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Marcel Kittel wins Tour de France stage after Alberto Contador crashes

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Polish rider Maciej Bodnar nearly pulled off an incredible wire-to-wire effort for his first Tour de France stage win. But after 125 miles in the lead, the 32-year-old was caught by the peloton in Stage 11 on Wednesday.

Marcel Kittel won his fifth stage of the Tour in a bunched sprint, after two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and podium contender Jakob Fuglsang both crashed.

Both Fuglsang and Contador regrouped to finish with the peloton, leaving no major shakeups in the overall standings. Chris Froome still leads by 18 seconds over Italian Fabio Aru as the Tour heads into the Pyrenees on Thursday.

Kittel edged Dylan Groenewegen and Edvald Boasson Hagen to become the first cyclist to win five stages in one Tour since Mark Cavendish in 2011. The record in one Tour is eight stages.

There are three more flat stages next week for Kittel to possibly seize in the absence of rivals Cavendish, Peter Sagan and Arnaud Demare, all knocked out of the Tour.

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

Bodnar was part of a breakaway group at the start of the 126-mile stage and was the last man caught, with fewer than 250 meters before the finish. Bodnar, who has never finished in the top 100 overall in 10 Grand Tour starts, was at the lead of the stage for about four and a half hours.

Fuglsang, in fifth place overall at the start of the day, suffered a broken wrist in a crash while one of his Team Astana mates, Dario Cataldo, had to abandon the race.

Later, Contador hit the pavement with about 13 miles left in the flat 126-mile stage. Contador’s hopes of a first Tour podium finish since 2009 were already dim. He entered the day in 12th place and 5 minutes, 15 seconds behind Froome.

Stage 12 on Thursday could be decisive. Riders face five categorized climbs in the Pyrenees over 133 miles. NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 4:50 a.m. ET, with NBCSN coverage at 7.

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

Tokyo Olympic torch relay sets date to resume

Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay
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The Tokyo Olympic torch relay will resume on March 25 and follow its originally planned route and schedule, starting in the Fukushima Prefecture.

Organizers are discussing torch relay modifications given the coronavirus pandemic. Possible changes include the number of officials and staff involved and reducing the size of vehicle convoys.

As it stands, the relay will visit all 47 prefectures of Japan with emphasis on the area affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

With the motto “Hope Lights Our Way,” it will visit the three prefectures most affected by the tsunami and earthquake (Fukushima (March 25-27), Iwate (June 16-18) and Miyagi (June 19-21)) for three days each.

The relay leads up to the Opening Ceremony on July 23.

The torch relay originally began last March 12 in Olympia. The Greek portion of the relay, originally scheduled for eight days, was called off on March 13 due to the pandemic after actor Gerard Butler was among the torch bearers in Sparta.

An unexpectedly large crowd gathered in Sparta despite recommendations to the public not to focus on the ceremony.

The flame remained in Greece until it was flown to Japan as scheduled on March 20.

On March 24, it was announced the Tokyo Games were postponed to 2021. The Japan portion of the torch relay was suspended, too, two days before it was to start.

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2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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