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When Boston Marathon turned into a sprint, Cherono was ready

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BOSTON (AP) Sometimes a race is both a marathon and a sprint.

Lawrence Cherono paced himself for 26 miles from Hopkinton to Boston, making the turn from Hereford Street for the last 600 meters on Boylston shoulder-to-shoulder with two other runners. From there, it was a footrace.

“I’ve never run on the track before,” the 30-year-old Kenyan said on Tuesday after picking up a check for $150,000 as the winner of the 123rd Boston Marathon. “To me, it was a lesson. I never lost hope.”

A six-time marathon winner, Cherono was the fastest man in the field by virtue of his victory in Amsterdam last fall in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 6 seconds. That speed came in handy Monday when the pack ran faster in the second half than the first, and Cherono completed the final mile in 4:29 to get to the tape before two-time Boston winner Lelisa Desisa.

In fact, at the 30K checkpoint there were still a dozen runners in the lead pack, including three of the last four champions: Desisa, who won in 2013 and ’15, Geoffrey Kirui (’16) and Lemi Berhanu Hayle (’17).

“I was not thinking of what they did last year,” Cherono said. “I was running my own race.”

Cherono finished in 2:07:57, the fastest winning time in Boston since Geoffrey Mutai’s 2:03:02 set a course record and a world best. Desisa slowed up, grimacing in agony, and finished 2 seconds behind.

Worknesh Degefa won the women’s race in 2:23:31 after pulling away from the pack in the outer suburbs and running alone for more than 20 miles.

“This is going to change my life,” she said Tuesday. “This marathon throws me onto the world stage. Winning the Boston Marathon is everything.”

A year after dealing with some of the foulest weather New England has to offer – temperatures in the mid-30s, an icy rain and near-gale headwinds – organizers lucked into a pretty nice day. Temperatures were in the high 50s at the start, and the rain held off until late in the afternoon.

That led to some new challenges.

Forecasts of cold and rain forced the Boston Athletic Association to prepare again for the worst, and heavy rains and lightning overnight led organizers to delay some of the buses shuttling runners out to the start. An early-morning military march was delayed for 90 minutes, but had the lightning continued the whole race could have been canceled.

Para athletes and others with imperfect contact with the ground were offered a deferment; not a single one took it, race director Dave McGillivray said.

The skies remained clear for the entire elite race and a light rain began falling mid-afternoon. But instead of the hypothermia that had been feared from anticipated cold weather – extra heaters were ordered for the medical tents – temperatures soared into the low 70s and doctors were dealing with exertion heat stroke.

One runner had a core body temperature of 109 degrees, medical coordinator Chris Troyanos said. A total of 2,217 runners needed medical attention on the course or at the finish line; 103 people were transported to hospitals and 13 were admitted overnight.

All were expected to be released Tuesday, Troyanos said.

McGillivray said the changing forecasts put pressure on organizers that last year’s dreadful – but predictable – weather did not.

“It was a moving target all week long,” he said. “But pressure is a privilege. And the B.A.A. team is at its best when we are challenged.”

Geraint Thomas cuts Julian Alaphilippe’s Tour de France lead

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FOIX, France (AP) — When one French rider starts to fade, another comes to the fore. One way or the other, France may still be on course for its first Tour de France winner since 1985.

Dancing over his saddle, his mouth wide open and gasping for air, Thibaut Pinot launched a ferocious attack Sunday and profited from the first signs of weakness in the high mountains from French race leader Julian Alaphilippe to edge closer to the yellow jersey in the overall standings.

Ascending the last uphill finish in the Pyrenees with a display of power and fluidity that signaled that he’ll also be a major contender to win the Tour, Pinot gained time on all his rivals for the second consecutive day following his triumph at the famed Tourmalet mountain in the previous stage.

Heading to the second and final rest day Monday ahead of what promises to be a climactic final week in the Alps, the race is exquisitely poised. Six riders are all within 2 minutes, 14 seconds of each other at the top of the standings.

The six terrible ascents above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) in the Alps, peppered over three mountain stages, will likely decide who will stand on top of the podium on the Champs-Elysees next Sunday.

TOUR DE FRANCE: TV Schedule | Full Standings

“The high mountains have only just begun,” said Alaphilippe. “The Alps are going to be a big mouthful.”

Surging from the mist and rain, Pinot crossed the finish line of Sunday’s Stage 15 in second place, 33 seconds behind Simon Yates, who posted a second stage win after a long solo raid, three days after his first stage victory in the southwestern mountain range.

