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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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MORE: 10 Tour de France riders to watch

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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