Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin primed for his ‘Super Bowl’ in Diamond League finale

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Justin Gatlin will put his undefeated 2014 record on the line one more time in the last Diamond League meet of the season.

“Traveling to Brussels I was thinking about my favorite football team that remained undefeated for a long while, but in the end they lost a game,” said Gatlin, who gave football a try during his doping suspension from 2006 to 2010. “I said to myself : Brussels is going to be my Super Bowl, and I definitely don’t want to lose my game Friday.”

Gatlin was slated to race the 100m and the 200m in a one-hour span in the Belgium capital, but he was no longer on the 200m start list when this story was published (update: Gatlin was re-added to the 200m start list Thursday afternoon). He is the fastest man over both distances this year, clocking 9.80 and 19.68 seconds, respectively.

Usain Bolt missed the early portion of the season after foot surgery, recorded two pedestrian 100m races (by his standards) and ended his year a couple weeks ago.

Bolt has said he wants to retire after the 2017 World Championships. Gatlin, who at 32 is four years older than Bolt, wants to compete beyond that.

“In London I wanted to win the Olympic title, but I made a technical error in the final that allowed Bolt to move two strides ahead,” Gatlin said. “In Rio [de Janeiro in 2016], I don’t want to make mistakes anymore. My idea is that I want to continue until 2020. As long as there are no young guys on the track who can beat me, I want to go on.”

In Brussels, Gatlin will face Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell in a meeting of the world’s fastest sprinters before Bolt began breaking records in 2008.

Allyson FelixGalen Rupp and Jenny Simpson are also scheduled to be in action at the second of two Diamond League finals.

The finals are labeled that way because they mark the last competitions in individual event Diamond Races, accumulation points standings that determine season-long champions.

The Diamond League finals provide double the points than the previous Diamond League meets. That means first place per event in Brussels awards eight points, second place gets four points and third place two points.

Each of the 32 individual event Diamond Race winners receive $40,000 and a Diamond Trophy. Half of the Diamond Races concluded in Zurich last week. The other 16 conclude in Brussels (Universal Sports and UniversalSports.com, 2 p.m. ET).

Here are the start lists. Here are five events to watch:

Men’s high jump — 1:35 p.m. ET

This has been the most exciting event this season, thanks to world record attempts by Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Ukraine’s World champion Bohdan Bondarenko. Somehow, the 1994 world record set by Cuban Javier Sotomayor still stands.

Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov is also a threat to win in Brussels, though he cannot mathematically overtake Bondarenko or Barshim for the season title. Bondarenko leads Barshim by four points.

Men’s 100m — 2:15

Gatlin may be undefeated this season, but he actually trails countryman Mike Rodgers by one point in the Diamond Race. If Gatlin finishes in the top three and ahead of Rodgers, he will take the title.

Gay and Powell are also in the field, one week after they looked unimpressive in a 100m in Zurich. There, Powell was fourth in 10.07 and Gay last in 10.35. Powell and Gay, who vied for the world’s fastest man title seven years ago before Bolt emerged, both failed drug tests last year and sat out about 12 months.

Men’s 1500m — 2:53

The loaded field includes the two fastest men this year — Kenyans Silas Kiplagat and Asbel Kiprop — who are separated by one point in the 1500m season standings. Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman steps up from finishing second in the 800m in Zurich last week. American Galen Rupp steps down from taking third in the Zurich 5000m, joining countryman and Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano.

Remember, Kiprop took a crack at the world record in Monaco on July 18, where he was beaten by Kiplagat. Kiplagat ran the fastest time in nearly 10 years that day. This is Kiplagat and Kiprop’s first meeting over 1500m since.

Women’s 200m — 3:04

Olympic champion Allyson Felix owns the Diamond Race lead by two points, but there are three women in this field who have run faster than her best time this year. Felix, coming back this year after a torn hamstring at the 2013 World Championships, has a season’s best of 22.34, a time she has bettered each of the previous 11 seasons.

The competition in Brussels will put pressure on Felix. It includes the fastest woman in the event this year, the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers, and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare.

