Geraint Thomas closer to Tour de France title; Chris Froome cracks in Stage 17

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SAINT-LARY-SOULAN, France (AP) — Four-time champion Chris Froome cracked in the feared 17th stage of the Tour de France through the Pyrenees on Wednesday, solidifying Sky teammate Geraint Thomas’ hold on the yellow jersey.

Colombian climber Nairo Quintana won the short but extremely difficult mountainous stage with a solo attack up the brutal finishing climb to Col du Portet.

Quintana, a three-time podium finisher in the Tour, finished 28 seconds ahead of Irish rider Dan Martin, while Thomas crossed third, 47 seconds back.

Froome finished eighth, 1:35 behind, and dropped from second to third overall. He then crashed following the stage after police mistook him for a fan on the way down the mountain.

“Froomey said on the radio at maybe 5K or 4K to go that he wasn’t feeling super,” Thomas said. “That gave me confidence because I knew if Froomey suffered, everyone suffered.

“I didn’t want him to have a bad day like he did but it just gave me confidence knowing someone of Froomey’s stature was struggling, and I just knew I would be able to respond to the attacks.”

Tom Dumoulin moved up to second behind Thomas, the Welsh rider who is seeking his first Grand Tour victory.

“Thomas has been the strongest, and that’s the situation now,” Dumoulin said. “For me, so far it has not been possible to gain time on him.”

TOUR DE FRANCE: StandingsTV Schedule | Riders to Watch

Froome is attempting to match the Tour record of five victories shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. But he appeared to be close to conceding this title attempt.

“We just got to look after (Thomas) now,” Froome said. “I’ve won the last three Grand Tours and G’s ridden an absolutely faultless race this year, so he fully deserves to be in the yellow jersey, and fingers crossed he finishes it off and gets the job done in Paris.”

Froome was first put in difficulty when Primoz Roglic attacked with 2.5 kilometers to go, and then was dropped for good when Dumoulin accelerated at the 2K banner.

While Thomas followed Dumoulin, Froome quickly lost ground and had to be escorted up the rest of the way by Colombian teammate Egan Bernal, who kept turning around to check on his team leader.

Sticking his tongue out in apparent exhaustion, it was a strong signal that Froome has reached his limit after winning the last three Grand Tours — the Tour and Spanish Vuelta last year and the Giro d’Italia in May.

“What you’ve got with Chris is he’ll empty the tank,” Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford said. “He deserves a lot of credit having gone to the Giro … He’s a great, great champion. He’s not out of it necessarily … If anybody can bounce back it’s Chris Froome — I wouldn’t rule him out.”

Froome also had to deal with the pressure of an asthma drug case over the last nine months. He was cleared of doping five days before the Tour.

It was Quintana’s second career stage victory in the Tour, having also won a leg in 2013.

“I went through some difficult moments in the first part of this Tour and lost some time,” said Quintana, who is fifth overall. “But I still felt strong and had the energy to finish the race on a high. I usually improve in the third week of the Tour and it’s going that way.”

A Formula One-like grid start introduced to the Tour for the first time had little impact on the race as Thomas and Froome waited for their Sky teammates to join them.

The 40-mile route from Bagneres-de-Luchon featured three grueling climbs and hardly a stretch of flat road.

The unprecedented finish on the Col du Portet above Saint-Lary-Soulan at an altitude of 2,215 meters (7,267 feet) marked the highest point of this year’s race.

Measuring 16 kilometers at an average gradient of nearly nine percent, organizers rated the Col du Portet as the second hardest climb in Tour history after Mont Ventoux.

With so much climbing to do right from the start, riders warmed up for up to an hour both on the road and on stationary rollers before the stage started.

Thomas started in “pole position” as the top 20 riders in the standings began ahead of lower-ranked riders in four more groups further behind.

The top riders had their numbers pasted on the road to indicate their grid positions.

Estonian rider Tanel Kangert launched an early solo breakaway and was first over the Montee de Peyragudes, the opening climb.

Peter Sagan, the three-time defending world champion and three-time stage winner in this year’s race, crashed on the descent from the Col de Val Louron, the second mountain of the day. Sagan made it to the finish with his jersey torn.

