Olympic champion takes Tour de France yellow jersey in team time trial

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CHOLET, France (AP) — Chris Froome’s Team Sky came up four seconds short of winning the team time trial in the third stage of the Tour de France on Monday, as Greg Van Avermaet of victorious BMC claimed the yellow jersey.

BMC, led by Australian hope Richie Porte, clocked 38 minutes, 46 seconds over the 22-mile route that began and ended in Cholet near the Atlantic coast.

Sky finished second and Quick-Step Floors came third, seven seconds behind. World champion Sunweb featuring Tom Dumoulin finished fifth, 11 seconds back.

Former leader Peter Sagan was dropped by his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates and fell to 80th overall, three minutes behind.

Van Avermaet, a Belgian who excels at single-day classics and won the Rio Olympic road race, isn’t a threat for the overall title but he could keep the lead through the cobblestoned Stage 9 ending in Roubaix.

Froome was left 55 seconds behind in the overall standings with another week of nervy rolling stages before hitting the Alps.

“It’s a good time,” said Froome, who dropped 51 seconds following a crash in Stage 1. “There are a lot of other good teams. As I’ve said from the start, the legs are good. It was a good test for us and the team. I’m very happy with the other riders.”

The Tour de France continues Tuesday with a mostly flat 121-mile stage four, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here).

Froome is aiming to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the only riders to win the Tour five times.

Van Avermaet earned the yellow jersey by leading BMC over the line, just ahead of American teammate Tejay van Garderen, who moved up to second overall, with the same time as Van Avermaet. Van Garderen nearly became the second (or sixth) American to wear the yellow jersey.

Geraint Thomas of Sky was third overall, three seconds behind.

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Squad leaders traded turns on the front of the team “trains,” with the ability to constantly maintain a fast pace the decisive factor over a challenging — if not highly technical — route featuring a few minor hills.

Times were taken from the fourth rider on each eight-man team to cross the line.

BMC, which is searching for a new title sponsor, also won the previous team time trial on the Tour in 2015.

“I don’t think it is a bad thing to have the yellow jersey for a team looking for a sponsor,” said Porte, who crashed out of last year’s Tour and lost time in Stage 1 of this edition.

“I feel maybe even better (than last year),” Porte said. “It wasn’t ideal to throw 51 seconds away but we have taken some good time back on some of the other GC (general classification) guys today. It’s a long way to go, we still have six more hectic days and then we have also got the Alps and the Pyrenees.”

“Today, we just handled business,” said Van Garderen, who has twice finished in the top five at the Tour but is riding this edition in a declared supporting role for Porte.

“Right now it is more about chest-thumping and psychological advantages. It just shows that we are here, too, and let’s get it on.”

Van Avermaet also wore the yellow jersey for three days on the 2016 Tour.

The only individual time trial of the race comes in the penultimate stage, over a 31-kilometer route from Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle to Espelette in the Basque country.

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Magnus Cort Nielsen wins Tour de France stage ahead of Pyrenees

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CARCASSONNE, France (AP) — Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark sprinted away from two other challengers to win Stage 15 of the Tour de France on Sunday.

The Astana rider claimed his first career win at the Tour after staying ahead of Ion Izagirre and Bauke Mollema in a sprint over the final 200 meters of the hilly 181.5-kilometer (112.7-mile) leg from Millau that finished in a long descent to Carcassonne.

The three riders were the last of a breakaway group of 29 cyclists.

Geraint Thomas in the yellow jersey, second-placed Chris Froome, and the rest of the overall contenders were in a pack more than 10 minutes behind and had not finished yet.

The race will have a rest day on Monday. That pause precedes the four days in the Pyrenees, followed by the individual time trial on the penultimate day of the race.

The racing returns on Tuesday with Stage 16, a 218-kilometer mountain trek from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

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TOUR DE FRANCE: StandingsTV Schedule | Riders to Watch

Matthew Centrowitz grabs first Diamond League win; 3rd fastest women’s mile ever

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Matthew Centrowitz notched the second-biggest international win of his career, grabbing his first Diamond League victory in a 1500m in London on Sunday.

In Rio, Centrowitz became the first U.S. Olympic 1500m champion in 108 years. Centrowitz has five U.S. titles and two world championships medals but before Sunday had a best Diamond League 1500m finish of third.

Centrowitz redeemed himself at the London Olympic Stadium, a place where he finished fourth at the 2012 Games, missing a medal by four hundredths of a second.

On Sunday, he surged to win on the inside in the final straightaway, holding off Australian Ryan Gregson by .13. The race lacked the world’s top 1500m runners this year — Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot and Elijah Manangoi. Centrowitz was seventh in a stronger field in Monaco on Friday.

Full London results are here. The Diamond League moves to Birmingham, Great Britain, for its next meet Aug. 18.

In other events, Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan clocked the third-fastest women’s mile ever, 4:14.71. Only Svetlana Masterkova‘s 4:12.56 from 1996 and Genzebe Dibaba‘s 4:14.30 from 2016 were faster.

Jamaica may have found a new sprint star in Akeem Bloomfield. The 20-year-old won the 200m in 19.81 seconds, the fastest time by a Jamaican since Bolt’s last 200m at the Rio Olympics, against a field that lacked American Noah Lyles, who has the fastest time of 2018 of 19.65.

Kendra Harrison clocked the world’s fastest 100m hurdles of 2018, 12.36 seconds, on the second anniversary of her world record 12.20 on the same track. Harrison also bettered Olympic champion Brianna McNeal for the third time in four head-to-heads since Rio.

Kenyan Emmanuel Korir won the 800m in 1:42.05, the world’s fastest time since the epic London 2012 final won by countryman David Rudisha at the same Olympic Stadium.

South African Luvo Manyonga won the long jump with an 8.58-meter leap. The Rio silver medalist and world champion beat the last two Olympic gold medalists — American Jeff Henderson (fifth, 8.20 meters) and the retiring Brit Greg Rutherford (10th, 7.55 meters).

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