2022 Tour de France: Cyclists to watch

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Ten riders to watch at the Tour de France, live on NBC Sports and Peacock from July 1-24 (broadcast/streaming schedule here) … 

Tadej Pogacar
UAE Team Emirates/Slovenia
2020, 2021 Tour de France winner

In 2020, Pogacar became at 21 the second-youngest winner in race history, after Henri Cornet in 1904, and the first man in more than 60 years to pedal in the yellow jersey for the first time on the final day of a Tour. In 2021, Pogacar was more dominant, taking the lead on stage eight and holding it through the end of the Tour. He won by 5 minutes, 20 seconds, the largest gap since 2014. Pogacar enters as the clear favorite to join Chris Froome as three-peat Tour de France champions in the last 27 years (not including the stripped Lance Armstong). He can also join Eddy Merckx as the only men to win the Tour in each of their first three starts. Again, the question is whether a deep team like Jumbo-Visma can find the winning strategy to take him down.

Primoz Roglic
2020 Tour de France runner-up

The converted junior champion ski jumper was the favorite to win the 2020 Tour and wore the yellow jersey in the decisive penultimate stage. But Pogacar won that crucial time trial by a monstrous 81 seconds, easily erasing the 57-second deficit to Roglic. Still, it was a historic Slovenian one-two on the podium in Paris. In 2021, Roglic withdrew before the ninth stage of the Tour after being compromised by a crash six days earlier. This year, Roglic won the Criterium du Dauphine, a key Tour lead-up race.

Jonas Vingegaard
2021 Tour de France runner-up

Assumed Jumbo-Visma’s leader role after Roglic withdrew from last year’s Tour in his second-ever Grand Tour. Performed admirably, dropping Pogacar on Mont Ventoux en route to his overall runner-up finish, well back of Pogacar. Seven years younger than Roglic, he may be not only the team’s the future, but also its present. He was second at the Dauphine behind Roglic, and they may be ticketed for co-leader roles at the Tour in an effort to dethrone Pogacar.

Geraint Thomas
Ineos Grenadiers/Great Britain
2018 Tour de France winner

Ineos isn’t the dominant force it once was. Neither is Thomas, who is 36 years old. Younger teammates Adam Yates and Dani Martinez may be better shots at the Tour podium, but Thomas is the unquestioned face of the team. He did win the Tour de Suisse, which is one of two primary Tour lead-up races along with the Dauphine. The Tour de Suisse field did not include Pogacar, Roglic or Vingegaard.

Chris Froome
Israel–Premier Tech/Great Britain
2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 Tour de France winner

The most decorated cyclist in the field with seven titles across the three Grand Tours, the last coming in 2018. Hasn’t been a general classification contender since 2019, when he broke his right femur, elbow and several ribs, was in intensive care and underwent surgery for several hours after crashing into a wall at 34 miles per hour. At 37, who knows how many Tours he has left.

Peter Sagan
Record seven-time Tour de France green jersey champion

Won his most recent green jersey title for sprinters in 2019, which was also the last time he won a stage. Withdrew from last year’s Tour before stage 12 due to a knee injury. Rival Mark Cavendish went on to win the green jersey competition, but Cavendish wasn’t selected for this year’s Tour. Withdrew from the Tour de Suisse afte testing positive for COVID-19 for a third time, though he said he didn’t have symptoms.

Fabio Jakobsen
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl/Netherlands
2021 Vuelta a Espana sprint champion

Replaced Cavendish as Quick-Step’s sprinter and may be the green jersey favorite in his Tour debut at age 25. Won five stages at the 2021 Vuelta a Espana and has 10 wins overall this year. In 2020, suffered a Tour of Poland finish line crash that resulted in him being placed in a medically induced coma. Injuries included brain and lung contusions, skull fractures, a broken nose and the loss of 10 teeth.

Wout van Aert
Six-time Tour de France stage winner

A support rider for Roglic in recent years, van Aert added green jersey ambitions this year. You have to take him seriously, given his credentials: three world titles in cyclo-cross, Olympic and world championships medals in the time trial and road race, a stage winner in each of the last three Tours and fourth in the king of the mountains standings last year. Hit one of his knees against his handlebars in a training ride 10 days before the Tour and withdrew from Belgian nationals as a precaution.