Tangert was alone in the lead until halfway up the Col du Portet, when Quintana caught him and surged ahead.

Quintana had followed along when Martin attacked from the yellow jersey group at the start of the climb.

There were no reported security issues a day after police used tear gas to disperse a farmers’ protest that had blocked the road with bales of hay.

After a less arduous Stage 18 on Thursday, there is another mountainous leg in the Pyrenees on Friday. Then there’s an individual time trial on Saturday before the three-week race ends Sunday in Paris.

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VIDEO: Tour de France riders sprayed with tear gas after protest

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships TV, live stream schedule

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Every race of the world Alpine skiing championships airs live on Peacock from Feb. 6-19.

France hosts the biennial worlds in Meribel and Courchevel — six women’s races, six men’s races and one mixed-gender team event.

Mikaela Shiffrin is the headliner, in the midst of her most successful season in four years with a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts. Shiffrin is up to 85 career World Cup victories, one shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record accumulated over the 1970s and ’80s.

World championships races do not count in the World Cup tally.

Shiffrin is expected to race at least four times at worlds, starting with Monday’s combined. She earned a medal in 11 of her 13 career world championships races, including each of the last 10 dating to 2015.

Shiffrin won at least one race at each of the last five world championships (nobody has gold from six different worlds). Her six total golds and 11 total medals are American records. At this edition, she can become the most decorated skier in modern world championships history from any nation.

She enters one medal shy of the record for most individual world championships medals since World War II (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt) and four medals shy of the all-time record. (Worlds were held annually in the 1930s, albeit with fewer races.)

She is also one gold medal shy of the post-World War II individual record shared by Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson.

The other favorites at these worlds include Italian Sofia Goggia, the world’s top female downhiller this season, and the two leading men: Swiss Marco Odermatt (No. 1 in super-G and giant slalom) and Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (No. 1 in downhill).

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships Broadcast Schedule

Date Event Time (ET) Platform
Mon., Feb. 6 Women’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Tues., Feb. 7 Men’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 8 Women’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 9 Men’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 11 Women’s Downhill 5 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Men’s Downhill 5 a.m Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Tue., Feb. 14 Team Parallel 6:15 a.m. Peacock
Men’s/Women’s Parallel Qualifying 11 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 15 Men’s/Women’s Parallel 6 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 16 Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Fri., Feb. 17 Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 18 Women’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 19 Men’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock

*Delayed broadcast
*All NBC coverage streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for TV subscribers.

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Noah Lyles runs personal best and is coming for Usain Bolt’s world record

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Noah Lyles ran a personal-best time in the 60m on Saturday, then reaffirmed record-breaking intentions for the 100m and, especially, the 200m, where Usain Bolt holds the fastest times in history.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 60m sprint in 6.51 seconds at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, clipping Trayvon Bromell by two thousandths in his first top-level meet of the year. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, is a past world indoor 60m champion and has a better start than Lyles, which is crucial in a six-second race.

But on Saturday, Lyles ran down Bromell and shaved four hundredths off his personal best. It bodes well for Lyles’ prospects come the spring and summer outdoor season in his better distances — the 100m and 200m.

“This is the moment I’ve been working, like, seven years for,” he said. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Last July, Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old American record in the 200m, winning the world title in 19.31 seconds. Only Bolt (19.19) and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26) have run faster.

Lyles has since spoken openly about targeting Bolt’s world record from 2009.

How does an indoor 60m time play into that? Well, Lyles said that his success last year sprung from a strong indoor season, when he lowered his personal best in the 60m from 6.57 to 6.56 and then 6.55. He followed that by lowering his personal best in the 200m from 19.50 to 19.31.

He believes that slicing an even greater chunk off his 60m best on Saturday means special things are on the horizon come the major summer meets — the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July (on the same Oregon track where he ran the American 200m record) and the world championships in Budapest in August.

After focusing on the 200m last year, Lyles plans to race both the 100m and the 200m this year. He has a bye into the 200m at world championships, so expect him to race the 100m at USATF Outdoors, where the top three are in line to join world champ Fred Kerley on the world team.

Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86, a tenth off the best times from Kerley, Bromell and 2019 World 100m champ Christian Coleman. Bolt is in his own tier at 9.58.

Also Saturday, Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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