Women’s 3000m — 3:46

This non-Olympic event includes a rematch of the most thrilling finish from Zurich last week. Jenny Simpson held off Shannon Rowbury in the 1500m by .01 on Aug. 28. They’re back at double the distance.

So are the Diamond League women’s distance standings leader Mercy Cherono (Kenya), the 3000m indoor world record holder Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) and the fastest woman over 1500m this year, the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan.

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Tadej Pogacar stuns Primoz Roglic, set to win Tour de France

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Tadej Pogacar overtook countryman Primoz Roglic and is set to become the youngest Tour de France champion since 1904, the second-youngest in history and the first Slovenian champion.

Pogacar, who turns 22 on Monday, overcame a 57-second deficit to Roglic and won Saturday’s penultimate stage, a 22-mile time trial with a finishing four-mile climb. He is 59 seconds ahead of Roglic after three weeks and 84 hours of total racing.

“Actually, my dream was just to be [in] the Tour de France,” Pogacar said. “I cannot believe it, and if you ask me in one week, one month, I will still not believe it, probably.”

Pogacar won the stage by 81 seconds, greater than the margin separating second place from eighth place after 55 minutes on the roads. Roglic was fifth.

It’s reminiscent of American Greg LeMond surpassing Frenchman Laurent Fignon in the time trial finale of the 1989 Tour.

That final margin was the closest in Tour history — eight seconds. This one would be the 11th time in Tour history that the difference is less than a minute, according to ProCyclingStats.com.

“I struggled with everything, just not enough power,” Roglic said. “I was just more and more without the power that I obviously needed. I was just really giving everything till the end.”

Australian Richie Porte will join Pogacar and Roglic on the podium after moving up from fourth place going into the time trial. Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez, who came into the day in third, dropped to sixth.

It’s the first time since 2007 that everybody on the final Tour de France podium will be there for the first time.

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Sunday’s finale is the traditional ceremonial ride into Paris where the overall leaders don’t attack each other.

Pogacar is riding his first Tour de France and in his second season as a professional cyclist with a World Tour team.

Last September, he finished third in the Vuelta a Espana, one of three Grand Tours, which Roglic won. At the time, Pogacar became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

“I knew that I can be with the best, that I can follow,” after the Vuelta, Pogacar said, “but I never thought that I would win already this year, especially in this season that was really strange.”

UAE Team Emirates initially planned to use Pogacar to support Fabio Aru, but the Slovenian’s continued emergence changed the plan.

“I’m going [to the Tour] firstly to learn,” Pogacar said in May. “But if I have a chance to show what I can do, I will.”

Pogacar was Robin to Roglic’s Batman for most of this Tour.

Roglic wore the yellow jersey as race leader the last two weeks. heading the dominant Jumbo-Visma team. Pogacar donned the white jersey for the highest-placed rider 25 and under, though he was on a weaker team.

But when they went head-to-head on climbs, Pogacar usually stuck with Roglic, sometimes riding away from him.

When it came down to the final climb on Saturday, with no team support in what they call the race of truth, Pogacar showed who was the strongest Slovenian.

“[Roglic] was really superior through the whole Tour,” Pogacar said. “He must be devastated, but that’s bike racing, I guess. Today I beat him, and that was it.”

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2020 Tour de France standings

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2020 Tour de France standings for the yellow jersey, green jersey, white jersey and polka-dot jersey through stage 20 of 21 …

Overall (Yellow Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 84:26:33
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) — +24:44
15. Sepp Kuss (USA) — +42:20
17. Nairo Quintana (COL) — +1:02:46
29. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) — +1:59:33
36. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) — +2:17:41
DNF. Egan Bernal (COL)

Sprinters (Green Jersey)
1. Sam Bennett (IRL) — 319 points
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 264
3. Matteo Trentin (ITA) — 250
4. Bryan Coquard (FRA) — 173
5. Caleb Ewan (AUS) — 158

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) — 84:26:33
2. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
3. Valentin Madouas (FRA) — +1:42:22
4. Dani Martinez (COL) — +1:54:51
5. Lennard Kamna (GER) — +2:14:33

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