Egan Bernal, injured, plummets further as Tour de France enters decisive days

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An injured Egan Bernal, his Tour de France title defense already extinguished, lost even more time in the 16th stage on Tuesday as the overall leaders prepared for the event’s highest summit finish on Wednesday.

Bernal, a Colombian who last year became the first South American to win the Tour, dropped off the back of peloton near the start of the day’s penultimate climb.

He fell from eight minutes behind in the overall standings to 19:04 back of leader Primoz Roglic, reportedly citing knee and back problems.

“It’s a bit of a test of pride, passion, and character now,” Ineos team manager Dave Brailsford said, according to VeloNews.com. “As far as we are concerned, this is the first day of trying to win the Tour next year.”

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

Ineos Grenadiers’ streak of five straight Tour crowns dating to 2015 — when it was Team Sky led by Chris Froome — will end when the three-week race finishes in Paris on Sunday. Froome, a four-time Tour winner leaving for a new team next season, and 2018 Tour champion Geraint Thomas were both left off the Ineos Tour squad.

The justification was that neither was physically ready for a three-week Grand Tour, especially Froome, coming back from a June 2020 crash into the wall of a house that nearly ended his career.

“People are entitled to their opinions, but I didn’t gamble with the selection,” Brailsford said, according to Cyclingnews.com. “They were big decisions. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. I’m sure that people have a lot to say, but they’re not privy to the facts that I’ve got.”

In the four remaining competitive stages, Roglic and Tadej Pogacar are expected to duel to become the first Slovenian to win the Tour.

Roglic, of the new dominant team Jumbo-Visma, kept his 40-second lead over younger Pogacar on Tuesday. Pogacar attacked twice in the last two kilometers of the minor finishing climb, but Roglic followed him each time.

Sixteen minutes earlier, German Lennard Kämna of Bora-Hansgrohe won the stage from a breakaway, but he has no hope of making the overall podium.

The Tour continues Wednesday with the 17th stage, a more daunting mountain day starting at the 1968 Winter Olympic host of Grenoble and finishing at Meribel, a site of 1992 Olympic Alpine skiing, with the highest summit finish of the Tour.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 6 a.m. ET.

Roglic and Pogacar both called Wednesday the “Queen Stage,” or the most demanding.

“Tadej is the closest rival, and I expect he’ll try to attack,” Roglic said, according to Cyclingnews.com. “The other guys will probably look after each other.”

MORE: How Roglic beat Luka Doncic in Slovenia

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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