Mikaela Shiffrin bumped off podium in Soelden; Lindsey Vonn struggles

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Mikaela Shiffrin opened the Olympic season with a rare costly mistake, getting bounced off her line and finishing fifth in a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Saturday.

Lindsey Vonn was 34th and 3.31 seconds behind in the first run, where the top 30 advanced to a second run. Giant slalom is not one of her best disciplines.

German Viktoria Rebensburg, the 2010 Olympic GS champ, won by .14 of a second over France’s Tessa Worley after two runs. Italy’s Manuela Moelgg was third.

Shiffrin was .74 back in fifth, losing about one second in the first half of her second run, which included going well wide of that one gate. Shiffrin was second-fastest in the opening run, .12 behind Moelgg.

Full results are here.

“The biggest competition I have right now is with myself,” Shiffrin said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “I feel really good with where my GS is right now. I’m disappointed because I didn’t make turns today like I know I can.”

Shiffrin, 22 and fifth in the Sochi Olympic GS, improved to become the world’s second-best GS skier last season behind Worley.

Vonn last raced giant slalom Jan. 30, 2016 and last won a GS on Dec. 12, 2015, her only finish better than fifth in a GS since January 2013.

She does hope to race GS in PyeongChang, where she should be a medal favorite in downhill and super-G.

“I just didn’t push myself enough. I was kind of too conservative where I could have let it go. But it was nice to get started,” Vonn said, according to USA Today. “I was wishing to get some points [by finishing in the top 30], but that’s life.”

Lara Gut (2016 World Cup overall champion) and Sofia Goggia (third in 2017 World Cup overall) skied out in the first run Saturday.

The start was moved down due to high winds.

Olympic champion Ted Ligety headlines the men’s field racing Soelden on Sunday. An Alpine broadcast schedule is here.

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MORE: Vonn: Women viewed as ‘second-rate’ on World Cup

Soelden Women’s Giant Slalom
1. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) — 1:55.20
2. Tessa Worley (FRA) — +.14
3. Manuela Moelgg (ITA) — +.53
5. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — +.74
34. Lindsey Vonn (USA)
42. Megan McJames (USA)
47. Foreste Peterson (USA)

Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

AP
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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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Greg Van Avermaet triples Tour de France lead in first mountain stage

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Belgian Greg Van Avermaet more than tripled his Tour de France overall lead in the first day in the mountains on Tuesday, but Wednesday may be his last day in the yellow jersey.

Julian Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman to win a stage in this year’s Tour, claiming the 10th stage that included three first-category climbs and a beyond-category climb but ended with a descent and the contenders together in the peloton.

Van Avermaet finished fourth, 1:44 behind Alaphilippe. More importantly, Van Avermaet crossed the Grand-Bornand finish line 1:39 ahead of a group that included most of the main contenders to top the podium in Paris on July 29.

The Olympic road race champion increased his overall lead from 43 seconds to 2:22.

Van Avermaet has worn the maillot jaune for a week straight, but he is not a climber, and the biggest test of the Tour thus far is imminent.

“No disrespect, but he’s not going to win the Tour,” said Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who is in second place.

The Tour continues with stage 11, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Wednesday (full broadcast schedule here). The 67-mile stage starts in the 1992 Winter Olympic host Albertville and includes two beyond-category climbs. It concludes with a category-one summit at La Rosière.

“Tomorrow’s a climber’s day,” Van Avermaet said. “It will be super hard to keep [the yellow jersey]. … Tomorrow it will be over.”

Chris Froome, eyeing a record-tying fifth Tour de France title, is best placed of the pre-Tour favorites.

Froome is in sixth place and 3:21 behind Van Avermaet. Froome is followed by Spaniard Mikel Landa in the same time and 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali another six seconds back.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran, the 2017 Tour runner-up, finished 2:36 behind the group with Froome, Landa and Nibali.

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