Ryan Lochte painfully beaten in Austin; Katie Ledecky wins

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Ryan Lochte entered what they call the “decathlon of swimming” in competition Friday for the first time in 20 months.

It did not go well.

“I forgot how bad that event hurts,” Lochte told reporters at the Pro Swim Series in Austin, Texas. “Right after the fly [the first 100 meters], I was like, I’m already in pain.”

Lochte, the Olympic champion in the event, finished in third place. He clocked 4 minutes, 18.68 seconds, which was 2.6 seconds behind winner Josh Prenot. (full meet results here)

Lochte was 13.5 seconds slower on Friday than he was in the London Olympic final, which isn’t shocking given swimmers don’t train to peak in January.

Lochte was also seven seconds slower than in his last 400m IM in competition, at the 2013 Santa Clara Grand Prix. In fact, that was Lochte’s only 400m IM since the London Olympics before Friday.

Since 2012, Lochte has been off-and-on about whether he will try to swim the 400m IM at the 2016 Olympics. He said in interviews shortly after the London Olympics that he couldn’t do longer-distance events in 2016 because of his age (he is older than Michael Phelps and will turn 32 two days before the Opening Ceremony).

Those comments were reminiscent of Phelps’ comments after the 2008 Olympics, when he ruled out the 400m IM entirely. Of course, Phelps went back on his word and swam the 400m IM in London, placing fourth.

Lochte opted not to swim the 400m IM at the 2013 and 2014 U.S. Championships. Instead, he swam a different event on the same day as the 400m IM at both meets — the 100m butterfly, which he’s never competed at an Olympics and is a Phelps trademark event.

Now, Lochte is already saying he will “definitely” swim the 400m IM at the next Pro Swim Series event in Orlando in February (coincidentally, he aggravated a knee injury in Orlando last February, setting him up for an injury-hampered season, perhaps a big reason why he didn’t swim the 400m IM, and, at the Pan Pacific Championships in August, his worst performance at a major international meet since 2006).

Phelps, who is suspended into April, has said in his comeback that he will not swim the 400m IM (again).

“It’s probably the hardest event in swimming, besides the mile,” Lochte said of the 400m IM on Friday. “I just started training like a week and a half ago. This meet is like a training meet. … Getting my butt kicked is always a good thing.”

In other events Friday, Katie Ledecky won the 200m freestyle in 1:56.16, which was one second slower than her personal best set at the 2014 U.S. Championships. Again, not bad at all for a January meet. Ledecky also swept the 100m and 400m frees Thursday.

The world’s best all-around swimmer, Katinka Hosszu, was surprisingly off Friday. She finished third in the 400m IM, where she is the reigning World champion. U.S. Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel beat Hosszu by 3.22 seconds there.

Hosszu, a Hungarian, was also sixth in the 200m backstroke, won by Dominique Bouchard by .07 over Beisel.

Conor Dwyer, who isn’t swimming for North Baltimore Aquatic Club in Austin, won the men’s 200m free. Ryan Murphy beat Olympic 100m back champion Matt Grevers in the men’s 200m back.

Brazil’s Bruno Fratus outdueled the U.S.’ best sprinters — Nathan Adrian, Anthony Ervin, Cullen Jones and Jimmy Feigen — to win the 50m free.

The meet concludes Saturday.

Katie Ledecky and the 100m freestyle


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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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.”

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