USA women's gymnastics

U.S. women win World Gymnastics Championships team gold in record rout (video)

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The U.S. is still in a class of its own in women’s gymnastics, winning the World Championship team gold by an even more extraordinary margin than it did at Worlds in 2011 and the Olympics in 2012.

Simone BilesKyla RossAlyssa BaumannMadison Kocian, Ashton Locklear and MyKayla Skinner combined for 179.28 points, 6.693 better than silver medalist China in Nanning on Wednesday. Russia, which finished second to the U.S. in 2011 and 2012, was third.

“Three-up, three-count, you have to hit,” Baumann said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “Everyone hit all their events.”

It’s the largest women’s team margin of victory at a World Championships or Olympics since the new scoring system was implemented in 2006.

The U.S. won the 2011 World Championships by 4.082. It won the 2012 Olympics by 5.066, which was the previous record. There was no team event at the 2013 World Championships.

The men’s record margin is 7.25 points, set by China at the 2008 Olympics.

“They were able to come in and not be intimidated and just do the job they were prepared for,” U.S. National Team coordinator Martha Karolyi said in Nanning. “I think our girls are performing at a level much higher than the rest of the world.”

Gymnastics scores are made up of two parts — difficulty and execution. Chinese star Yao Jinnan was asked what the difference was between the U.S. and China.

“I think the distance majorly lies in execution and difficulty,” she said.

A key apparatus, as in 2011 and 2012, was vault, boosted in particular by higher difficulty from the Americans. They scored 2.042 more points than any other nation on vault Wednesday.

In 2011, the U.S. scored 2.3 more than any other nation in vault in the Worlds team final. In 2012, the difference was 1.766 in the Olympics.

The Americans also posted the highest score of all eight nations on their Achilles’ heel event, uneven bars.

The U.S.’ dominance this year is even more remarkable given several of its best gymnasts were left at home.

Maggie Nichols, the No. 3 all-arounder behind Biles and Ross at the P&G Championships, dislocated a kneecap. Rachel Gowey, fourth at the Secret Classic behind Biles, Ross and Nichols, broke an ankle. McKayla Maroney had knee surgery in March, and Gabby Douglas pushed back her return to next year. Olympic alternate and 2014 American Cup winner Elizabeth Price retired from elite gymnastics in April.

Of course, what this means for the Rio 2016 Olympics isn’t totally clear. Only one woman from the 2010 U.S. World Championships team that won silver behind Russia made it back for the London 2012 Olympics — Aly Raisman. Two years is a long time in women’s gymnastics.

The World Championships continue with the men’s all-around final Thursday (full schedule here). Japan’s Kohei Uchimura is a heavy favorite to win his fifth straight World title. No other male or female gymnast has won four.

Biles and Ross go in the women’s all-around final Friday. Biles, also a heavy favorite, will try to become the first woman to win back-to-back World titles since Russian Svetlana Khorkina in 2001 and 2003.

“Just go back and sleep, and then I guess we get the morning off maybe tomorrow from practice,” Biles said. “I think we might go [get] manis and pedis.”

Video: China stuns Japan in men’s team final on last routine

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.

TOUR DE FRANCE: TV Schedule | Full Standings

“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.

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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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