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Chris Froome regains Tour de France lead over Fabio Aru

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Chris Froome retook the Tour de France overall lead from Fabio Aru as Australian Michael Matthews won Stage 14 on Saturday.

Froome, eyeing his fourth Tour title, finished seventh in Saturday’s stage, one second behind Matthews. Aru was 30th, 26 seconds behind Matthews.

The top 30 or 40 riders finished in a group strung out enough that Tour organizers counted time gaps rather than giving all cyclists in the peloton the same time.

Froome came into the day six seconds behind Aru after ceding the lead to the Italian on Thursday. Now, he leads by 19 seconds over Aru with seven stages remaining.

The top four in the overall standings are separated by 29 seconds. It has turned into the tightest yellow jersey battle in Tour history.

“It’s still so close between the main rivals,” Froome said. “Every second here is worth really fighting for. … I expect it’s going to be a war again tomorrow.”

Froome has an advantage over the 2015 Vuelta a Espana winner Aru in his supporting cast. Team Sky is clearly stronger than Aru’s Astana, which is lacking star Jakob Fuglsang, who abandoned Friday due to a broken wrist.

TOUR: Results/Standings | Highlights | Broadcast Schedule

  1. Chris Froome (GBR) — 59:52:09
  2. Fabio Aru (ITA) — +:19
  3. Romain Bardet (FRA) — +:23
  4. Rigoberto Uran (COL) — +:29
  5. Mikel Landa (ESP) — +1:17

Sunday’s Stage 15 is 118 miles with four categorized climbs, but none of the most difficult variety.

NBC Sports Gold coverage starts 6:55 a.m. ET, with NBCSN coming on air at 7.

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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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