Chris Froome runs up Mont Ventoux after Tour de France crash (video)

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MONT VENTOUX, France (AP) — Chris Froome was allowed to keep the yellow jersey after the Tour de France race jury ruled he crashed and lost his bike in unfair circumstances during a wacky conclusion to the 12th stage on Thursday.

“Ventoux is full of surprises. … I’m very happy with the jury’s decision,” Froome said.

In a complete embarrassment for race organizers on Bastille Day, Richie Porte crashed headfirst into a motorbike carrying a TV camera and Froome, who was right behind his former teammate, also hit the pavement in the final kilometer on the wind-shortened climb to Mont Ventoux.

The motorbike appeared to have stopped because fans blocked its path.

“We took an exceptional decision because of this exceptional situation, an incident that might have never happened before in 100 years,” said Tour director Christian Prudhomme, explaining that the wind prevented organizers from erecting the usual barriers at the end of most stages.

“There will be an investigation to find out why the TV motorbike was blocked and the riders fell,” Prudhomme added.

Froome threw his mangled bike aside and began running up the road. He eventually was given a small yellow race assistance bike before his team car was finally able to provide him with a suitable substitute.

“I told myself, ‘I don’t have a bike and my car is five minutes behind with another bike, it’s too far away, I’m going to run a bit,'” Froome told French TV.

All of Froome’s main rivals crossed ahead of him, and Froome shook his head in disbelief when he finally reached the finish.

As Froome ran through the crowds he attempted to communicate with his team via radio but the crowds prevented the Team Sky car from reaching him.

“It was a nightmare,” Sky sports director Nicolas Portal said. “It took up to two minutes for him to get a spare bike but the pedals did not suit him. … I can’t understand how so many people were allowed there. It was mayhem.”

Froome, who is seeking his third Tour title in four years, did not come to the post-stage news conference.

Before the crash, Froome dropped most of his rivals apart from Porte and Bauke Mollema.

“Decision by the commissaires panel: Chris Froome and Richie Porte have been given the same (stage) time as Bauke Mollema due to the incident in the finale. Froome retains the yellow jersey,” the Tour website said.

Froome increased his overall lead to 47 seconds ahead of fellow British rider Adam Yates.

Two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana was third, 54 seconds behind, and Mollema moved up to fourth, 56 seconds back.

“I wouldn’t want to take the jersey like this. I’m happy with the decision,” said Yates, who was initially given the race leadership according to preliminary results. “(Froome) is the rightful owner of the yellow jersey.

“If anyone was in the same situation they would feel the same. Nobody wants to take the yellow jersey like that. You want to take it with your legs. There’s not many sports where the fans can get this close to the athletes like this. It is what it is.”

Thomas De Gendt won the stage after getting into an early breakaway and easily sprinting past fellow Belgian Serge Pauwels on the steep slopes of Ventoux.

“There were too many people in the last kilometer,” De Gendt said. “There was not even a place for one motorbike. They should do something about it.”

With the wind at 125 kph (nearly 80 mph) on top of the “Giant of Provence,” organizers moved the finish line six kilometers (3 1/2 miles) down the road to the Chalet Reynard.

It was still a grueling 10-kilometer (six-mile) climb featuring several sections with gradients exceeding 10 percent.

The 178-kilometer (111-mile) leg began in Montpellier near the Mediterranean coast, passed by the 15th-century Chateau of Tarascon, and scaled the hilltop village of Gordes.

It was De Gendt’s first career stage win in the Tour. He finished third in the 2012 Giro d’Italia.

Froome was the stage winner when the Tour previously scaled Ventoux’s barren, 1,909-meter (6,263-foot) peak in 2013.

Ventoux was also the site of an epic contest between Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani in 2000, and where British rider Tom Simpson died in 1967 from a combination of amphetamines and alcohol.

Now, another memorable chapter has been added to Ventoux lore.

The race’s first time trial comes on Friday with a hilly 37.5-kilometer (23-mile) leg from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont-D’Arc, where Froome will again be favored to add to his lead.

MORE: Froome eyes two Olympic races in Rio

Alex Zanardi, auto racer turned Paralympic champion, has 5-hour surgery to rebuild face after crash

Alex Zanardi
AP
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SIENA, Italy (AP) — Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi underwent a five-hour surgery Monday to reconstruct his face following a crash on his handbike last month.

It was the third major operation that Zanardi has had since he crashed into an oncoming truck near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19 during a relay event.

Dr. Paolo Gennaro of Santa Maria alle Scotte Hospital in Siena said the operation required three-dimensional digital and computerized technology that was “made to measure” for Zanardi.

“The complexity of the case was fairly unique, although this is a type of fracture that we deal with routinely,” Gennaro said in a hospital statement.

After the surgery, Zanardi was returned to the intensive care unit in a medically induced coma.

“His condition remains stable in terms of his cardio-respiratory status and grave in terms of his neurological status,” the hospital medical bulletin read.

The 53-year-old Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, has been on a ventilator since the crash.

Zanardi suffered serious facial and cranial trauma, and doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

Zanardi won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.

Last month, Pope Francis penned a handwritten letter of encouragement assuring Zanardi and his family of his prayers. The pope praised Zanardi as an example of strength amid adversity.

Shawn Johnson East shares struggles with body image, prescription drugs

Shawn Johnson
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Shawn Johnson East, a 2008 Olympic gymnastics champion, detailed past struggles with body image and prescription drugs and reflected on her eating disorder as an elite athlete, to show there is hope to others in difficult situations.

“It all started with pregnancy and having my daughter,” East, who had daughter Drew in October, said on TODAY on Monday. “I had so many people asking me questions about how did pregnancy affect you mentally and how did you get your body back after having your daughter. I couldn’t answer that without giving a greater and a larger story.”

East first went public about her undiagnosed teenage eating disorders in 2015, three years after retiring from the sport. She said she limited herself to 700 calories per day and didn’t tell her parents.

In a June YouTube video, Johnson said she also binged and purged, including while dating future husband Andrew in the mid-2010s. And that she had depression and anxiety in 2011, when she returned to competition for the first time since the Beijing Games.

“I thought it would fix all of my problems,” East said of returning to gymnastics for a 2012 Olympic bid.

When East won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009, she “hit a very low spot” going through puberty on national TV. She said she gained 15 pounds after the 2008 Olympics and started taking medications and drugs “to look like I did at the Olympics.” It included fad diets, diuretics and a three-week stretch of eating nothing but raw vegetables.

“Most pain of my entire life because I couldn’t digest anything,” she said.

At some point in 2011, East began feeling burned out. She was back to eating too few calories and overtraining. An unnamed USA Gymnastics doctor prescribed her Adderall “to lose more weight, have more energy and be more successful in gymnastics.” She took “heavy doses.”

“It helped my performances, but there were massive consequences to it,” she said. “I continued to compete into 2012, where I just started to get depressed.

“I was overdosing on Adderall. I was overdosing on any medication that wouldn’t be caught by USADA.”

Adderall was a banned substance in competition without a therapeutic use exemption, but was legal outside of competition.

“I was so controlled by other people’s opinions that I wouldn’t live up to that Olympic standard that I did anything to get it back and I could never have it back,” East said. “I didn’t learn that until later on.”

East’s mental hurdles re-emerged when she had a miscarriage in 2017. She blamed herself, believing her unhealthy lifestyle in the past was a contributor.

“Our natural inclination is to say, what did I do? And what did I do wrong?” she said. “It haunted me. I felt like I had sacrificed everything for an Olympic medal to not actually get the dream I had wanted my entire life [to have a child].”

With the help of a nutritionist and therapist and her husband, she conquered the demons through her 2019 pregnancy and childbirth.

“Having gone through a whole pregnancy and knowing that I felt confident through the whole thing, I feel like I’ve climbed Everest,” she said.

MORE: Why Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson went 8 years without talking

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