Michael Phelps answers Chad le Clos with world’s top 100m butterfly

Leave a comment

Chad le Clos said Michael Phelps “can keep quiet now” on Saturday. Hours later, Phelps let his swimming do the talking. It spoke loudly.

Just as Phelps did Friday, the 22-time Olympic medalist clocked the fastest time in the world in a butterfly event since 2009 at the U.S. Championships in San Antonio on Saturday night.

Phelps won the 100m butterfly in 50.45 seconds, .11 faster than the South African le Clos’ winning time at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, earlier Saturday.

After his victory, Phelps said he was aware of the 2012 Olympic 200m butterfly champion le Clos’ comments from Russia that could accurately be described as trash talk.

“Let that swim make statements,” Phelps told media of his swim in San Antonio (video here). “Chad’s a good swimmer. You know, you can’t take that away from him. Like I said, I welcome any comment that anyone wants to say. It doesn’t bother me.”

Phelps has uttered those last two sentences before. He’s dealt with similar comments from other swimmers in the past.

Leading up to the 2008 Olympics, Australian Ian Thorpe repeatedly said Phelps would fail if he tried to win a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games. Phelps, as he did after countryman Ian Crocker once beat him in a 100m butterfly in 2003, posted a picture of Thorpe and/or Thorpe’s comments in his locker for motivation. Then he proved Thorpe wrong.

Also in 2008, France’s Alain Bernard said before the Olympic 4x100m freestyle relay of the Americans, “We’re going to smash them. That’s what we came here for.” Phelps and the U.S. upset the French at the Beijing Games, with Jason Lezak running down Bernard in an epic anchor leg.

In 2009, Serbian Milorad Cavic splashed into the controversy of the time about (now-banned) ultra-fast suits, challenging Phelps by saying the American had options other than Speedo to wear for races, insinuating there were better models such as Cavic’s Arena suit.

Phelps, who beat Cavic by .01 the year before at the Beijing Olympics, responded by beating Cavic by .13 in the 2009 World Championships final. Phelps broke the world record that Cavic had set in the semifinals. Phelps’ celebrated by popping and slapping his black Speedo bodysuit.

“It’s happened to me in the past,” Phelps said Saturday. “Thorpe said some stuff. Cavic said some stuff. Go ahead. It’s just going to fuel me. Bernard in the 4x100m free relay. … If you want to do it, go for it. Like I said, I welcome it. I smile at some and get serious at other comments. They are what they are, they’re just comments, and they’re printed on a piece of paper. It has nothing to do with me. Whatever I do in the pool will speak for itself.”

Phelps also made reference Saturday to his original May 15 comments about the 200m butterfly being a slow event.

“I don’t do it to talk trash,” Phelps said. “I do it to state facts, and I know some people went back and checked my facts after I said that stuff about the 200m fly, and I was right. So I know my facts about the sport.”

On Sunday, le Clos back tracked from his previous comments a little, saying he’s not a trash talker and not to classify him in the group of the likes of Cavic.

“I don’t fear Michael Phelps,” he said Sunday. “I never have, and I never will. … If he wants to race tomorrow, I’ll race tomorrow.”

Le Clos and Phelps have not raced since the 2012 Olympics.

Phelps’ longtime rival Laszlo Cseh, who won the 200m butterfly at Worlds, said the Rio Games will be his fourth and final Olympics.

“If there is no Michael, then there is no me,” said Cseh, whose five Olympic medals spread across three Games all came in events won by Phelps. “He is the fastest swimmer. He always [pushes] me to the times I achieve.”

Phelps is scheduled to swim the 200m individual medley in San Antonio on Sunday.

Ledecky completes unprecedented World Championships sweep

NBC Olympic researcher Amanda Doyle contributed to this report from Kazan.

Geraint Thomas cuts Julian Alaphilippe’s Tour de France lead

1 Comment

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.

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce turns back the clock, wins another Diamond League

Leave a comment

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Olympic champions, world-record holder to miss USATF Outdoor Champs