Can Tour de France stars contend for medals at 2016 Olympics?

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It’s a conundrum every four years. Can the world’s top road cyclists endure the grueling, three-week Tour de France and come back not only to compete, but also contend for medals in the Olympics in the same summer?

Great Britain’s Chris Froome did just that three years ago.

He finished second to countryman Bradley Wiggins at the Tour and, six days after the ceremonial ride into Paris, joined Wiggins for the London Olympic road race.

Froome finished 109th in a failed team bid to have Mark Cavendish win Great Britain’s first home gold of the Games) but took bronze in the time trial four days later, behind gold medalist Wiggins.

Of course, Wiggins, Froome and Cavendish were all keen on the Tour-Olympic double because of the opportunity to compete in a home Olympics.

Since professional cyclists competed in the Olympics for the first time in 1996, the single reigning Tour de France winner not to compete in the Olympics was Lance Armstrong in 2004. During that Tour, Armstrong said he declined an invitation to compete in the Athens Olympics, where the time trial was three weeks after the Tour de France finish, to spend time with his children.

Will Froome ride the Tour and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016? The 2016 Tour will end July 24, and the Olympic Opening Ceremony is Aug. 5, adding a week more in between than in 2012.

There haven’t been many reports of Froome commenting on the Rio Games.

“One-day racing is always a bit of a lottery,” Froome said in 2014, according to Sky Sports. “I’m yet to get a big result in a one-day race, but if the right course came around and it was a really hilly circuit, it is something I could attack and go for. I’m quietly hoping that the Rio [2016] course would be a bit like that.”

The Rio Olympic road race and time trial courses, unveiled in December, do include climbs.

“Rio could very well develop into a really serious goal for me,” Froome said in 2013, according to Sky Sports. “It’s certainly something which would be a driving force in the back of my mind over the next few months.”

Nairo Quintana, Tour runner-up to Froome for the second time in three years, was not on the Colombian Olympic team as a 22-year-old in 2012, before his Grand Tour debut.

The 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali placed fourth this year. The 30-year-old Italian competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics with a top finish of 14th in the Beijing time trial.

“I’ve had a look and it seems to be a tough course, difficult and suitable to my characteristics,” Nibali said in December, according to Italian comments in Gazzetta dello Sport translated by Cyclingnews.com. “We will see, there is still a year and a half, but I’d like to be a leader.”

Spain’s Alberto Contador finished fifth in the Tour de France, failing in a bid to hold all three Grand Tour titles at once. He finished fourth in the 2008 Olympic time trial and missed the 2012 Olympics due to a doping ban.

“For next year I plan my season similar to that of 2014 — to enjoy the start of the season in top shape and to do the Tour and then the Olympics,” he said, according to a Cyclingnews.com article published Saturday. “I think that next year’s Olympics is hard and as such can adapt to my style, which doesn’t happen often.”

Wiggins, 35, has turned his focus back to track cycling, where he won the first six of his seven Olympic medals over four Games. If Wiggins makes it to Rio and wins one medal, he will become the most decorated British Olympian ever.

Cavendish, a sprinter with 26 Tour de France stage wins, cast doubt in January that he can compete at the Rio Olympics.

“I want to do the Olympics, but it’s hard,” the 30-year-old said, according to the BBC. “I can’t do it on the road, can’t do it in the time trial, and on the track there’s just no way to qualify without quitting the road.”

Lance Armstrong rides Tour de France route: ‘still some hurt feelings’

Svetlana Romashina, seven-time Olympic champion artistic swimmer, retires

Svetlana Romashina
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Russian Svetlana Romashina, the most decorated artistic swimmer in Olympic history with seven gold medals, announced her retirement at age 33.

Romashina entered seven Olympic artistic swimming events and won all of them, starting in 2008. She won four Olympic titles in the team event and three in the duet (two with Nataliya Ishchenko and one with Svetlana Kolesnichenko).

The Tokyo Games marked her last major competition.

Romashina is the only woman to go undefeated in her Olympic career while entering seven or more events. The only man to do so was American track and field athlete Ray Ewry, who won all eight of his Olympic starts from 1900-08, according to Olympedia.org.

Romashina also won 21 world championships medals — all gold, second in aquatics history behind Michael Phelps‘ 26.

She took nearly two years off after giving birth to daughter Alexandra in November 2017, then came back to win three golds at her last world championships in 2019 and two golds at her last Olympics in 2021.

Romashina is now an artistic swimming coach, according to Russian media.

Russian swimmers swept the Olympic duet and team titles at each of the last six Olympics.

Russians have been banned from international competition since March due to the war in Ukraine.

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Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

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Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races. At the Olympics, she skied out within the first 13 seconds in each instance. On Monday, she was more than 40 seconds into her run.

“I was thinking, now I’m going to go through the mixed zone. and everyone’s going to ask, ‘Oh, is this Beijing again?'” Shiffrin said. “I didn’t really think about that for myself, but more for the people asking. But I also said before, coming into this world champs multiple times, I’m not afraid if it happens again. What if I don’t finish every run? What happened last year, and I survived. And then I’ve had some pretty amazing races this season. So I would take the season that I’ve had with no medals at the world championships. If it’s either/or, then I would take that. I’m happy with it. But I’m going to be pushing for medals, because that’s what you do at world champs. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and you go for it. I’m not afraid of the consequences, as long as I have that mentality, which I had today.”

NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said what happened Monday was “completely different” from the Olympics, calling it “an error of aggression.”

“It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out,” Porino said on the Peacock broadcast. “This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

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