The 29-year-old Pinot was irresistible when he made his move seven kilometers from the summit. Only Emanuel Buchmann and defending champion Geraint Thomas’ teammate Egan Bernal could follow. But Pinot accelerated again about 2 kilometers later to drop them for good.

Pinot moved to fourth place overall, 1 minute, 50 seconds behind Alaphilippe.

“The weather conditions and the stage were good for me, I had good sensations, I needed to make the most of it,” said Pinot. “I need to keep going up in the general classification, the most difficult stages are looming.”

While Pinot was escorted by his faithful Groupama-FDJ teammate David Gaudu in the final ascent toward Prat d’Albis, Alaphilippe was isolated without a single teammate to help him in the 12-kilometer climb and cracked, yet managed to salvage his yellow jersey.

Alaphilippe was so exhausted after his effort up the hill, where he grimaced through the rain, that he had to grip a roadside barrier afterward while he caught his breath.

“If I crack I hope he’ll carry the torch for the French,” Alaphilippe said about Pinot.

Thomas, who had already conceded time to Pinot at the Tourmalet, remained second in the general classification. He got dropped when Pinot took the lead from a reduced group of contenders but did not panic. He rode at his pace until he accelerated with 1.5 kilometers left to cut the overall gap on Alaphilippe from 2 minutes, 2 seconds to 1:35. Steven Kruijswijk of the Netherlands stood third overall, 1:47 off the pace.

Thomas said after the stage he could have tried to follow Pinot earlier but instead opted for a conservative approach because he did not want to bring back Alaphilippe to the front. Bernal was with Pinot and the Welshman would not take the risk of chasing down their common rival. Bernal, a Colombian with excellent climbing skills, remains involved in the fight for the yellow jersey, 2:02 behind Alaphilippe.

“I felt better than yesterday but I needed to try to pace it when it all kicked off,” Thomas said. “It’s a difficult one, tactics wise. I wanted to go, I had the legs to go but I wasn’t going to chase down Egan Bernal with Alaphilippe on my wheel.”

Coming right after the ascent of the Tourmalet, Stage 15 ran close to the ancient Cathar castles and was a punishing ride totaling more than 39 kilometers of climbing.

Alaphilippe was so exhausted after his effort up the hill, where he grimaced and dribbled through the rain, that he had to grip a roadside barrier afterward while he caught his breath.

“If I crack I hope he’ll carry the torch for the French,” Alaphilippe said about Pinot.

Yates, the Vuelta defending champion, was given a free reign by the peloton when he took part in an early breakaway as he was not a threat overall. He made his decisive move about 9 kilometers from the line.

“I’m very proud of that,” Yates said of his second victory at this Tour.

Watch world-class cycling events throughout the year with the NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, including all 21 stages of the Tour de France live & commercial-free, plus access to renowned races like La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the UCI World Championships and many more.

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce turns back the clock, wins another Diamond League

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce continues to show she’s just as fast as before childbirth, winning a Diamond League 100m in 10.78 seconds in London on Sunday.

Fraser-Pryce, a 32-year-old, two-time Olympic champion, beat a field that included the two fastest women of 2018, Brit Dina Asher-Smith (10.92) and Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou (10.98).

It lacked the only woman ranked higher than Fraser-Pryce this season, Rio Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, who edged her countrywoman at the Jamaican Championships on June 21.

But Fraser-Pryce has now broken 10.79 three times this season, her first time doing so since 2013. She could become the oldest woman to win an Olympic or world 100m title in Doha in two months.

“10.78 is a fabulous time,” she said. “My aim for Doha is definitely to be on the podium. For me, it’s a long season from here, so I am hoping my experience will come into play.”

Full London results are here. The meet lacked U.S. stars who are preparing for this week’s USATF Outdoor Championships, where world champs spots are at stake. The Diamond League resumes Aug. 18 in Birmingham, Great Britain.

Also Sunday, Kenyan Hellen Obiri won an anticipated head-to-head with Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan in the 5000m. Obiri, the world champion, clocked 14:20.36, the world’s fastest time in two years. Hassan, who nine days ago broke the mile world record, took third in a European record 14:22.12.

Swede Daniel Ståhl won a discus that included the world’s top three this year and the reigning Olympic and world gold and silver medalists. Stahl launched a 68.56-meter throw to overtake Jamaican Fedrick Dacres.

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