Sepp Kuss is first American to win Tour de France stage in 10 years

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ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra — Sepp Kuss couldn’t suppress a wide grin as he raced toward the finish line to become the first American in 10 years to win a stage at the Tour de France.

After winning Sunday’s grueling 15th stage, Kuss threw his sunglasses into the crowd and put his arms in the air before covering his face, succumbing to emotion and exhaustion.

Tyler Farrar had been the last American to win a stage at cycling’s biggest race in 2011.

“It’s incredible, I’m lost for words,” Kuss said.

The 26-year-old Colorado native left it late to make his move in the punishing 118-mile ride from Ceret at the foothills of the Pyrenees to the tiny mountain-bound nation of Andorra.

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“This was Sepp’s day,” said Jumbo-Visma teammate Wout van Aert, who helped put Kuss in a position to break. “He lives in Andorra and he was looking forward to this stage.”

The American attacked going up the 1,796-meter Col de Beixalis and maintained his hard-fought advantage over Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde, who finished 23 seconds behind.

“To be honest, I was suffering a lot in this Tour de France. I didn’t feel like I had the spice in the legs. Today I knew it was finishing where I live, so I was motivated for the stage,” Kuss said.

Col de Beixalis was the steepest climb in a day of many ascents in the Pyrenees. Kuss’ average speed going up was 12.7 mph, and 36 mph going down, where he clocked a maximum speed of 50 mph.

“I don’t ride to Col de Beixalis much in training because it’s so hard, but I knew if I had a good gap, I’d stay away till the finish. Wout van Aert did a great job for me in the valley. It means a lot to me to win a Tour de France stage,” Kuss said.

Dutch rider Wout Poels finished third and took over the polka dot jersey for the best climber.

“It’s obviously going to be a great battle for the mountains jersey,” Poels said.

Race leader Tadej Pogacar enjoyed an uneventful day and remained on course for his second overall victory.

The defending champion was only questioned toward the end of the stage as Jonas Vingegaard followed Ben O’Connor’s example with two attacks.

Pogacar answered both without any problems and increased his overall lead to more than five minutes over Rigoberto Uran and Vingegaard.

“I felt good, and I wasn’t worried at all about the last climb. I just needed to follow the other riders there, as I did,” Pogacar said. “My team did a great job at protecting me all day long, providing me with everything I needed. The key today was to keep myself hydrated, to have water available all the time, and my teammates did that job perfectly.”

Guillaume Martin, who was second overall ahead of the stage, dropped back to ninth.

Before the final tussles on Col de Beixalis, riders had to overcome the 2,408-meter Port d’Envalira, where Nairo Quintana made a break after a strong headwind forced riders across the road. Quintana was first to the summit before he was hauled back. Quintana tried again on Col de Beixalis before Kuss took over.

Nacer Bouhanni, who had been suffering since a big crash on Stage 13, quit after the intermediate sprint with 124.5 kilometers remaining.

The rest of the riders have a chance to recover on the tour’s second rest day Monday before more climbs await on Tuesday.

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Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

Emily Sisson
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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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