Peter Sagan wins Tour de France Stage 3 despite pedal problem (video)

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Peter Sagan came unclipped as he accelerated toward the uphill Tour de France Stage 3 finish. That only compounded the pressure on the pre-stage favorite.

Did it affect the showman Slovakian?

“What is pressure?” Sagan said afterward with a laugh. “I don’t know.”

Sagan, winner of the sprinters’ green jersey at the last five Tours, notched his first stage victory of this year’s Tour de France on Monday.

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider emerged from a bunched uphill sprint after a 132-mile stage that began in Belgium, crossed through Luxembourg and into northeastern France.

Sagan took the lead in the final half-mile and held on despite briefly coming off one of his pedals.

Australian Michael Matthews was second in the same time, followed by Ireland’s Dan Martin.

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Sagan, now with eight career Tour stage victories at age 27, could very well win several stages in this year’s Tour. But his focus is likely on matching German Erik Zabel‘s record of six sprinters’ titles.

He moved from 15th to third place in the green jersey standings with a 50-point prize for the stage win. Sagan is 16 points behind German Marcel Kittel, the Stage 2 winner and runner-up to Sagan in the 2016 sprinter standings.

Also Monday, Great Britain’s Geraint Thomas retained the yellow jersey as the race leader.

Thomas’ Team Sky mate Chris Froome is still the highest-placed rider eyeing the overall title in three weeks in Paris. Froome, trying to win the Tour for the fourth time in five years, moved from sixth place to second overall, remaining 12 seconds behind Thomas.

American Taylor Phinney gave up the polka-dot jersey for King of the Mountains to countryman and Cannondale–Drapac teammate Nate Brown.

Tuesday’s Stage 4 is a flat, 129-mile trek south from Luxembourg into France. An expected bunch sprint finish should include Germans and Andre Greipel and Kittel as well as Brit Mark Cavendish seeking his 31st career Tour stage win.

NBC Sports Gold‘s live coverage starts at 6:10 a.m. ET. NBCSN coverage starts at 7:30.

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

Stage 3
1. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 5:07:19
2. Michael Matthews (AUS) — +:00
3. Dan Martin (IRL) — +:00
4. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) — :00
5. Alberto Bettiol (ITA) — +:02

General Classification
1. Geraint Thomas (GBR) — 10:00:31
2. Chris Froome (GBR) — +:12
3. Michael Matthews (AUS) — +:12
4. Peter Sagan (SVK) — +13
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) — +16

Peter Sagan

World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

AP
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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