France’s best hope to win Tour de France cracks in Pyrenees

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The Tour de France’s first day in the Pyrenees cost the host nation its best hope to end its 35-year title drought.

Frenchman Thibaut Pinot was dropped on the penultimate climb on stage eight, the first of back-to-back mountain days. He finished 25 minutes behind stage winner and countryman Nans Peters and fell nearly 19 minutes behind in the overall standings led by Brit Adam Yates.

“I could not pedal, that’s the way it is,” Pinot said. “I want to apologize to my teammates and all my supporters.”

Pinot began Saturday in good position, ninth place with the same time as defending champion Egan Bernal, 13 seconds behind Yates.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage

But Pinot, third at the 2014 Tour, was seen sitting up, stretching his back on multiple occasions after losing contact with the peloton.

Ahead, Yates and the pre-Tour co-favorites, Bernal and Slovenian Primoz Roglic, finished in the same time. Yates keeps his three-second lead over Roglic.

Pinot, a 30-year-old for team Groupama-FDJ, crashed in the Tour’s first stage in Nice the previous Saturday. He failed to finish the Tour in each of his last three starts. Last year, he tearfully abandoned during stage 19 with a leg injury while in fifth place overall.

“It might be a turning point in my career,” Pinot said. “I’ve been through too many failures.”

The last Frenchman to win the Tour was Bernard Hinault in 1985, making this the longest drought for the host nation. Before this, the longest span between French wins in Tour history dating to 1903 was seven races.

France had three other cyclists in the top 11 overall going into Saturday — Guillaume Martin in third, Romain Bardet in seventh and Julian Alaphilippe in 11th. But none were expected to hold up in the Pyrenees and Alps as well as Pinot. Alaphilippe also cracked Saturday, falling to 26th place, nearly 12 minutes behind.

The Tour continues in the Pyrenees with five categorized climbs on Sunday with NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold coverage starting at 7 a.m. ET.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Coco Gauff eliminated from French Open

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PARIS (AP) — American teenager Coco Gauff’s French Open debut ended in the second round after she double-faulted 19 times in a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 loss to 159th-ranked qualifier Martina Trevisan.

Gauff double-faulted twice in the last game of the 2-hour, 11-minute match.

The 16-year-old Gauff has reached at least the third round at the other three major tournaments.

For Trevisan, a 26-year-old from Italy, this was her first victory in a Grand Slam match played to its conclusion.

She lost in the first round at the Australian Open this year in her first appearance at a major, then advanced Sunday at Roland Garros when her opponent, Camila Giorgi, stopped playing in the second set because of an injury.

Against Gauff, Trevisan kept yelling, “Yes!” and “Let’s go!” in Italian between points, then let out a high-pitched scream when the match ended.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Earlier, Defending champion Rafael Nadal reached the third round by beating American player Mackenzie McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3.

The No. 2-seeded Spaniard is looking to win his record-extending 13th French Open title and equal Roger Federer’s men’s record of 20 major titles overall.

Nadal improved his record at Roland Garros to 95-2 when he sealed victory on his first match point. He next faces 74th-ranked Stefano Travaglia of Italy.

Sebastian Korda has now beaten two tour veterans in his first French Open.

After eliminating Andreas Seppi in his opening main draw match, the 20-year-old American qualifier took out 21st-seeded John Isner in the second round with a 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win.

A former junior world No. 1 and winner of the boys title at the 2018 Australian Open — and the son of 1992 French Open finalist Petr Korda — Korda broke Isner’s normally dominant serve five times.

The No. 213-ranked Korda will next face either Mikhail Kukushkin or qualifier Pedro Martinez on Friday.

Also, No. 27-seeded American Taylor Fritz reached the third round by serving 16 aces in a straight-set victory over Radu Albot.

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Final postponed

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The Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual international figure skating competition, will not take place as scheduled in December in Beijing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Skating Union announced Wednesday that the Final was postponed.

There were “a number of logistical points raised by potentially participating teams that meant that hosting the competitions on the scheduled dates (close to the end of year holidays and national championships) would have impacted on the number of participants, given the potential need to quarantine on returning to their home country,” according to the ISU.

The ISU is “evaluating the continuation” of the upcoming season and possible rescheduling of the competition in China, which doubles as a 2022 Beijing Olympic test event.

The Grand Prix Final, held every December after the six-event Grand Prix Series, is the biggest indicator of Olympic and world championships medal prospects.

The Grand Prix Series is still scheduled to start with Skate America in Las Vegas from Oct. 23-25.

Fields have not been announced, but skaters are restricted to compete at the event in their home nation or in or near their training location.

The ISU also announced that the remaining World Cup short track speed skating stops in 2020 were postponed or canceled — Seoul and Beijing, both in December.

Previously, the first short track World Cups in November were canceled. All four of the long-track speed skating World Cups scheduled this fall were also canceled.

The next scheduled World Cup short- or long-track events are in February.

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