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Allyson Felix-Caster Semenya clash unlikely for world championships

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Don’t expect to see Allyson Felix and Caster Semenya go head-to-head at the world championships this summer.

The Olympic 800m champion Semenya is “pretty much focusing” on the 800m this season “at this stage,” her coach, Jean Verster, said Monday.

“We’ll see later on in the season because we are planning to hopefully run a few other distances if possible [before worlds in August],” Verster said by phone. “Maybe just a few 400s and a couple of 1500s. We’ll see how it goes, but at this stage the focus is purely on the 800m [for worlds].”

Semenya talked last July of entering both the 400m and 800m in Rio, but she ended up racing solely the 800m at her first Olympics. Semenya easily won gold in 1:55.28, a national record.

Three weeks after the Olympics, Semenya lowered her 400m personal best to 50.40 seconds in the Diamond League season finale in September. She came from behind to beat the Olympic third- and fourth-place finishers.

Neither Olympic gold medalist Shaunae Miller (49.44 in Rio) nor silver medalist Felix (49.51) was in that race.

Semenya has already raced the 400m at two meets this season, clocking 51.60 and 51.84, comparable to her times at the same April meets last year. She ranks No. 9 in the world for 2017.

Then last Friday, Semenya dominated the Diamond League season-opening 800m in 1:56.61. Semenya has never run faster before the month of July. She is entered in the Prefontaine Classic 800m on May 27, her first race in the U.S. since 2011.

Verster said Semenya was behind schedule compared to last year due to off-track commitments.

“Seeing this year as a fun year and not as much pressure as last year with the Olympics,” he said. “At this stage we kind of catch up a little bit in terms of the training. In that sense, we were extremely happy with the way we started in Doha.”

Neither Miller nor Felix has raced a 400m since Rio.

Miller has said she plans to race the 200m and 400m at worlds in London in August.

Felix has a bye into the worlds 400m as defending world champion and plans to race the shorter sprints at the U.S. Championships next month. It hasn’t been decided if Felix hopes to double at worlds.

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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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