Egan Bernal withdraws from Tour de France

Egan Bernal
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GRENOBLE, France — Defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal has pulled out of the race ahead of a mammoth stage in the Alps, his Ineos Grenadiers team said Wednesday.

Bernal had been struggling since last weekend’s stage in the Jura mountains, where he dropped more than seven minutes on the main contenders and slipped out of contention.

Hampered by back pain, the 23-year-old rider lost more time during Tuesday’s first Alpine stage.

Bernal was in 16th place overall, 19 minutes and fours seconds behind race leader Primoz Roglic.

“This is obviously not how I wanted my Tour de France to end, but I agree that it is the right decision for me in the circumstances,” Bernal said. “I have the greatest respect for this race and I’m already looking forward to coming back in the years ahead.”

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

Last year, Bernal became the first Colombian to win the Tour, and the youngest champion of the post-World War II era. His team said Bernal will try to recover as quickly as possible and redefine his goals for the rest of the season.

“We have taken this decision with Egans’ best interests at heart,” Ineos manager Dave Brailsford said. “Egan is a true champion who loves to race, but he is also a young rider, with many Tours ahead of him.”

Bernal’s withdrawal marked the end of Ineos’ dominance at cycling’s biggest event.

The successful period started in 2012 with Bradley Wiggins’ victory, when the team was called Team Sky. The squad won seven of the last eight editions with four different riders, but its best-placed rider this year is Richard Carapaz, who stood 14th ahead of Wednesday’s Stage 17.

Arguably the toughest, the trek features the Col de La Madeleine and the Col de La Loze, the Tour’s highest point this year at 2,304 meters.

The traffic-free pass between the ski resorts of Meribel and Courchevel was opened to cyclists this year after a forest track was paved by local authorities. The last six kilometers of the climb are particularly difficult, with very steep sections and sharp turns.

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
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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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