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, while Geraint Thomas had no trouble holding the overall lead for a fourth consecutive day

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. Cort Nielsen finished the hilly 181.5-kilometer (112.7-mile) leg from Millau that ended in a long descent to Carcassonne in 4 hours, 25 minutes.

“I always kept a little back so I was able to respond if they attack,” said the 25-year-old Cort Nielsen, who won two stages of the Spanish Vuelta in 2016.

Thomas in the yellow jersey, second-placed Chris Froome, and the rest of the overall contenders arrived at Carcassonne and its medieval city walls 13 minutes after the stage winner.

Thomas kept his advantage of 1 minute, 39 seconds over teammate and defending champion Froome before the race’s second rest day on Monday.

“We were always in control,” Thomas said. “We were always in the right place, and it’s a good day to get done.”

That pause precedes three mountain stages in the Pyrenees, followed by the individual time trial on the penultimate day of the race.

“There are three big, big days left, and then the time trial, so (I) just take each day as it comes and we will see what happens,” Thomas said.

It was a placid ride for Thomas before the decisive final week.

The only serious attack by a top-10 rider in the overall standings came from Dan Martin, the UAE Emirates leader, who tried a getaway while going up the Pic de Nore but was reeled in on the way down.

A breakaway group of 29 riders— none of which posed no threat to Thomas’ overall lead— got away early.

Cort Nielsen, Izagirre and Mollema dropped the five other remaining escapees before disputing the stage win among themselves. With all three riders sizing one another up, Cort Nielsen stayed in front when they finally broke into a sprint.

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

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First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

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MOSCOW (AP) Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.

Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.

Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.

Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

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Clare Egan notches first World Cup podium in biathlon season finale

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In the final biathlon event of the 2018-19 season, American Clare Egan recorded her first career World Cup podium finish, placing third in the mass start in Oslo, Norway. She hit 19 of 20 targets and crossed the finish line 10.4 seconds behind winner Hanna Oberg of Sweden. Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff finished second.

Egan, 31, made her Olympic debut at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, but considered retiring from biathlon at the end of the last season. “I decided that I wanted to do one more year, just for fun, just to see how much I could learn and how good a biathlete I could become,” Egan said in a U.S. Biathlon press release.

Her decision to continue has paid off: since the start of the 2018-19 season, Egan has posted the top eight finishes of her career (including three top-10 results). She concludes the season ranked 18th in the overall World Cup standings.

“I skied much faster this year than I have in the past and I think that was due to finally finding a good balance in my training, between working hard and resting. I did not train more, but the quality was much higher. I’m very excited for the next season,” Egan told U.S. Biathlon.