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Chris Froome holds on to yellow jersey after Tour de France Stage 15

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LE PUY-EN-VELAY, France (AP) — Chris Froome fought back from a bike breakdown to cling onto his race leader’s yellow jersey on the tricky Stage 15 of the Tour de France, won Sunday with a courageous solo breakaway by Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands.

The back wheel of three-time Tour champion Froome broke at the worst possible time, just as the AG2R team of close rival Romain Bardet was picking up the pace ahead of the last big climb of the day, an 8.3-kilometer (5-mile) slog up the steep Col de Peyra Taillade — scaled for the very first time by the Tour.

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By the time Froome had stopped, taken a wheel off his teammate Michal Kwiatkowski and got going again, Bardet’s group was already way ahead — about one minute ahead of him down the road.

Aside from Bardet, other top riders were also in that group, including Fabio Aru and Rigoberto Uran — all within 30 seconds of Froome in the overall standings. Froome had two choices: catch them or lose the overall race lead and the famed yellow jersey that goes with it.

He hared after them and, helped first by teammates Mikel Nieve and then by Mikel Landa, Froome worked furiously on the climb to reel in Bardet’s group — past cheering crowds with some people who booed him as he labored past them.

“It was a stressful moment,” Froome said. “I thought I might not get back to the front.”

By recovering from the mishap, Froome now takes the jersey and an 18-second overall lead into Monday’s rest day, the last of two at the 104th Tour, ahead of a crucial last week of racing in the Alps and with a time trial in Marseille.

Mollema, a top-10 finisher at the Tours of 2013, 2014 and 2015, sped away on the descent from the Peyra Taillade climb and worked like a coal miner over the last 30 kilometers (20 miles) to stay out in front of a group of four riders who laid chase.

They couldn’t catch the Trek-Segafredo rider.

Mollema held his arms out in a cross shape as he sped across the finish line in Le Puy-en-Velay, the start of a famed Christian pilgrimage route to Spain.

NBC Sports Gold coverage of Stage 16 starts Tuesday at 7:25 a.m. ET, with NBCSN coming on air at 7:30.

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Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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Can T.J. Oshie, other established Olympic hockey stars hold on for 2022?

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T.J. Oshie will be 35 years old during the next Winter Olympics. Jonathan Quick will be 36. Now that the NHL is one key step closer to returning to the Winter Games, the question surfaces: which 2014 Olympians will have a difficult time returning to rosters in 2022?

Oshie was the last of the 14 forwards chosen for the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi, beating out Bobby Ryan and Brandon Saad, in part for his shootout prowess.

In group play against Russia, Oshie was memorably tapped by U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma six times in a shootout, including all five in the sudden-death rounds. Oshie beat Sergei Bobrovsky four times, including the game winner.

“After I went out for my third attempt, I figured I was going to keep going,” Oshie said, according to USA Hockey. “Each time I would look up to see what [Bylsma] had to say, and he would just give me a nod every time. I kind of started laughing toward shot five and six because it was getting kind of ridiculous.”

Oshie became known as “T.J. Sochi” on social media. President Barack Obama congratulated him on Twitter. The U.S. eventually lost to Canada in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game.

When the NHL chose not to send its players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, it may have spelled the end of Oshie’s Olympic career.

Consider that the oldest forward on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team was 29, six years younger than Oshie will be come 2022. A recent Olympic roster prediction from The Hockey Writers put Oshie in the “Just Missed Out” list.

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire has Oshie among the finalists for the last forward spots in his early U.S. roster prediction.

“I wouldn’t discount T.J. Oshie because shootout is still part of it,” McGuire said. “He still has his shootout moves, even though he’s not getting any younger.”

Quick, the unused third goalie in 2010, played 305 out of 365 minutes in net for the U.S. in Sochi. He was coming off a Stanley Cup in 2012 and en route to another one in 2014.

Since, he was sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. He remains the Los Angeles Kings’ No. 1 goalie, which almost automatically puts an American in the Olympic roster discussion these days.

“Somebody like Jonathan definitely merits consideration just because of his achievement level over time, but I think he’d be the first person to tell you injuries have definitely affected him,” McGuire said of Quick, looking to become the second-oldest U.S. goalie to play in the Olympics after Tom Barrasso in 2002. “It’s not going to be easy for him.”

The U.S. could bypass Quick for three Olympic rookies in 2022. Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson and Ben Bishop have superior save percentages and goals-against averages and more games played than Quick since the start of the 2018-19 season.

A wild card is Spencer Knight, the 19-year-old No. 1 from the world junior championships who last year became the highest-drafted goalie since 2010 (No. 13 to the Florida Panthers). Knight would break defenseman Bryan Berard‘s record as the youngest U.S. Olympic hockey player in the NHL era.

The Canadian roster has traditionally been deeper than the U.S. The talent is overwhelming at center, led by Sidney CrosbyConnor McDavidPatrice Bergeron and Nathan MacKinnon. The Canadians must get creative if the likes of veterans Jonathan Toews and John Tavares will join them in Beijing.

Toews, then 21, was the best forward at the 2010 Vancouver Games and Canada’s only one on the all-tournament team. While Toews’ last NHL All-Star selection was in 2017, his last two seasons have been his best in terms of points per game since 2011.

“The one thing that Canada is very good at, they do it extremely well, they select players that fit roles,” McGuire said, noting Mike Richards shifting to the wing during the 2010 Olympics. “When you look at the overwhelming depth that Canada has, that’s going to be the thing that’s going that’s going to be very interesting to watch to see how it plays out at center.”

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