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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

South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun
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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

Brigid Kosgei
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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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