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Katie Ledecky posts fastest time of 2017 to open Atlanta meet

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Katie Ledecky continued to distance herself from the world in the freestyle distance events, posting the fastest time of the year in the 400m freestyle in Atlanta on Friday.

The four-time Rio Olympic champion clocked 4:00.98 at Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, site of the 1996 Olympic swimming competition. She won by a comfortable 7.46 seconds over Joanna Evans.

Full meet results are here.

Ledecky was close to her pool record of 4:00.31, set at the Atlanta meet one year ago. She came into the meet with the fastest time in the world this year of 4:01.01 from last month.

She looks to be in strong form coming off her freshman season at Stanford and going into the U.S. Championships in June, where the top two per event qualify for the world championships in July.

Ledecky also finished fifth in the 100m freestyle on Friday, 15 minutes before her 400m final. Stanford teammate and co-Olympic champion Simone Manuel won the 100m free in 53.82. Ledecky touched in 54.69.

The 100m free was billed as a showdown between Manuel and Canadian Penny Oleksiak, whom Manuel tied in Rio. But Oleksiak was a late scratch from the entire meet Friday due to family reasons, according to CBC.

The Atlanta meet continues Saturday and Sunday with finals from 7-8:30 p.m. ET, streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. NBCSN will also air live coverage Saturday.

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Richie Porte crashes out of Tour de France again

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Australian Richie Porte crashed out of the Tour de France on the ninth stage for a second straight year, suffering a fractured right clavicle six miles into Sunday’s stage.

“Obviously I’m devastated,” Porte said, according to Team BMC. “For the second year in a row I am ending the Tour de France like this. I was on the ground before I knew it, and straight away felt pain in my right shoulder.”

Porte, who finished fifth in the 2016 Tour de France and was an overall podium contender these last two years, was seen sitting on the side of the road, gritting his teeth and crossing his right arm over his chest.

There was a mass stoppage of riders, with at least one spectator down on the side of the narrow road. The crash came well before the Tour stage was to hit 15 arduous cobblestone sections totaling 13 miles.

Porte was in 10th place after eight stages, 57 seconds behind race leader and BMC teammate Greg Van Avermaet. Avermaet and American Tejay van Garderen, in third place, were expected to work for Porte in the mountains later this week, hoping to put him in the yellow jersey.

Now, Van Garderen is in line to be the team leader.

In 2017, Porte fractured his clavicle and pelvis on a ninth-stage crash on a descent and had to abandon the Tour.

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Chris Froome, other stars crash on Tour de France cobblestones stage

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Richie PorteTejay van GarderenRigoberto UranMikel Landa. Even Chris Froome.

Stage nine of the Tour de France promised to rattle the top riders, and the 15 sections of cobblestones totaling 13 miles delivered just that. All of the named men crashed on Sunday, with Porte abandoning the Grand Tour altogether (albeit he crashed before the first cobbles section, six miles into the stage).

In the end, German John Degenkolb got the stage win ahead of overall race leader Greg Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert.

Van Avermaet, the Olympic road race champion from Belgium, retained the yellow jersey for a sixth straight day, extending his lead to 43 seconds over Brit Geraint Thomas. Van Avermaet rides for Team BMC, which lost its team leader in Porte.

American van Garderen presumably became the new team leader, but he crashed later in the stage and also suffered three flat tires.

Van Garderen entered the day third in the overall standings, nine seconds behind Van Avermaet. He ended it in 30th place, 6:05 behind Van Avermaet.

The best-placed favorite to finish on the podium in Paris on July 29 is now the four-time Tour winner Froome, in eighth place, 1:42 behind Van Avermaet. Froome is trying to tie the record of five Tour titles shared by Jacques AnquetilEddy MerckxBernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

The Tour takes its first of two rest days Monday, resuming with the first day in the Alps on Tuesday live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here). Stage 10 features a beyond-category climb and three category-one climbs.

“I’m relieved to get through today and looking forward to getting into the mountains now where the real race for GC (general classification) will start,” Froome said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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