Sagan sprints to victory in Tour de France Stage 5

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COLMAR, France (AP) Peter Sagan of Slovakia silenced his critics and won the fifth stage of the Tour de France Wednesday as Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe kept the race leader’s yellow jersey.

The three-time world champion posted a 12th career stage win at cycling’s biggest race, emerging victorious from a bunch sprint in the eastern city of Colmar at the end of a 175.5-kilometer (109-mile) trek through the green forests and hills of western France’s Vosges massif.

Sagan, the dominant sprinter in recent years, arrived at the Tour in the wake of a disappointing season and was well beaten in Tuesday’s sprint in Nancy.

He said he was slowed by illness earlier this year but recovered in time to prepare for the Tour as planned.

“I think you cannot compare my current form with the one I had this spring,” said Sagan, who is bidding for a record seventh green jersey, which is awarded to the best sprinter.

“I was sick, lots of sickness in my body. I’ve recovered, and now I’m here.”

Since 2012, Sagan has failed to win the green jersey just once, when he was disqualified following a crash with Mark Cavendish two years ago.

He took a resounding revenge in Colmar, surging ahead in the middle of the road to edge Wout van Aert and Matteo Trentin.

“I just have to ride with passion and the victory comes,” Sagan said. “I have to say thanks to all my teammates. They have done a great job and finally we have the Tour de France victory that we were looking for. It’s very nice for us. We controlled all day, on the flat part and towards the finish. I did my best. Everyone needs good luck and a good day for winning.”

The sprint was not contested by pure specialists, who got dropped over the four climbs on the day’s program.

Alaphilippe finished in the main pack alongside other main contenders including defending champion Geraint Thomas, with no change at the top of the overall standings.

The stage got off to a lively start and a group of four riders managed to break away from the pack following a series of unsuccessful attacks.

Mads Wurtz, Tim Wellens, Toms Skujins and Simon Clarke collaborated well and built a two-minute lead over the peloton. The pace at the back of the race picked up in the second half of the stage but the quartet went over the summit of the Cote du Haut Koenigsbourg with 1 minute, 45 seconds on their pursuers.

Skujins attacked in the Cote des Trois Epis – a 4.9-kilometer climb at an average gradient of 6.8 percent – to drop his breakaway companions with a sustained effort. The Latvian rider’s lead over the main pack was reduced to one minute at the top and he was caught in the final difficulty on the program, the Cote des Cinq Chateaux.

Hostilities between the race favorites are expected to start during Thursday’s first key stage to the Planche des Belles Filles, a leg-breaking climb likely to reshuffle the standings.

Heimana Reynolds wins skateboard world title, nears an Olympic goal from age 10

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In February 2009, a 10-year-old Heimana Reynolds was profiled by his local NBC TV station on Oahu.

“My goal is to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said, according to the report.

Skateboarding would not be added to the Olympics for another seven years. But here Reynolds is, age 21, having just won the world title in park, one of two skateboarding events that debut at the Games in Tokyo.

Reynolds, who wasn’t named to the four-man U.S. national team in March, consolidated his lead in the Olympic qualification rankings by prevailing over a pair of Brazilians in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

A shirtless Reynolds scored 88 points in the final, beating Luis Francisco (85.50) and Pedro Quintas (85).

No more than three Americans can make the Olympic team in the event, which will make it difficult if three-time Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Shaun White decides to continue his skateboarding pursuit. White was the sixth-best American, bowing out in the semifinals in 13th place on Saturday in just his second contest since returning to competitive skating last year.

Back to Reynolds. He grew up on the North Shore and attended the Punahou School, where Barack Obama is the most famous alum. His first name is Tahitian, reportedly referring to the power of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Reynolds, the son of a surfer, proved a natural on land. After pre-teen media profiles, he blossomed into a world silver medalist last year. He won an Olympic qualifier in China in July to take the top spot in the Olympic rankings despite a best career X Games finish of sixth.

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Primoz Roglic, ex-ski jumper, wins Vuelta a Espana

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In a year of new talent in cycling, a former world junior champion ski jumper won the last Grand Tour.

Primoz Roglic, a 2007 World junior team ski jumping champion, won the Vuelta a Espana, becoming the first Slovenian to capture a Grand Tour. He prevailed by 2 minutes, 16 seconds over Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde after Sunday’s final stage, a largely ceremonial ride into Madrid.

“Not much words to say about it,” Roglic said in a speech atop the podium. “See you next races.”

Roglic, 29, became the fifth straight first-time Grand Tour champion dating to Geraint Thomas‘ 2018 Tour de France title.

Roglic benefited from Thomas and other stars like Chris Froome skipping the Vuelta, but he also had the credentials, having finished fourth in the 2018 Tour and third in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Valverde deserves acclaim, too, having, at age 39, made his ninth Grand Tour podium and seventh at the Vuelta. Valverde, the reigning world road race champion, has gone 16 years between his first and most recent Vuelta podium. He also had a record-breaking 19th Grand Tour top 10, according to Gracenote.

Then there’s third-place finisher Tadej Pogacar, a 20-year-old Slovenian who became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

Roglic, who suffered this scary crash before leaving ski jumping, joined Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz and Colombian Egan Bernal as this year’s Grand Tour winners. All ride for different teams.

Roglic is with Jumbo-Visma, which also includes this year’s Tour de France third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk and will include, starting in 2020, 2018 Tour de France runner-up Tom Dumoulin.

Kruijswijk abandoned the Vuelta with a knee injury in the fourth stage. Dumoulin did not start the Vuelta.

The road cycling season continues with the world championships in Yorkshire, Great Britain, later this month.

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