Mark Cavendish wins 31st Tour de France stage after 3-year absence

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FOUGERES, France (AP) — This time, they were happy tears.

In October last year, Mark Cavendish posted an insignificant 74th place at the Belgian classic Gent-Wevelgem. Depressed and dejected, with his contract with the Bahrain McLaren team almost over, the sprinter from the Isle of Man suggested in an emotional post-race interview it could well have been his final race.

On Tuesday at the Tour de France, the tears of sadness made way for those of happiness after the “Manx Missile” posted a 31st stage win at cycling’s biggest event.

“Just being here is special enough. I didn’t think I would ever get to come back to this race,” said Cavendish, the greatest sprinter in the race’s history.

The 36-year-old veteran sat on the road and cried after his triumph in the fourth stage. He was congratulated by teammates, who worked hard in the stage finale to put Cavendish in an excellent position for the sprint.

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“You just see what a great team this is. You’ve got the green jersey, the world champion Julian Alaphilippe coming to do the final pull just to try to catch the breakaway, putting everything in,” Cavendish said. “So many people didn’t believe in me but these guys do.”

After all the doubts about his future, Cavendish secured a new contract with his former Deceuninck-Quick Step team. He convinced manager Patrick Lefevere he could perform at the top level again but he was not expected to ride at the Tour and did not train specifically for the three-week race.

He received a last-minute call-up earlier this month, as a replacement for Sam Bennett, the best sprinter of last year’s Tour.

“Three weeks ago I would not have imagined this,” said Cavendish, who is back at the Tour for the first time since 2018.

Lefevere’s bet paid off in the town of Fougeres, where Cavendish had already won in 2015. With a perfectly timed burst of speed — he reached an average speed of 63 kph (39 mph) in the last 500 meters — Cavendish edged Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni and Jasper Philipsen of Belgium.

Cavendish is second on the all-time list for the most stage wins behind Belgian great Eddy Merckx on 34. Cavendish’s previous stage win dated back to 2016.

Cavendish took a break from cycling after being diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus for the second time in 2018. The former world champion enjoyed a resurgence earlier this season with five stage wins after returning to Deceuninck-Quick Step.

Mathieu van der Poel kept the race leader’s yellow jersey with an eight-second lead over Alaphilippe ahead of Wednesday’s first time trial.

Riders staged a protest at the start of the 93.4-mile flat stage to complain about perceived dangerous racing conditions after a flurry of crashes in the previous days reignited the issue of road safety.

Having left the town of Redon in the western Brittany region to start Stage 4, the peloton rode at a moderate pace and all riders got off their bikes after about one kilometer. They waited silently for about a minute before hitting the road again.

After the crash-filled Stage 3, several riders have criticized race organizers for setting up what they considered a dangerous finale to a Tour stage, especially in the early days of the race when nervousness is at its highest level.

An early breakaway formed soon after the protest as Tour debutant Bret Van Moer and Pierre-Luc Perichon moved away from the pack. They collaborated well and had a maximum lead of more than three minutes before the peloton stepped up the pace.

Van Moer dropped Perichon with 14 kilometers left in a final shot at glory and produced a powerful effort to resist the peloton’s chase until the last 100 meters.

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Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in winning the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:09 to lower the previous record time of 2:01:39 he set in the German capital in 2018.

Kipchoge, 37 and a two-time Olympic champion, earned his 15th win in 17 career marathons to bolster his claim as the greatest runner in history over 26.2 miles.

His pacing was not ideal. Kipchoge slowed in the final miles, running 61:18 for the second half after going out in an unprecedented 59:51 for the first 13.1 miles. He still won by 4:49 over Kenyan Mark Korir.

“I was planning to go through it [the halfway mark] 60:50, 60:40,” Kipchoge said. “My legs were running actually very fast. I thought, let me just try to run two hours flat, but all in all, I am happy with the performance.

“We went too fast [in the first half]. It takes energy from the muscles. … There’s still more in my legs [to possibly lower the record again].”

MORE: Berlin Marathon Results

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the women’s race in 2:15:37, the third-fastest time in history for somebody who ran one prior marathon in 2:34:01. Only Brigid Kosgei (2:14:14 in Chicago in 2019) and Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25 in London in 2003) have gone faster.

American record holder Keira D’Amato, who entered as the top seed, was sixth in 2:21:48. D’Amato, who went nearly a decade between competitive races after college, owns the American record of 2:19:12 and now also the 10th-best time in U.S. history.

“Today wasn’t my best day ever, but it was the best I could do today,” she said in a text message, according to Race Results Weekly, adding that she briefly stopped and walked late in the race.

The last eight instances the men’s marathon world record has been broken, it has come on the pancake-flat roads of Berlin. It began in 2003, when Kenyan Paul Tergat became the first man to break 2:05.

The world record was 2:02:57 — set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — until Kipchoge broke it for the first time four years ago.

The following year, Kipchoge became the first person to cover 26.2 miles in under two hours, clocking 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible showcase rather than a race.

Kipchoge’s focus going forward is trying to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles in Paris in 2024. He also wants to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. He’s checked off four of them, only missing Boston (run in April) and New York City (run every November).

Kipchoge, the 2003 World 5000m champion at age 18, moved to the marathon after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team on the track.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final