Allyson Felix
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Michael Johnson urges Allyson Felix to double at Rio Olympics

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NEW YORK — Michael Johnson said he had not chatted with Allyson Felix about a potential 200m-400m double at the Rio Olympics, speaking on a red carpet before the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame induction at the Armory on Thursday night.

Two hours later, Felix introduced Johnson, who swept the 200m and 400m at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics as part of a highly decorated career, to receive a Legacy Award at the black tie and sneakers ceremony.

In the following six-minute speech, Johnson reflected on knowing track was his calling at age 10, how much he enjoys even talking about track and field since his 2000 retirement and thanked, among others, two athletes whom he considers heroes — 1968 Olympic 200m champion Tommie Smith and two-time Olympic heptathlon champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

“Lastly,” Johnson said to USA Track and Field royalty (video here at 2:45), “Allyson, you have to double next year. No pressure, but you’ve got to double next year, because that is something, as a true track fan, that I want to see. Thank you, thank you all.”

Last we left Felix, the Olympic 200m champion captured her first World title in the 400m in a personal-best 49.26 seconds, coming back from being carried off the track by brother Wes after tearing her right hamstring in the 2013 Worlds 200m final.

Felix, 29, opted not to race the 200m at this year’s World Championships because the 200m semifinals and the 400m final were about one hour apart on the same night, Aug. 27. Felix, a three-time World champion in the 200m, chose the 400m over the 200m at Worlds because she considered it a greater challenge.

The Rio Olympic schedule currently has the 200m first round and the 400m final about an hour apart. Slightly less demanding than Worlds, but still not ideal enough for Felix to say she will definitely attempt to race both the 200m and 400m at the Games, as Johnson did 20 years prior.

For 1996, the original Olympic schedule called for the men’s 200m semifinals and 400m final on the same day. Johnson reportedly said then that he would have chosen one individual race if the Atlanta 1996 schedule remained that way.

Johnson said he lobbied for the schedule to be changed in 1995, to no avail, and then helped his case by sweeping the 200m and 400m at the 1995 World Championships, with a schedule more conducive to the double.

The Atlanta Olympic track and field schedule was then revised in March 1996, allowing Johnson a full day of rest between the 400m final and the start of the 200m rounds. Johnson, in golden shoes, went on to become the first man to sweep the 200m and 400m at an Olympics.

Johnson, now a track and field analyst for the BBC, said it would be fantastic for the sport if the Rio Olympic schedule would be altered to give Felix a day off between the 400m and 200m.

“I would love to see it, and I think she’s more than capable,” he said. “It would bring something special to the Games.”

In July, Felix said that her longtime coach, Bob Kersee, would be “voicing his opinion” by “talking to whoever he needs to talk to” hoping to change the Rio Olympic track and field schedule.

On Thursday, Felix confirmed that talks are happening but didn’t know specifically with whom Kersee was speaking.

“He’s meeting again this coming week, so he’s going to give me an update on where things are,” said Felix, who recently returned from a Mozambique trip with Right to Play. “I’m just going to let him take control of the entire situation and see what happens.”

Is she confident?

“I guess I wouldn’t say I’m confident because I have no idea really,” she said. “I feel like it could definitely go either way. I think I’m more just hoping for the opportunity.”

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said before the World Championships in August that the Rio track and field schedule could be changed under “a special case.”

If the Olympic schedule remains as is, would Felix still consider trying to race both the 200m and 400m?

“Right now I don’t see why I would do them both,” Felix said. “I feel like if the schedule’s not going to change, I would take time to focus on one or the other, but that’s something I’d have to think about.”

At Worlds, Felix said she will plan to race the 200m at the Olympics for a fourth straight time if she sticks to one individual event. That is no longer the case, Felix said Thursday.

“The 200’s my favorite, clearly, but that’s not to say that I wouldn’t run the 400,” she said. Felix, who raced the 100m and 200m at the London Olympics, hasn’t raced the 400m at the Games outside of relays. “I haven’t ruled anything out if the schedule’s not changed.”

So that’s where Felix stands heading into 2016. She has said she may race in the winter indoor season, which concludes with the World Indoor Championships from March 17-20.

If not, we may not see the most decorated U.S. female track and field athlete in history compete until the spring. If 1996 is any indication, the Olympic schedule could look different by then.

“It’s a political situation,” Johnson said of the talks. “It takes you, as an athlete, outside of your normal zone of competing and getting results.”

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Five memorable shoe malfunctions

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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TOUR DE FRANCE: TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage | Favorites, Predictions

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.”

MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

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