Geraint Thomas 19 miles from Tour de France title; Chris Froome drops again

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LARUNS, France (AP) — Geraint Thomas increased his hold on the yellow jersey in the final mountain stage of the Tour de France on Friday, while Sky teammate and four-time champion Chris Froome lost his spot on the podium.

Slovenian rider Primoz Roglic won the 125-mile 19th leg through the Pyrenees with an attack on the dangerous descent from the Col d’Aubisque.

A former ski jumper who rides for Team Lotto NL-Jumbo, Roglic finished 19 seconds ahead of Thomas, with Romain Bardet of France crossing third with the same time.

“I had legs today,” Roglic said. “I really tried a lot of times and finally I went away on the descent.”

With the help of a six-second bonus for finishing second in the stage, Thomas increased his lead over Tom Dumoulin to 2 minutes, 5 seconds.

Roglic leapfrogged Froome into third spot overall, 2:24 off the pace, while the British rider now trails by 2:37.

Dumoulin finished sixth in the stage and Froome eighth, both with the same time as Thomas.

One key stage remains — a 19-mile time trial through the Basque country on Saturday (5:50 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold, and 7 a.m., NBCSN) — before the mostly ceremonial finish in Paris on Sunday.

“It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow. I’m really knackered,” Thomas said. “I’m still trying not to get carried away.”

Froome initially fell behind on the climb up the Aubisque before latching back onto the lead group on the descent.

It was Roglic’s second Tour victory, having claimed Stage 17 in the Alps last year.

Roglic, who also excels at time trials, showed courage on a twisty descent made more difficult by clouds and fog hanging over the Aubisque.

When the road allowed, he crouched down on to his bike frame in a risky aerodynamic move known as “super tucking.”

Dumoulin accused the stage winner of ‘drafting’ behind a motorbike.

“Roglic was the strongest today, and a lot of respect for his victory. But he was flying downhill, and eventually I got dropped on a straight part just because he was on his tube and full in the slipstream of the motorbike,” Dumoulin said.

Roglic rejected the accusation.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I don’t have influence on that. We all have the same possibilities to go the first one down. I didn’t notice anything unusual.”

The route through the pilgrimage town of Lourdes to Laruns took the peloton over three legendary climbs — the Col d’Aspin, the Col du Tourmalet and the Aubisque — before the dive down to the finish.

Mountain classifications leader Julian Alaphilippe was first over the Aspin and Tourmalet as part of an early breakaway.

Mikel Landa and Bardet then attacked from the yellow jersey group up the Tourmalet and joined the leaders before Roglic, Thomas and Dumoulin took over on the final climb.

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2020 French Open women’s singles draw, results

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, results

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

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