Geraint Thomas set for Tour de France title after time trial; Chris Froome on podium

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In past Tours de France, Geraint Thomas finished with a broken pelvis, abandoned with a broken collarbone and even slammed his head into a telephone pole and fell into a ditch.

On Sunday, he will ride onto the Champs-Élysées wearing the yellow jersey as the first Welshman to win cycling’s greatest race. And Team Sky mate Chris Froome should join him on the podium.

“I don’t know what to say. It’s just overwhelming,” Thomas said. “I didn’t think about it all race, and now, suddenly, I won the Tour, man. Wow.”

Thomas, a two-time Olympic track cycling champion, capped a standout three weeks by placing third in the 19-mile individual time trial on Saturday, the penultimate day of the three-week Grand Tour.

Tom Dumoulin, second in the overall standings, won the stage by one second over Froome and 14 seconds over Thomas. But Thomas went into the day with a two-minute lead on Dumoulin.

“Amazing last day, I was so nervous,” said Dumoulin, whose world champion skinsuit was lost before the stage. Another one was quickly made and arrived before the Dutchman started.

Froome, a four-time Tour winner, moved from fourth place back to third in the overall standings, passing former junior world champion ski jumper Primoz Roglic of Slovenia. Roglic was eighth in the time trial, 72 seconds behind Dumoulin.

“After a difficult day yesterday I did not think it was possible,” Froome said. “I’m very, very happy. Being on the podium with Geraint is a dream.”

TOUR DE FRANCE: StandingsTV Schedule | Riders to Watch

Sunday’s 21st stage is a traditionally ceremonial ride into Paris for the top riders. The top three in the overall standings should go unchanged. NBCSN coverage starts at 9:30 a.m. ET, with NBC Sports Gold streaming at 10.

Thomas, 32, earned two Olympic track cycling team pursuit gold medals and three world championships on the track between 2007 and 2012. He came into his own as a road cyclist after the London Games, becoming one of Froome’s right-hand men in the mountains at the Tour de France.

Thomas continued to improve this season, winning the weeklong Critérium du Dauphiné, one of the biggest lead-up events for the Tour de France.

Though Froome won the Giro d’Italia in May, it was Thomas who was clearly stronger in the Alps and the Pyrenees the last two weeks, winning a pair of stages.

Thomas is riding his ninth Tour. In 2013, he broke his pelvis in Stage 1 and somehow raced the next three weeks and finished 140th with teammate Froome winning his first title.

In 2015, Thomas’ head collided with a telephone pole in Stage 16. He fell into a ditch but was unhurt. Then last year, Thomas abandoned after breaking his collarbone in Stage 9.

“He is a true fighter,” said Sky principal Dave Brailsford, the man who masterminded Britain’s successes at the Olympics and Tour de France wins for Bradley Wiggins and Froome.

“When he fractured his hip five years ago, he could not even stand up his bike in the team time trial that followed. He still carried on and finished the race. It speaks volumes about his personality. Since his junior years, he has always wanted to win.”

At the finish Saturday, Thomas let out a loud scream and held his arms out wide in celebration. He embraced his wife, Sara Elen, as soon as he got off his bike.

“The last time I cried was when I got married,” Thomas said as he teared up.

“I believed I could beat the guys here, but to do it on the biggest stage of all, over three weeks, it’s insane,” he said. “Last time I cried was when I got married. Don’t know what’s happened to me.”

Now he’s at the peak of his career but out of contract with Sky at the end of the season. Thomas has yet to decide on his future with the British outfit. Brailsford is confident he will remain a Sky rider.

“He is loyal, I never had any doubts about it. When the team needed him, he was always there,” Brailsford said. “After all these years spent giving to others, he finally got rewarded.”

American rider Lawson Craddock, who broke his shoulder in the opening stage and sits last overall, also broke down into tears upon reaching the finish Saturday.

“It’s been an incredibly testing Tour de France for me,” Craddock said. “I wasn’t sure I could make it this far, and I just enjoyed crossing the finish line today. It was the final test to make it to Paris.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Chloe Dygert crashes over guard rail at world championships, has surgery

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American Chloé Dygert crashed over a guard rail at the world road cycling championships time trial, where she appeared en route to a repeat title, and underwent leg surgery as a result.

Dygert, who last year won by the largest margin in history as the youngest-ever champion, lost control of her bike while approaching a curve to the right. Her front wheel bobbled, and she collided with the barricade, flipping over into an area with grass.

Dygert, who had a left leg laceration, was tended to by several people, put on a stretcher and taken to a hospital in Bologna, Italy, about 25 miles from the worlds host of Imola.

“We are relieved that this crash was not worse than what it could have been,” USA Cycling chief of sport performance Jim Miller said in a press release. “While this crash is distressing, Chloe is young and a fighter. With Chloe’s determination, we know she will be back riding before we know it. For now, we want her to focus on healing.”

About 10 minutes after the crash, Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen won her first time trial title.

Van der Breggen took silver the last three years behind Dygert and countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, who missed this year’s race after breaking her wrist last week in the Giro Rosa.

Dygert, 23, had a 26-second lead at the 14-kilometer time check of the 31-kilometer race. Full results are here.

Dygert qualified for the Tokyo Olympics when she won last year’s world time trial title. She has been bidding to make the Olympics on the road and the track.

Worlds continue Friday with the men’s time trial airing on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold for Cycling Pass subscribers at 8:15 a.m. ET. A full TV schedule is here.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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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.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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