2019 Tour de France
Tour de France

2019 Tour de France route revealed

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The 2019 Tour de France will be “the highest Tour in history” — with a record 30 mountain passes and five summit finishes — Tour general director Christian Prudhomme said, according to Agence France-Presse.

“The planning here means it is impossible to win this Tour unless you are a great climber,” Prudhomme said, according to the report.

The Tour route, revealed Thursday, starts in Brussels on July 6 and includes three summit finishes above 2,000 meters — the Col du Tourmalet pass, Tignes and Val Thorens.

“That’s really going to stand this route apart from previous editions,” four-time Tour winner Chris Froome said.

It’s the 106th edition of the Tour, celebrating 100 years of the yellow jersey worn by the race leader. Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas became the first Welshman to win the Tour this past July, succeeding Team Sky leader Froome, who finished third.

“I think that [the 2019 Tour] will be similar to this year in the way that we rode together,” Thomas said Thursday, according to Cyclingnews.com. “We were always honest with each other and I don’t see why we can’t do that again.”

The 2019 Tour also marks 50 years since the first of Belgian Eddy Merckx‘s five titles, making Brussels a fitting start.

Brussels hosted the Grand Départ one other time in 1958 during the Universal Exhibition and the inauguration of the Atomium.

The three-week stage race includes a team time trial for stage 2 and an individual time trial for stage 13, each just shy of 17 miles.

“More individual time trial kilometers would have been better, so it’s not an ideal course for me, but that was also the case this year,” 2018 Tour runner-up Tom Dumoulin said.

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IOC revokes shooting event status over Pakistan visa refusal

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Olympic Committee has revoked the Olympic qualification status of a 25-meter shooting event in New Delhi because Indian officials refused to grant entry visas to two Pakistani athletes and an official.

The IOC said Thursday it was informed on Monday that the Indian government authorities did not grant entry visas to the Pakistani delegation for the 25-meter rapid-fire pistol event at the ISSF World Cup, where two places at next year’s Tokyo Olympics were meant to be at stake.

The IOC said it only withdrew the Olympic qualification status from the competition in which the two Pakistani athletes were supposed to participate. There are 500 athletes from 61 countries who are already in India for other World Cup events.

“Since becoming aware of the issue, and in spite of intense last-minute joint efforts by the IOC, the ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) and the Indian NOC (National Olympic Committee), and discussions with the Indian government authorities, no solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete,” the IOC said in a statement.

It did not say whether Pakistani athletes were entered in any other events at the competition.

In a statement to the Press Trust of India news agency, Rajeev Mehta, the secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association, said Friday the IOA would approach the government again about the visas.

“It is a dangerous situation for all sport in the county,” Mehta was quoted as saying. “In addition to not being able to host events in India, there may be problems for our athletes to take part in international events.”

The IOC said the situation goes against the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter to not discriminate against any athlete.

The visa refusal comes amid escalated tensions between the two countries following last week’s deadly suicide bombing in Kashmir against Indian paramilitary troops. At least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in Thursday’s attack, which New Delhi blamed on Islamabad.

Since independence from Britain in 1947, Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which is divided between the two but claimed by each in its entirety.

Yevgenia Medvedeva wins Russian figure skating event to revive Worlds hope

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VELIKY NOVGOROD, Russia — Yevgenia Medvedeva beat Elizaveta Tuktamysheva in the Russian Cup final on Friday and boosted her hopes of a dramatic return to the Russia team for the world championships.

Despite a fall in the free skate, last year’s Olympic silver medalist scored 222.90 points to beat Tuktamysheva by just 1.71.

Medvedeva has struggled this season after moving to Canada to train, while Tuktamysheva started strongly in the autumn but was then hospitalized with pneumonia.

The Russian Cup was widely considered an unofficial skate-off for Russia’s third world championship slot next month alongside Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova and European champion Sofia Samodurova.

The skater likely to lose her spot is Stanislava Konstantinova, who followed up fourth at the European championships with another fourth-place finish on Friday.

MORE: Medvedeva’s coach Brian Orser says they’re on stand-by for Worlds spot

As a reminder, you can watch the world championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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