Tadej Pogacar wins Tour de France mountain stage; new second-place rider

0 Comments

SAINT-LARY-SOULAN, France — Tadej Pogacar said it was going to be the hardest day of the Tour de France.

He made it look easy.

The race leader finished ahead of his rivals and took a major step toward defending his title with a perfectly executed 17th-stage win in the Pyrenees on Wednesday.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | TV, Live Stream Schedule

The 22-year-old Pogacar made his move with 8.5 kilometers to go on Col de Portet when he powered past previous leader Anthony Perez on his way to victory at 2,215 meters above sea level – the highest stage finish this year.

“It has been a fantastic day. To win in the yellow jersey is something I can’t describe,” Pogacar said.

Jonas Vingegaard stayed on Pogacar’s wheel, with Richard Carapaz close behind but Rigoberto Uran, who was previously second in the general classification, was unable to keep pace and dropped back to fourth overall.

David Gaudu gave chase to keep alive hopes of a French win on Bastille Day.

Pogacar didn’t look concerned, however, as he settled into a three-way fight for the line, roared on by noisy roadside fans on the cloud-kissed mountain.

Carapaz attacked with 1.4 kilometers to go. Pogacar followed and Vingegaard appeared to be dropped. But Vingegaard fought back and Pogacar accelerated when he needed to win the sprint. Carapaz finished third.

“Only Jonas and I cooperated to put some distance between us and the rest of the GC favorites,” Pogacar said. “At some point, Jonas came by and told me that he thought Carapaz was bluffing. I knew it also – that’s tactics in pro cycling. When Carapaz attacked, I was very driven to catch him and hold his wheel. I just sprinted out on the last 150 meters.”

It was Pogacar’s first stage win since claiming the yellow jersey on the eighth stage.

The defending champion stretched his lead in the GC to 5 minutes, 39 seconds over Vingegaard, with Carapaz a further four seconds behind.

Pogacar joked Tuesday that he wished he hadn’t cycled Wednesday’s route in advance as it would be better not to know what was to come.

“I know the road, but you need the legs to climb it,” the Slovenian rider said before the start of the unforgiving 178.4-kilometer route. It ended with three major obstacles in a row – the 1,569-meter Col de Peyresourde, then the 1,580-meter Col de Val Louron-Azet, before the hardest, to the top of Col du Portet.

Steven Kruijswijk dropped out after nearly an hour of cycling. The Jumbo-Visma team said Kruijswijk felt ill during the rest day on Monday and that his condition hadn’t improved. It left the team with just four riders – Vingegaard, Wout van Aert, Sepp Kuss and Mike Teunissen.

Nairo Quintana’s hopes of challenging for the polka dot jersey ended when he dropped back 15 kilometers before the summit. The Colombian rider won at Col de Portet three years ago.

Thursday will be the last day in the mountains before the riders can look forward to easier rides on the way to Sunday’s finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The 18th stage from Pau features another mountaintop finish at Luz Ardiden after a long climb up the formidable 2,115-meter Col de Tourmalet.

“Tomorrow is going to be one of the biggest stages of the tour,” Vingegaard said. “And hopefully I’ll be there. I’m going to do my best.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Noah Lyles clips Trayvon Bromell in personal best at New Balance Indoor Grand Prix

0 Comments

Noah Lyles got his 2023 off to a personal-best start, beating Trayvon Bromell in a photo finish in the 60m at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Boston on Saturday.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, ran 6.51 seconds. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, also ran 6.51. Lyles prevailed by two thousandths of a second.

“I’ve been waiting on this for a long time,” Lyles, whose personal best was 6.55, told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Lyles is running the 60m to better his start as he bids to add the 100m to his 200m slate come the outdoor season that starts in the spring.

Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

0 Comments

One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!