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Michael Phelps’ influence out of pool impacts Olympic Trials results

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Michael Phelps wasn’t competing on opening night of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials. Still, the 18-time gold medalist’s influence impacted the results in the 400-meter individual medley, an event he once dominated.

With a proud Phelps looking on, his training partner Chase Kalisz (KAY-lish) won the final Sunday night, becoming the first swimmer to make the team for the Rio Games. Kalisz overtook defending Olympic champion Ryan Lochte for the lead on the breaststroke leg and went on to win in 4 minutes, 9.54 seconds.

Kalisz has admired Phelps since they both swam at North Baltimore Aquatic Club under coach Bob Bowman. Back then, Kalisz was a pesky kid and Phelps was already an Olympic champion. Kalisz and his teammates would twirl the spinners on the wheels of Phelps’ tricked-out Escalade in the parking lot at a local meet when the superstar swimmer wasn’t around.

“He would come out and catch us all and set off his car alarm, and we would freak out and run,” Kalisz recalled.

He and his co-conspirators wheedled multiple autographs out of Phelps which they traded for T-shirts from other swim teams.

“He’s a brother to me,” said Phelps, who at 30 is eight years older than Kalisz.

The relationship has flourished in the Arizona desert, where Phelps moved to continue training with Bowman, who became head coach at Arizona State last year. Kalisz took a year off of school at Georgia to join them in pursuit of his first Olympics.

Phelps is attempting to swim at his fifth and last Olympics. He was a two-time gold medalist in the 400 IM before finishing fourth in the London Games four years ago. He’s dropped the grueling event from his program, so seeing Kalisz win the race and keep it in the NABC family moved him to tears in the stands.

“I know Chase is very determined,” Phelps said. “I’ve watched him, I train with him every day, and the kid works his butt off.”

Phelps’ future retirement plans include becoming a volunteer assistant under Bowman at ASU. He’s testing his coaching skills on Kalisz, and sometimes it gets a little rough.

“When Michael gets on you, it’s pretty severe,” Bowman said. “It’s kind of nonstop for a while. When I do, it’s like a nuclear bomb got dropped on your head for about 2 1/2 minutes, but after that it’s over. Michael kind of keeps it going.”

Kalisz considers himself lucky to have Phelps, whom he describes as “the greatest swimmer of all time,” and Bowman giving tips.

“I’m very hard on him,” Phelps said. “There was a time when he actually asked Bob if I could back off a little bit. I just see potential and I want him to be the best he can be. He made some incredible improvements this year.”

It paid off during the first race at trials in front of a raucous, sold-out crowd at CenturyLink Center.

Kalisz was third through the opening 150 meters before moving up to second behind Lochte, who later said he pulled his groin in the morning preliminaries. Just as he did in prelims, Kalisz overtook Lochte on the breaststroke leg and stayed in front to the finish.

“I don’t have a fly and backstroke like him, so I got to play to my strengths,” Kalisz said. “I knew what I needed to do was build the first 50 breaststroke, like I talked to Michael and Bob about, and just hammer it as hard as I can coming home on the 150.”

Phelps found his way to Kalisz after the race and conveyed his pride.

“That was just a very emotional moment,” Kalisz said. “Michael has been like an older brother to me that I never had. He’s been the one guy that I’ve looked up to my entire life. I’ve never had a role model as big as him.”

Phelps watched the race from the media section, where he provided commentary for NBC. He touted unknown Jay Litherland as someone to watch over the last 100 meters, and it turns out the winningest Olympian in history was right.

Litherland finished second in 4:11.02 and claimed the other berth for Rio.

“He trained with us a little bit in Colorado when we were up there at altitude,” Phelps said. “The kid can swim. He closes races really well.”

MORE: For Phelps at Trials, nothing is a lock

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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