Lanterne rouge incumbent Dan McLay ill and unsure if he’ll make it through the Alps

Dan McLay is ill and has finished last in the two most recent Tour de France stages.

British rider Dan McLay has admitted that he didn’t think he would beat the time cut on stage 15 of the Tour de France – and he doesn’t know how he’ll fare in the Alps this week.

The Fortuneo-Oscaro sprinter finished over 38 minutes behind race winner Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) in Le Puy-en-Velay, and on stage 16 was dead last yet again.

He is the current lanterne rouge, with fellow Brit Luke Rowe (Team Sky) 18 minutes ahead of him.

Speaking to Cycling Weekly before stage 16, McLay said that he is dealing with illness: “I’m struggling a little bit. I feel like I am getting a little bit sick right now but I will try and make it through. I just a feel a bit knackered, to be honest.”

With the Alps coming up in the next two stages, McLay appreciates that he could be fighting off the chasing broom wagon yet again, a situation he has found himself in in each of the last two days of racing.

“I struggle anywhere when it goes up hill and I think not feeling 100 percent, it makes it a little harder.

“Days in the mountains are harder for me. It’s a bit stressed at the end of a sprint day, but at least you’re racing for something. These days are long days in your head.

“I can’t tell you how I’ll ride [in the Alps]. I don’t know the answers.”

After stage 15, the Leicestershire-raised 25-year-old, who finished third on a stage of the 2016 Tour, refused to comment to the media such was his tiredness.

Reflecting on his solo ride through the Massif Central, he said: “It was a long day mentally and I was on my own since the first climb of the day.

“I just kept riding and to be honest I thought I wouldn’t make it [the time cut] but thankfully I did.”

At the start of stage 16, McLay was presented with a red lantern by a Belgian journalist, to which he wasn’t so impressed with. But he said: “I’d rather be last and not here.” For now, McLay remains in the Tour.

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USA, France And Mexico Win First Diving Medals At Worlds

Photo Courtesy: FINA

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Today at the World Championships, the women competed in preliminaries and semi finals on ten meter platform, and the first team event took place.

After semifinals on platform, twelve women move onto finals. Currently standing in the top two positions is Si Yajie and Ren Qian, both from China. They are trailed by Kim Kuk Hyang of the People’s Republic of Korea and Meaghan Benfeito of Canada.

Jessica Parratto from the United States is currently tied for eighth place with Pandelela Pamg from Malaysia.

The German and British women will not be continuing onto finals, which takes place tomorrow.

The ten meter and three meter mixed team diving event, which also took place today, is not an Olympic event. It is diving’s version of a relay.

Similarly to mixed synchro, the team event involves two partners, one male and one female. The duo must perform six dives, three on three meter and three on ten meter. Each diver must perform three dives, and at least one from each height.

The six dive list, also similarly to the synchro event, includes two voluntaries, where the degree of difficulty is 2.0 regardless of the dive, and then four optional dives. The voluntaries must be performed in the first two rounds, and one by each diver, and they can be done on the same board.

The top three teams this year finished only 10.5 points apart. Earning a gold medal, Matthieu Rosset and Laura Marino of France took the top spot. They were followed by Rommel Pacheco Marrufo and Viviana del Angel Paniche from Mexico. The Bronze medal team was Krysta Palmer and David Dinsmore from the United States.

These are the first diving medals at Worlds for France, Mexico and the United States this year.

The Mexican and French teams were in a close battle until the end. France secured their victory with their final dive, a forward double twisting two and a half pike (5154B) that earned them 81.6 points.

Surprisingly, the Chinese team finished in sixth place.

Tomorrow, along with the women’s platform finals, the men will compete in the preliminaries and semifinals on three meter springboard.

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George Bennett on abandoning Tour de France: “You can’t describe it, it sucks

LottoNL-Jumbo’s George Bennett says that he will look at to race the Vuelta a España after man flu caused him to abandon the Tour de France

LottoNL-Jumbo’s George Bennett is “devastated” that he has been forced to abandon the Tour de France with a “serious case of man flu”.

The New Zealand-born rider was sitting in 12th position at the beginning of stage 16, over six minutes minutes off leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).

He started to get ill on Sunday’s stage to Le Puy-en-Velay, and his condition worsened during yesterday’s rest day, when he was unable to eat solid food. He started today’s stage but unpinned his numbers early on.

“I’m devastated to leave,” the 27-year-old said. “I dedicated everything to this race. I spent however many months of my life sitting at the top of the mountain and I’m going home.

>>> Dan Martin’s hopes of winning Tour de France ‘probably over’ after losing time in crosswinds

“It wasn’t a nice moment [when he quit]. Sitting on the side of the road, you don’t roll into Paris with the planes flying over your head, you get in a team car and get on a plane home to Girona.

“One of the worst things you can do as a bike racer is to leave a bike race, and the Tour de France… you can’t describe it, it sucks.

Stage 16 of the Tour de France highlights

“That’s part of the job and I knew that when I came here. You have crazy highs and crazy lows. You just have to keep your feet on the ground and put it into perspective. I’ve still had an amazing few weeks here.”

