Richie Porte crashes out of Tour de France

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CHAMBERY, France (AP) — Chris Froome fiercely defended — and even extended — the overall lead in the Tour de France on an ultra-tough day of high drama and punishing climbs in eastern France’s Jura mountains on Sunday, seeing both his top teammate and one of his top rivals crash out and surviving daredevil descents at speeds exceeding 70 kilometers (45 miles) per hour.

Getting through Sunday’s Stage 9 unscathed, arguably the toughest of this Tour’s 21 stages, marked a crucial step in the three-time champion’s campaign for a fourth win. The last descent of the day with seven climbs saw a terrifying high-speed crash involving Richie Porte, who had been fifth overall but is now out of the race.

Porte missed a left-hand bend, cartwheeled across the road and bowled over another rider, Dan Martin, before slamming into a stony, vine-covered bank. The Australian was first treated by medics as he lay on the tarmac and then taken away, conscious, in an ambulance to hospital.

Also crashing out was Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas, who had held the overall lead for the first four days of the Tour.

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Froome placed third in the stage, narrowly beaten in a final sprint by Colombian Rigoberto Uran at the finish in Chambery, in the Alps. French rider Warren Barguil was just millimeters behind in second place — so close that he burst into tears thinking he had won, only to discover moments later that he hadn’t.

Uran thought Barguil had beaten him to the line.

“They told me I had won but I was convinced Warren had won it,” he said.

For his third place, Froome was awarded four bonus seconds that allowed him to consolidate his overall lead. With Thomas, who had been in second place, now out, Italian Fabio Aru climbed to the second spot in the overall rankings — 18 seconds behind Froome overall.

Monday is the race’s first rest day. The Tour returns Tuesday with Stage 10.

NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 7:05 a.m. ET. NBCSN’s coverage starts at 8 a.m.

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

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Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Mikaela Shiffrin, with 66th World Cup win, moves one shy of career dream

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Mikaela Shiffrin has said one of her career dreams is to win in every discipline in one season. She is now one victory shy of realizing it.

Shiffrin earned her 66th World Cup victory — and her second in three days — at a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

She prevailed by .29 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino and .70 over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Gut-Behrami, the last skier other than Shiffrin to win a World Cup overall title back in 2016, earned her first podium in exactly one year.

Full results are here.

“Perfect weekend for me,” said Shiffrin, who moved one shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for third place on the World Cup career wins list. “The whole team is excited about the whole weekend, but especially today.”

She is en route to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. And she is a combined victory away from wins in all five disciplines in one season. Only Marc GirardelliPetra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze have done it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of right now is that I know how to win in slalom, [giant slalom], super-G and downhill, which I never expected that would really happen,” she said.

Shiffrin struggled with confidence during a winless stretch in early January, trying not to compare herself to last season, when she won a record 17 times. She still leads the men’s and women’s tours with six victories this season, a little more than halfway through.

“Every race is such a big fight, and I haven’t been the one on top of this fight every time,” she said. “Certainly I’ve been like sometimes the expectations that I have or that other people might have, I’m not quite living up to that. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing sometimes, even though this is still just an incredible season.”

There are two combined races left this season for Shiffrin to achieve the dream — Feb. 23 in Switzerland and March 1 in Italy. While combined — mixing a speed run and a technical run — might seem perfect for Shiffrin, she has one victory in four starts in the discipline between the World Cup and Olympics.

And Shiffrin is careful about her race schedule. She is undecided on entering a downhill and super-G next weekend at the 2014 Olympic venue in Russia.

“After this weekend my brain is a little bit dead,” she joked.

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