Sam Bennett wins stage as Tour de France continues after virus testing

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Ireland’s Sam Bennett won the Tour de France’s 10th stage by less than a wheel’s length after all the riders left in the three-week race were cleared to continue following coronavirus testing.

Bennett, a 29-year-old for Deceuninck-Quick-Step, earned his first Tour stage win, edging fellow sprinters Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan. He also took the green sprinters’ jersey from Sagan.

“I forgot to throw the bike at the line in the moment, and I thought he might have got me,” a tearful Bennett said. “I thought that I’d be in tears, but I’m just kind of in shock.

“You dream of it, and you never think it’ll happen. It does. It did.”

All of the overall contenders, led by Slovenian Primoz Roglic, finished in the same time on the Tour’s flattest stage, the first in history to start on one island and finish on another.

Bennett took a 21-point lead in the sprint standings over Sagan, who owns a record seven green-jersey titles. Sagan is in his longest drought between Tour stage wins since he won zero in 2014 and 2015.

“We are still halfway through the Tour de France, and there are still opportunities to take the jersey back,” Sagan said, according to his Bora-Hansgrohe team.

Less than two hours before the stage started, Tour organizers and the International Cycling Union (UCI) said all of the riders’ coronavirus tests performed on Sunday and Monday returned negative.

However, they announced that director Christian Prudhomme tested positive along with four staff members from four different teams who have been dropped from the race bubble.

The four staff who tested positive work for Cofidis, AG2R La Mondiale, defending champion Egan Bernal’s Ineos Grenadiers and Mitchelton Scott, meaning those four squads were at greater risk of being excluded.

Under the race’s health protocols, anyone who tests positive has to leave the race and any team with two or more positive tests — either rider or staff — within seven days also has to abandon.

Riders and staff are scheduled to be tested again on the next rest day Sept. 15.

The Tour continues with stage 11 on Wednesday, a 104-mile flat day through marshlands that should produce a sprint winner. NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold coverage start at 7 a.m. ET.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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