American Neilson Powless nearly rides into Tour de France lead

Neilson Powless
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American Neilson Powless nearly cycled into the Tour de France lead in the fifth stage.

Australian Simon Clarke, who turns 36 later in the Tour, won the stage, which included 11 sections of cobblestones totaling about 12 miles.

Powless, part of a four man breakaway with Clarke, went for the stage victory with a little more than a kilometer left. But he was caught by the other three men and ended up fourth, four seconds behind Clarke.

Still, Powless improved from 25th place in the overall standings to second behind Belgian Wout van Aert, who crashed during the stage. Powless is 13 seconds behind van Aert, a gap he would have made up if he won the stage in Clarke’s time given the 10-second bonus given to stage winners.

“If we [the breakaway] kept it steady all the way to the line, I definitely would have had yellow, if we all finished together,” Powless said before he learned where he was in the standings. “But 2K to go, the other three guys, they all started playing games. They didn’t want to work anymore.”

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | Broadcast Schedule | Stage by Stage

Greg LeMond is the lone American to officially lead a Tour de France. The three-time Tour winner last did so in 1991.

Four other Americans wore the yellow jersey after LeMond, but all had their results retroactively stripped for doping (Lance ArmstrongDavid ZabriskieGeorge Hincapie and Floyd Landis).

In 2018, Tejay van Garderen missed the chance to wear the yellow jersey due to a tiebreaker.

Powless is not considered a contender to finish on the podium once the Tour finishes in Paris in two and a half weeks.

One of the contenders, Slovenian Primoz Roglic, lost nearly two minutes on Wednesday. Roglic was runner-up to countryman Tadej Pogacar at the 2020 Tour. Pogacar is in fourth place, 19 seconds behind van Aert, but ahead of all of his rivals.

The day saw several incidents, and Van Aert was one of the first to take a tumble but his crash came as the riders were racing towards the first of the 11 cobbled sections. He was able to get back on and catch up with the peloton – although he almost went down again as he clipped the wing mirror of his own team car.

“In my opinion the roads were way too dangerous, everyone expected some stress because of the cobbles but then there was also a lot of narrowings and things on the road,” Van Aert said. “I didn’t want to take risks and the moment when I thought it was necessary to start moving up to the front I immediately crashed because of a narrowing.

“I hurt myself a bit but also I lost a bit of confidence to go really in a fight for position, and it’s a shame because at that point I let down the other boys, and I also was in the back chasing instead of having a good position on the cobbles. So for me from then on it was a fight the whole day.”

Van Aert admitted he didn’t think he would still be in yellow.

“It was a big surprise for me after the finish because I was so much in the back that I was not actually thinking about the jersey anymore,” he said.

Peter Sagan and Caleb Ewan were also involved in incidents as nerves set in. Ewan’s crash came as he hit a hay bale that had come loose from the barriers and that also affected Roglic.

Thursday’s sixth stage is the longest one of the race and is a hilly 220-kilometer route from Binche — in Van Aert’s native Belgium — to Longwy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde
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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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