds of extra daylight between him and the Welshman. His lead — up to 2 minutes, 2 seconds — is becoming large enough to start realistically envisioning Alaphilippe in yellow in Paris next weekend as the first French winner since Bernard Hinault.

Fueling the ecstasy of delirious crowds that lined Saturday’s steep uphill finish, French rider Thibaut Pinot won Stage 14, putting him back in the picture to fight for the podium after he lost mountains of time on Stage 10.

Thomas rightly pointed out that the Tour is far from done, with six more ascents to above 2,000 meters still to come.

But his inability to stay with Pinot, Alaphilippe and other title contenders at the top of the Tourmalet — he was eighth, 36 seconds behind Pinot — was a mini-earthquake for the Tour dominated by his British team since 2012 — with champions Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and, in 2018, Thomas.

“Not the best day. I just didn’t feel quite on it from the start. I was quite weak,” Thomas said.

“At the end I knew I just had to pace it. I didn’t really attempt to follow when they kicked. I just thought I should ride my own pace rather than follow them and blow up on the steepest bit at the end. It’s disappointing. I just tried to limit the damage.”

Having taken cycling to a new level since 2012 with its vast budget and attention to the minutest of details, the team run by David Brailsford has been hit both by misfortune and by the inevitability that, eventually, other teams would start to close the gap.

A horror crash in training for four-time winner Froome, now recovering from career-threatening broken bones, robbed the team of its ace. Thomas’ own preparations were hampered by a crash at the Tour of Switzerland last month.

And Egan Bernal, being groomed by Brailsford to succeed Froome and Thomas, looks increasingly unable to compete for the title this year. Bernal was fifth on the Tourmalet and is fourth overall, 3 minutes behind Alaphilippe.

Pinot, now sixth overall and 3:12 behind Alaphilippe, is showing remarkable grit in bouncing back from his Stage 10 misfortune, when he was part of a group that got separated from other title contenders in crosswinds.

“I have this rage inside me, because in my opinion it was an injustice,” said Pinot, a podium finisher in 2014.

“Since the start of the Tour I had this stage in the back of my mind. The Tourmalet, it’s mythical,” said Pinot, who has three career stage wins at the Tour.

French President Emmanuel Macron, on hand at the top of the Tourmalet to see Pinot win and Alaphilippe extend his lead, gushed about the “two fantastic riders.”

“They attack and they have heart,” Macron said.

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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