Sepp Kuss
Lone American to win Tour de France stage since 2011

There was a bit of concern that Kuss might not make Jumbo-Visma’s deep Tour de France roster. But he’s back in his usual role in support of the team leader(s) Roglic (and Vingegaard). In 2020, Kuss was often the man riding in front of Roglic on the major climbs. In 2021, the native of Durango, Colorado, won a stage after Roglic withdrew. The last time an American won a Tour stage was sprinter Tyler Farrar in 2011.

Filippo Ganna
Ineos Grenadiers/Italy
Two-time reigning world time trial champion

Succeeded Australian Rohan Dennis as the world’s top time trialist. Fifth on a hilly Tokyo Olympic course. Here, he will be favored to wear the yellow jersey in his Tour debut given the first stage is a flat time trial. Ganna is also an Olympic and world champion in track cycling in pursuit events.

NBC Sports research contributed to this report.

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At the French Open, a Ukrainian mom makes her comeback


Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, once the world’s third-ranked tennis player, is into the French Open third round in her first major tournament since childbirth.

Svitolina, 28, swept 2022 French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan of Italy, then beat Australian qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 32 at Roland Garros. She next plays 56th-ranked Russian Anna Blinkova, who took out the top French player, fifth seed Caroline Garcia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 on her ninth match point.

Svitolina’s husband, French player Gael Monfils, finished his first-round five-set win after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. She watched that match on a computer before going to sleep ahead of her 11 a.m. start Wednesday.

“This morning, he told me, ‘I’m coming to your match, so make it worth it,'” she joked on Tennis Channel. “I was like, OK, no pressure.

“I don’t know what he’s doing here now. He should be resting.”

Also Wednesday, 108th-ranked Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis ousted three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in four and a half hours. Wawrinka’s exit leaves Novak Djokovic as the lone man in the draw who has won the French Open and Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz as the lone men left who have won any major.

The top seed Alcaraz beat 112th-ranked Taro Daniel of Japan 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The Spaniard gets 26th seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada in the third round. Djokovic, the No. 3 seed, swept 83rd-ranked Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (2), 6-0, 6-3 to reach a third-round date with 29th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Svitolina made at least one major quarterfinal every year from 2017 through 2021, including the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019. She married Monfils one week before the Tokyo Olympics, then won a singles bronze medal.

Svitolina played her last match before maternity leave on March 24, 2022, one month after Russia invaded her country. She gave birth to daughter Skai on Oct. 15.

Svitolina returned to competition in April. Last week, she won the tournament preceding the French Open, sweeping Blinkova to improve to 17-3 in her career in finals. She’s playing on a protected ranking of 27th after her year absence and, now, on a seven-match win streak.

“It was always in my head the plan to come back, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself, because obviously with the war going on, with the pregnancy, you never know how complicated it will go,” she said. “I’m as strong as I was before, maybe even stronger, because I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court, and match by match I’m getting better. Also mentally, because mental can influence your physicality, as well.”

Svitolina said she’s motivated by goals to attain before she retires from the sport and to help Ukraine, such as donating her prize money from last week’s title in Strasbourg.

“These moments bring joy to people of Ukraine, to the kids as well, the kids who loved to play tennis before the war, and now maybe they don’t have the opportunity,” she said. “But these moments that can motivate them to look on the bright side and see these good moments and enjoy themselves as much as they can in this horrible situation.”

Svitolina was born in Odesa and has lived in Kharkiv, two cities that have been attacked by Russia.

“I talk a lot with my friends, with my family back in Ukraine, and it’s a horrible thing, but they are used to it now,” she said. “They are used to the alarms that are on. As soon as they hear something, they go to the bomb shelters. Sleepless nights. You know, it’s a terrible thing, but they tell me that now it’s a part of their life, which is very, very sad.”

Svitolina noted that she plays with a flag next to her name — unlike the Russians and Belarusians, who are allowed to play as neutral athletes.

“When I step on the court, I just try to think about the fighting spirit that all of us Ukrainians have and how Ukrainians are fighting for their values, for their freedom in Ukraine,” she said, “and me, I’m fighting here on my own front line.”

Svitolina said that she’s noticed “a lot of rubbish” concerning how tennis is reacting to the war.

“We have to focus on what the main point of what is going on,” she said. “Ukrainian people need help and need support. We are focusing on so many things like empty words, empty things that are not helping the situation, not helping anything.

“I want to invite everyone to focus on helping Ukrainians. That’s the main point of this, to help kids, to help women who lost their husbands because they are at the war, and they are fighting for Ukraine.

“You can donate. Couple of dollars might help and save lives. Or donate your time to something to help people.”

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw