Usain Bolt barely wins last race before world championships

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Usain Bolt held off an unaccomplished field to win his last race before his farewell world championships, clocking 9.95 seconds in a 100m in Monaco on Friday.

Bolt edged American Isiah Young by .03 in his third 100m race this season. It’s Bolt’s first time clocking sub-10 since the Rio Olympics.

“I’m going into right direction, still lot of work to do,” Bolt said, according to the IAAF. “Sub-10 always good.”

Bolt has one meet left before retirement, the world championships in London that start in two weeks. Bolt is slated to race the 100m and 4x100m at the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

None of Bolt’s top rivals raced against him in Monaco — Yohan BlakeChristian ColemanAndre De Grasse and Justin Gatlin.

His time on Friday was not particularly impressive, but it was the fastest by any man outside of his home country this year. Even Bolt has admitted it has been a slow year overall for men’s sprinters.

Full Diamond League results are here.

In other events, Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk was pushed by Botswana’s Isaac Makwala in the 400m, winning in 43.73 seconds. Makwala clocked 43.84, testing the South African more than any runner since 2015. Van Niekerk holds the world record of 43.03 and the fastest time of 2017 of 43.62.

Ajee’ Wilson shattered the U.S. women’s 800m record in finishing third behind Olympic champion Caster Semenya. Wilson clocked 1:55.61, taking .79 off Jearl Miles Clark‘s record from 1999.

Semenya, who hasn’t lost an 800m since September 2015, lowered her national record by .01 to win by two tenths over Rio silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba in 1:55.27.

World-record holder Keni Harrison edged countrywoman Sharika Nelvis, 12.51 to 12.52, in the 100m hurdles. It was well off Harrison’s world record of 12.20 from 2016 and 12.28 from July 4.

Kenyan Elijah Manangoi ran the fastest 1500m in the world in two years, winning in 3:28.80. Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz was ninth (3:34.43). World champion Asbel Kiprop was 11th (3:34.91).

Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager won the 3000m steeplechase by 6.39 seconds in 8:01.29, the fastest time in the world this year by 3.34 seconds. Rio gold medalist Conseslus Kipruto withdrew before the race with an ankle injury.

Kori Carter led a U.S. one-two in the women’s 400m hurdles. She clocked 53.36 to hold off 2015 World champion Shamier Little, who crossed in 54.02. Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad, who has the fastest time of 2017 of 52.64, was not in Monaco.

The Diamond League takes a break for worlds before returning in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Aug. 20.

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MORE: Bolt: Nobody is running fast this year

Simone Biles, her name sparkling, extends 6-year win streak

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Simone Biles has long stood out for her gymnastics, but on Saturday she competed with her last name sparkling in silver beads on her World Champions Centre leotard for the first time. The gym’s other athletes had “WCC” on the back.

Biles lived up to the billing, extending her six-year win streak to 19 straight all-arounds, capturing the U.S. Classic, a tune-up for next month’s U.S. Championships.

Biles, the four-time Rio Olympic champion, scored 60 points in Louisville at the meet where she made her comeback last year after nearly two years off from competition. She prevailed by a comfortable 2.1 points over Riley McCusker, her largest margin of victory of her four U.S. Classic titles.

“I’m very satisfied,” she said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “I’m a little sad that I went out of bounds on floor [exercise], but overall I feel like there are improvements to be made.”

Full results are here.

Biles is prepping for nationals in Kansas City in three weeks, when she eyes a sixth U.S. all-around title to tie Clara Schroth Lomady‘s record from the AAU era in the 1940s and ’50s.

Then come the world championships in October in Stuttgart, Germany. Biles could win a fifth all-around to move one shy of Kohei Uchimura‘s record.

The world’s other top gymnasts may be her countrywomen.

Biles was outscored on balance beam on Saturday by 2018 World teammates Kara Eaker and McCusker and beaten on uneven bars by 2017 World all-around champion Morgan HurdSunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and McCusker. Biles swept all the gold medals at last year’s nationals.

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MORE: USA Gymnastics revamps Safe Sport policy amid abuse scandal

Geraint Thomas struggles; Julian Alaphilippe ups Tour de France lead

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LA MONGIE, France (AP) — When the team of Geraint Thomas was in its pomp at the Tour de France, a time trial followed by a big mountain stage would have been playgrounds for Sky — now in new colors as Ineos — to take cycling’s greatest race by the scruff of the neck and leave everyone else fighting for second place.

Not this year.

Thomas, the defending champion, cracked on Saturday on the Tour’s first encounter with a climb to above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), exposing unprecedented weaknesses in his team that has won six Tours in the past seven years.

The time trial on Friday and the climb up to the legendary Tourmalet pass on Saturday seemed primed for Thomas to reel in Julian Alaphilippe, the yellow jersey-holder from France who is setting the Tour alight with his punchy riding and determination to keep the race lead, filling French fans’ heads with dreams of a first homegrown winner since 1985.

TOUR DE FRANCE: TV Schedule | Full Standings

But instead, Thomas has seen Alaphilippe only get further and further away. In two days, the Frenchman has put 50 seconds of extra daylight between him and the Welshman. His lead — up to 2 minutes, 2 seconds — is becoming large enough to start realistically envisioning Alaphilippe in yellow in Paris next weekend as the first French winner since Bernard Hinault.

Fueling the ecstasy of delirious crowds that lined Saturday’s steep uphill finish, French rider Thibaut Pinot won Stage 14, putting him back in the picture to fight for the podium after he lost mountains of time on Stage 10.

Thomas rightly pointed out that the Tour is far from done, with six more ascents to above 2,000 meters still to come.

But his inability to stay with Pinot, Alaphilippe and other title contenders at the top of the Tourmalet — he was eighth, 36 seconds behind Pinot — was a mini-earthquake for the Tour dominated by his British team since 2012 — with champions Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and, in 2018, Thomas.

“Not the best day. I just didn’t feel quite on it from the start. I was quite weak,” Thomas said.

“At the end I knew I just had to pace it. I didn’t really attempt to follow when they kicked. I just thought I should ride my own pace rather than follow them and blow up on the steepest bit at the end. It’s disappointing. I just tried to limit the damage.”

Having taken cycling to a new level since 2012 with its vast budget and attention to the minutest of details, the team run by David Brailsford has been hit both by misfortune and by the inevitability that, eventually, other teams would start to close the gap.

A horror crash in training for four-time winner Froome, now recovering from career-threatening broken bones, robbed the team of its ace. Thomas’ own preparations were hampered by a crash at the Tour of Switzerland last month.

And Egan Bernal, being groomed by Brailsford to succeed Froome and Thomas, looks increasingly unable to compete for the title this year. Bernal was fifth on the Tourmalet and is fourth overall, 3 minutes behind Alaphilippe.

Pinot, now sixth overall and 3:12 behind Alaphilippe, is showing remarkable grit in bouncing back from his Stage 10 misfortune, when he was part of a group that got separated from other title contenders in crosswinds.

“I have this rage inside me, because in my opinion it was an injustice,” said Pinot, a podium finisher in 2014.

“Since the start of the Tour I had this stage in the back of my mind. The Tourmalet, it’s mythical,” said Pinot, who has three career stage wins at the Tour.

French President Emmanuel Macron, on hand at the top of the Tourmalet to see Pinot win and Alaphilippe extend his lead, gushed about the “two fantastic riders.”

“They attack and they have heart,” Macron said.

Watch world-class cycling events throughout the year with the NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, including all 21 stages of the Tour de France live & commercial-free, plus access to renowned races like La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the UCI World Championships and many more.

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