Jonas Vingegaard all but clinches Tour de France title on final big climb

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The moment that Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard put away his first Tour de France title came Thursday, after some 70 hours on the roads of Europe over the last three weeks.

With 2.7 miles left of the final major climb of cycling’s greatest stage race, Vingegaard and teammate Wout van Aert pedaled away from Vingegaard’s last remaining challenger — two-time reigning Tour champ Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia.

The decisive move came three hours and 48 minutes into the last mountain stage of the Tour. Two minutes later, van Aert peeled off, giving way to Vingegaard to summit the Hautacam alone, collecting his second stage victory this month.

“This morning I said to my girlfriend and my daughter, I wanted to win for them,” Vingegaard said.

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

Vingegaard came into the day with a lead of 2 minutes, 18 seconds over Pogacar. The Slovenian needed to make up a large chunk of that time Thursday to give him a chance to erase the rest in Saturday’s flat 25-mile time trial. Instead, Vingegaard gained another 68 seconds, upping the advantage to an all-but-insurmountable 3:26.

“I went all in for the yellow,” Pogacar said. “I did not give up, I pushed my limits and I’m proud of today. Today the best man won.”

Now, the time trial will likely not be a competition for the yellow jersey. Instead, it’ll be a coronation for Vingegaard, before Sunday’s ceremonial ride into Paris, at a Tour that began in Denmark for the first time.

He will become the second Dane to win the Tour after Bjarne Riis, who prevailed in 1996 and, a decade later after retiring, said he used banned performance-enhancing drugs throughout the 1990s, including during that Tour. Vingegaard, 25, will become the first man to finish second and first in his first two Tours since German Jan Ullrich in 1996 and 1997.

“I don’t want to talk about it yet,” he said. “Let’s talk about that in two days.”

The overall podium is likely set.

Pogacar, who won the Tour in his first two starts, is comfortably in second place, 4:34 ahead of Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour winner. Thomas is another 3:05 up on fourth-place David Gaudu of France.

The 19th of 21 stages is Friday, a flat day for the sprinters that is unlikely to shake up the top of the standings.

Before Thursday’s stage, four-time Tour winner Chris Froome withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19. Froome, who hasn’t been a Grand Tour contender since a career-threatening 2019 training crash, was in 25th place in the overall standings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Noah Lyles runs personal best and is coming for Usain Bolt’s world record

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Noah Lyles ran a personal-best time in the 60m on Saturday, then reaffirmed record-breaking intentions for the 100m and, especially, the 200m, where Usain Bolt holds the fastest times in history.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 60m sprint in 6.51 seconds at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, clipping Trayvon Bromell by two thousandths in his first top-level meet of the year. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, is a past world indoor 60m champion and has a better start than Lyles, which is crucial in a six-second race.

But on Saturday, Lyles ran down Bromell and shaved four hundredths off his personal best. It bodes well for Lyles’ prospects come the spring and summer outdoor season in his better distances — the 100m and 200m.

“This is the moment I’ve been working, like, seven years for,” he said. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Last July, Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old American record in the 200m, winning the world title in 19.31 seconds. Only Bolt (19.19) and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26) have run faster.

Lyles has since spoken openly about targeting Bolt’s world record from 2009.

How does an indoor 60m time play into that? Well, Lyles said that his success last year sprung from a strong indoor season, when he lowered his personal best in the 60m from 6.57 to 6.56 and then 6.55. He followed that by lowering his personal best in the 200m from 19.50 to 19.31.

He believes that slicing an even greater chunk off his 60m best on Saturday means special things are on the horizon come the major summer meets — the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July (on the same Oregon track where he ran the American 200m record) and the world championships in Budapest in August.

After focusing on the 200m last year, Lyles plans to race both the 100m and the 200m this year. He has a bye into the 200m at world championships, so expect him to race the 100m at USATF Outdoors, where the top three are in line to join world champ Fred Kerley on the world team.

Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86, a tenth off the best times from Kerley, Bromell and 2019 World 100m champ Christian Coleman. Bolt is in his own tier at 9.58.

Also Saturday, 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.

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

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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.

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