Katie Ledecky
AP

What Bruce Springsteen told Katie Ledecky

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She’s hung out with the Boss.

She’s used the National League MVP as a medal rack.

Olympic champion Katie Ledecky is enjoying quite a victory tour before she heads off to college.

“It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but I’ve also had a lot of fun with it,” said Ledecky, one of the biggest stars of the Rio Games.

On Thursday night, the swimmer attended a Bruce Springsteen concert at Nationals Park in Washington. She was able to meet backstage with the Boss, even getting a picture with each of them holding one of her gold medals.

“I have been listening to Bruce Springsteen music riding in my family’s car throughout my youth, going to early morning practices and to swim meets,” Ledecky said. “I have over 400 Bruce Springsteen songs on my iPod, including recordings of his live performances.”

Her father, David, is a longtime Springsteen fan, attending his first show at Madison Square Garden in 1978. He’s passed on that passion to his 19-year-old daughter, though this was the first time she had been able to attend one of the Boss’ shows.

“A relative of ours surprised us by obtaining tickets,” Ledecky said. “I have never had the opportunity to attend a Springsteen show because of my training and meet schedule, but I finally had a break in my training after the Olympics that coincided with Bruce’s show at Nationals Park.”

Ledecky, who lives with her parents in suburban Washington, also was at Nationals Park the previous week, throwing out the first pitch before a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles.

Bryce Harper, last year’s NL MVP, accompanied Ledecky to the pitching mound, which came in handy when the swimmer decided to shed the five medals – four golds and a silver – she captured in Rio, two of them in world-record times. It was the most successful showing by a female athlete in U.S. Olympic history.

Harper, smiling, patiently draped the hardware over both arms.

“Bryce was a great sport holding the medals,” Ledecky said. “We had a lot of fun with it. And I threw a pretty good pitch.”

Springsteen, who has been playing shows longer than four hours on his current tour, was intrigued to hear about Ledecky’s grueling schedule.

She told him how she “would get up at 4 a.m. and drive to practice with my dad, listening to Springsteen songs, then go to high school, and practice again in the afternoon following school.”

The Boss, Ledecky added, seemed especially thrilled to hold one of her gold medals, “which was nice since he has won several Grammys and an Academy Award.”

“He said, `I always wondered what people do with these medals,”‘ Ledecky recalled. “We laughed when my brother said, `They take them around to show them to rock stars.’ We told him how much his work and music have meant to us, and how much we love him.”

Passing on the chance to cash in on her Olympics success, Ledecky is preparing to head across the country for her freshman year at Stanford. She’s in no hurry to turn professional, saying she believes college will help her develop both as an athlete and as a person. She hasn’t decided on her goals heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but said she will continue to focus on improving in the 100-meter freestyle and may take on the 400 individual medley.

But the longer freestyle events will continue to be her bread and butter. In Rio, she became the first woman since 1968 to win the 200, 400 and 800 free.

“I want to have the college experience,” Ledecky said. “I think that’s going to be a great experience for me. I think that’s going to continue to help me improve both in swimming and in school. I’m excited for the next couple of years and what they have to hold.”

She’s still holding off on getting her driver’s license, even though she’ll be living in car-crazy California.

“I will be riding a bike around campus,” Ledecky said. “That should be good.”

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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.”

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