Bennett hoped that he would be able to ride to the finish of stage 16 in Romans-sur-Isère without losing any time to his general classification rivals, but he quickly realised that wouldn’t be possible.

>>> Michael Matthews unhappy after being ‘grabbed’ by John Degenkolb in post-race spat (video)

“At kilometre 0.1, when it was straight out of the blocks, I already knew I was in trouble,” he said. “I hoped for a miracle that it would be a day I could get through and survive for the mountains.

“We said I should ride as long as I could, but in the end you start doing serious damage and it’s really dangerous to race when you have a fever.

“On Sunday I noticed I had a fever on the stage. I really struggled and had to drag myself over the hills.

“On the rest day I woke up thinking I was OK, but in the afternoon, I couldn’t even eat dinner so they made me a milkshake.

>>> Dave Brailsford: Team Sky have an advantage in the Alps, but Tour could come down to the Champs-Élysées

“I’m sorry to everyone who has backed me, but that’s bike racing. There’s plenty more of them and you have got to remind yourself it’s just a bike race.”

Bennett now hopes to ride San Sebastian at the of the month, before possibly targeting another top-10 in the Vuelta a España, where his best result was tenth on GC in 2016.

“I hope I can be back for San Sebastian,” he confirmed. “The Vuelta is definitely on the radar now, so I’ll see if I can recover from this one first. But I still have a serious case of man flu.”

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Russia Defends Synchro Team Technical Gold in Budapest

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The women of Russia successfully defended their World Championships title during finals of the Team Technical routine during day five of competition. Today’s victory marked the third synchro gold medal that Russia has won so far in Budapest.

Of the eight members on the team only Vlada Chigireva and Maria Shurochkina were also on the gold-medal winning team in Kazan. The two veterans were joined by newcomers Anastasia Bayandina, Veronika Kalinina, Daria Bayandina, Maryna Goliadkina, Polina Komar, and Darina Valitova, performing to the song “The Rhythms of the City.” As a team they scored a total of 96.01.09 points improving upon the 95.7457 score that won gold in 2015.

Following their gold medal performance, Team Russia spoke to FINA and the associated press, explaining,

“We have a new team. That’s why we were nervous about our performance. The newcomers don’t have enough experience of competing at such important championships. Well, to tell you the truth, we are always concerned about the result – not the scores but the performance in general. We are very happy with the marks in the final, we improved after the prelims. Although there is no limit for excellence. Because, first of all, we have to overcome ourselves.”

China defended their 2015 silver medal with a 94.2165 score, while Japan once again finished third at the World Championships with a score of 93.1590.

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Scapular Stability for Swimmers: The Importance of developing “Iron Scaps”

by Brad Jones, Bellingham Bay Swim Team Coach

We all know that the shoulders can take a lot of abuse with swimming.  At some point in your swimming career you will most likely experience some type of shoulder issue.

The shoulder is a very mobile joint, and being so mobile, it needs to be well controlled by the muscles and ligaments that surround the joint. Over-training, fatigue, hypermobility, poor stroke technique, weakness, tightness, previous shoulder injury or use of hand paddles can lead to your muscles and ligaments being overworked. If this goes on, injuries such as rotator cuff impingement and tendonitis, bursitis, capsule and ligament damage, or cartilage damage can occur.

With the repetitive overhead, internal rotation of the shoulders in swimming while pulling forcefully down, the front of the shoulder tends to get over worked. This is where problems can occur.  For the past five years here at the Bellingham Bay Swim Team (BBST), we have spent time in every dry land session doing some scapular stabilization exercises that have paid huge dividends.  We have seen very few shoulder injuries and the swimmers have developed strong, balanced shoulders that have helped performance in the pool.

There are many scapula (shoulder blades) stabilization exercises that we do daily. I would like to share two.  The focus of these exercises is to strengthen and mobilize the 17 muscles that attach to the scapula.  Doing this, will help take the pressure off of the front of the shoulder and create more balance.

We do these types of exercises prior to or after dry land or practice in the pool.  This is not something that you do to failure.  The goal is to activate the muscles attaching to the scapula. We want them “online” prior to and after a big workout.

Scap Pull Up:

-Either hanging or standing, place your hands on a pull up bar, palms facing away. (Hanging is more difficult, but what you should be working towards.)

  • Relax the neck. Lock the elbows. Slowly start to draw your scapulas down the back and toward the spine, as if you were going to put them in your back pockets.
  • Slowly let the scapulas slide up, gliding up the rib cage.
  • The only things moving are the scapulas.
  • Repeat for 10 reps. Do 3-4 sets of 10 reps.

Scap Circles:

  • On hands and knees, hands placed slightly wider than the shoulders.
  • Have head in line with the spine, and lock elbows.
  • Move scapulas down the back, then slide them out to the side and back up and in at the top. Do this for 10 reps.
  • Reverse the direction of the scapulas: up the back, out to the side, and then back down and towards the spine.
  • Don’t arch the back.  
  • It takes practice, but the only thing moving should be the scapulas.
  • 3 sets of 10 circles in each direction.

Watch the full video below:

BBST Shoulder Savers from Brad Jones on Vimeo.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff. All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.

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Michael Matthews unhappy after being ‘grabbed’ by John Degenkolb in post-race spat (video)

Degenkolb apparently upset with Matthews’ sprint on stage 16 of the Tour de France

Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) has registered his discontent after a spat with Tour de France stage 16 runner up John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) after the finish in Romans-sur-Isère.

A video shortly after the finish line, where the Australian won ahead of Degenkolb by a wheel’s length, shows the incident, which will not be digested well at a Tour de France that has already saw Peter Sagan disqualified for irregular sprinting.

The footage shows Degenkolb ride up from behind on the right and appear to strike Matthews on the back of the head and left ear.

“I was waiting for the result and he grabbed me on the way past,” Matthews said. “The officials saw it. We’ll see what the officials will do about it. I don’t think it’s very sportsmanlike.”

In the jury post-stage press release, Degenkolb failed to appear with other violations, including four riders fined 100 Swiss Francs for sticky bottles.

The UCI jury, ever-vigilant after the stage four Sagan incident, could still decide on the newly emerged footage. In 2010, when Carlos Barredo attacked Rui Costa after the finish, the jury fined them 400 Swiss Francs each, with Barredo also receiving a two month ban at the start of the 2011 season.

>>> Five talking points from stage 16 of the Tour de France

Trek-Segafredo lodged a complained against Matthews’s sprint, saying that the Australian nudged the German sprinter in the final metres of Tuesday’s stage, a charge that Matthews rejected.

“From my perspective, I don’t think I did anything wrong. I didn’t change my line, I sprinted in a straight line,” Matthews responded.

“I’m not sure what was wrong with Degenkolb, but that’s up to him.”

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Grevers, Adrian, Beisel, Meili Named Team USA Captains for World Champs

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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The U.S. team bound for the FINA World Championships in Budapest has named its four captains: Matt Grevers and Nathan Adrian for the men and Elizabeth Beisel and Katie Meili for the women.

Grevers, Adrian and Beisel are all veterans in the captain’s role, with both Adrian and Beisel having jointly led the Olympic swim team last summer. The other four captains from that Olympic team, Michael PhelpsAnthony ErvinAllison Schmitt and Cammile Adams, are all absent from the Worlds team.

This year’s meet will mark Grevers’ fourth World Championships, Adrian’s fifth and Beisel’s sixth. For Meili, it is her first, as last year’s Olympics was her debut on a senior U.S. international squad.

The U.S. team is departing Wednesday from training camp in Opatija, Croatia, to head to Budapest.

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Johanna Konta says she has 'massive room for improvement' despite Wimbledon semi-final

Johanna Konta's Wimbledon run this year was her second major semi-final after the 2016 Australian Open

Johanna Konta says she can significantly improve her game despite reaching the Wimbledon semi-final and fourth in the world rankings.

The 26-year-old British number one is taking a short break ahead of preparation for the US Open in August.

“I think I’ve got a massive amount of room to grow in all areas of my game to be quite honest,” she told BBC Sport.

Australian-born Konta said she is proud to represent Great Britain after her nationality was questioned.

‘Leaving no stone unturned’

Konta became the first British woman since Virginia Wade 39 years earlier to reach the Wimbledon last four.

But she is determined to make further progress towards her goals of becoming world number one and winning grand slams.

“I know there’s a lot of work to be done between now and achieving such things,” she said.

“I definitely feel I can physically improve, I’d like to get stronger, move even better on the court – maximise my movement.”

Konta, who was ranked 150 at the start of 2015, often speaks of the mental “process” she relies upon during her rise up the rankings and believes experience will improve her tactical game.

“I’m constantly looking to be more mentally strong and technically sound. I’m trying to leave no stone unturned,” she said.

Johanna Konta moved to the UK when she was 14

‘This is the place I miss when I’m away’

Konta said she was proud to represent Great Britain after her nationality was questioned by BBC presenter John Humphrys on Radio 4’s Today programme.

The veteran interviewer said: “We talk about you as being British, but you were born in Hungary, Australian citizenship, and I seem to remember that the Australian high commissioner, when you won the quarter-final, said: ‘Great to see an Aussie win’, and we were saying: ‘Great to see a Brit win’ – so, what are you?”

She laughed before replying: “I was actually born in Australia to Hungarian parents, but I have lived half my life here now, almost. So, I’m a British citizen, and I’m incredibly proud to represent Great Britain. I have done so officially since 2012.”

Konta, who came to the UK aged 14, later told BBC Sport of her bond with Britain.

“This is my home, where I consider to be from and where I come back to. This is the place I miss when I am away,” she said.

“People are entitled to their opinion, but this is the only place I’ve truly represented and will continue to do so.

“I’m a British citizen and representing Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics was one of the proudest moments of my career.”

Some newspaper reports during Wimbledon referenced the fact that five years ago Konta did not know the words to the national anthem.