Tour de France: Groenewegen sprints to victory in Stage 7

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CHALON-SUR-SAONE, France (AP) — Less than a week ago in Brussels, Dylan Groenewegen sat dejected in the middle of a road, his body language oozing disappointment as he was attended by the Tour de France doctor.

One of the fastest sprinters in the world with one of the most powerful teams, the Dutch sprinter was expected to win the opening stage and seize the yellow jersey. Instead, he was caught in a crash and forced to watch his lead out man at Jumbo-Visma, Mike Teunissen, claim all the honors.

To add to his torment, Teunissen and Groenewegen are roomates on the Tour, meaning he had to spend the night with the yellow jersey in his room.

Banged up and demoralized, Groenewegen took a few days to recover, well beaten in the sprints that followed. He finally put his poor Tour start to bed with the tightest of wins in the longest stage on Friday.

“It was not the start I wanted,” Groenewegen candidly said after pointing a finger in celebration as he crossed the line. “Over the last days, I focused on today. My team did a really good job. The tactics was to go full gas, and I took the win.”

Groenewegen edged Australian rival Caleb Ewan and former world champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia to claim his fourth career stage win of the Tour.

After a final technical hairpin bend, the 230-kilometer stage featured a 1.6-kilometer path to the finish that gave pure sprinters a perfect opportunity to shine. Italian sprinter Elia Viviani was led out by his teammates but lacked speed and dropped out of contention. It was then a tight battle between Groenewegen and Ewan, with the former averaging 74.1 kph to win by just a few centimeters.

Before that intense finale, riders used Stage 7 to recover from the brutal ride on Thursday, and it made for painfully boring viewing.

“A long slow day on the saddle,” defending champion Geraint Thomas said. “Everything was starting to ache by the end, your wrists and your feet and stuff.”

There was no significant movement in the overall standings. Tour rookie Giulio Ciccone kept the yellow jersey with a six-second lead over Julian Alaphilippe. Among the favorites, Thomas remained the best placed rider, just 49 seconds off the pace.

Squeezed between the crossing of the Vosges and Massif Central mountains, the stage took the peloton from Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saone in central-east France. After a day of hardship in the Vosges that culminated with the brutal ascent to the Planches des Belles Filles, the peloton rode at a pedestrian pace and nobody moved in the outskirts of Belfort when breakaway specialists Yoann Offredo and Stephane Rossetto made a move.

Offredo and Rossetto could not make the most of the peloton’s apathy. They were reined in about 12 kilometers from the finish.

On the Tour’s longest day, some riders were caught napping. American Tejay Van Garderen and Teunissen both hit the tarmac soon after the start, close to a road divider. Van Garderen was attended by three of his teammates and eventually got back on his bike, his face bloodied and his jersey ripped. Nicolas Roche soldiered on, too, after he fell onto his machine on a long section of flat road.

Van Garderen was to have X-rays. His team will decide on Saturday whether he’s fit to continue.

“His main complaint right now is the thumb,” team doctor Kevin Sprouse said. “He’s got some bruising and swelling and just a lot of pain gripping, He may need a stich or two in the chin.”

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J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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