‘I still can’t believe it’: Strava stats tell the inside story of Warren Barguil’s Tour de France stage win

Barguil uploads winning ride from scintillating sub-three hour stage

Stage 13 of the Tour de France saw some of the best racing we’ve seen at the Tour in years, with Team Sunweb‘s Warren Barguil emerging victorious at the end of a short, sharp stage.

After missing out by millimetres to Rigoberto Uran on stage nine, Barguil was able to enjoy his first Tour stage victory, later uploading his ride to Strava with the title “J’y crois toujours pas” (“I still can’t believe it”).

>>> Fabio Aru fends off Chris Froome’s attacks to retain Tour de France lead as Warren Barguil wins stage

A number of riders were dropped early on the stage, even before the first climb, and Barguil’s stats show why. The Frenchman got in an early move with Thomas Voeckler, averaging 46kmh for the first 25km of racing, even with the road going up a steady false flat for much of that distance.

After his move with Voeckler was caught, Barguil sat in with the leaders for most of the climb of the Col de Latrape. However near the summit he attacked again, accelerating up to more than 30kmh to draw Alberto Contador and Mikel Landa out of the group of favourites.

>>> Analysis: Froome and Landa’s Tour de France strength could be a problem for their rivals – or for Team Sky

The next climb was the Col d’Agnes, where Barguil dropped back from Contador and Landa to be picked up by a group including Nairo Quintana and Michal Kwiatkowski, the Polish riders taking the KOM on the climb, covering its 10km length and average gradient of 8.2 per cent at just over 20.2kmh.

Barguil and Kwiatkowski then pushed on on the 12.7km descent of the Agnes, Kwiatkowski hitting 95kmh on one straight section midway down the climb. However the fastest descender of the day (on Strava at least) was Fortuneo-Oscaro rider Romain Hardy, who averaged more than 60kmh for the descent, even including a small uphill section midway down.

Watch: Tour de France stage 13 highlights

From there Barguil’s hopes of stage win rested on him catching Contador and Landa on the Mur de Péguère, especially the steep double-digit gradients its final 3.5km.

Those 3.5km took Barguil and Quintana more than 14 minutes, their speed dropping below 10kmh at time. However spare a thought for Elie Gesbert, the youngest rider in the race, who took more than 20 minutes to cover that 3.5km at an average power of 302 watts.

>>> Team Sky enjoy ‘proper racing’ and ‘having fun’ as they look to take yellow jersey off Fabio Aru

At the other end of the spectrum was Romain Bardet, who went up the climb 17 seconds faster than Barguil. That included an acceleration to more than 25kmh to follow Chris Froome‘s attack, not bad considering the 11 per cent gradient at that point.

After the final descent towards Foix, Barguil was able to rest his legs while Quintana, Contador, and Landa worked hard to improve their positions in the general classification, putting the Frenchman in prime position to take the sprint.

With 200m to go the riders came around a hairpin bend at more than 40kmh, before Barguil accelerated up to more than 50kmh to take his first Tour de France stage win.

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How to beat Venus at her best – Clijsters analysis

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Wimbledon 2017 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club Dates: 3-16 July Starts: 11:30 BST
Live: Coverage across BBC TV, BBC Radio and BBC Sport website with further coverage on Red Button, Connected TVs and app. Click for full times.

Venus Williams is looking to win her sixth Wimbledon title when she plays Garbine Muguruza in Saturday’s final, 17 years after winning her first.

The 37-year-old American is the oldest finalist at SW19 since Martina Navratilova in 1994 and victory would make her the oldest winner since Charlotte Cooper Sterry in 1908.

So, what keeps Williams going? What is it like to play against her? And what can Muguruza do stop her claiming yet another triumph on Centre Court?

Former world number one Kim Clijsters tells BBC Sport how it felt to face Williams on the other side of the net, and how it feels watching her from the commentary box now.

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‘Smile shows how much this means to Venus’

Williams is playing in her 20th Wimbledon, and will be competing in her ninth final, nine years after her last triumph here in 2008. She was diagnosed in 2011 with Sjogren’s syndrome, an illness that causes fatigue and joint pain, and her ranking plummeted to 103. She reached last year’s semi-final and is back in the top 10 but weeks before this year’s tournament, she was involved in a Florida car crash in which a man died.

Clijsters: The passion for tennis that I saw when I played Venus Williams on the Tour is a big reason she is still playing now, and preparing for Saturday’s Wimbledon final.

Right from when I first started out, that passion for her sport was something that had a big impact on me.

Venus has done so much for female athletes, and has had a huge influence on the women’s game, and it is just amazing she is still here now, especially with the health issues she has had.

She worked so hard to come back, when we all know she does not have to do this any more – all the travelling and taking care of her body to prevent injuries so she can keep on playing.

Oldest women to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open era (since 1968)
Player Age Grand Slam
Martina Navratilova 37 years, 258 days 1994 Wimbledon
Venus Williams 37 years, 28 days 2017 Wimbledon
Venus Williams 36 years, 226 days 2017 Australian Open
Serena Williams 35 years, 125 days 2017 Australian Open
Martina Navratilova 34 years, 325 days 1991 US Open

I got emotional after her semi-final against Johanna Konta – not because she won, but from watching her afterwards, and the way she walked off court.

Her smile was like it was at her first Wimbledon final in 2000, and this time it probably means just as much.

Venus Williams

I love these kind of stories where people are going through a rough time but then they are able to fight back.

It will just be unbelievable if she ends up winning, with everything that is going on in her private life too.

‘She can always step it up in the big moments’

Venus faced two break points at 4-4 and 15-40 in the first set of her semi-final against Johanna Konta, but won five straight points as she held, then broke the Briton.

Clijsters: Venus is supremely competitive. The level of tennis that she and her younger sister Serena reached made me go back to the gym to try to get fitter and stronger on court.

I had to defend better on court and serve better. Everything had to be better if I was going to stay up there and compete for big tournaments.

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I had a good rivalry with Venus, which was motivational from both sides I think. We had some great matches.

Yet I was really happy to be sitting in the commentary box for her semi-final on Thursday, and not be on the court in front of her.

Her ability to turn it on as she did against Konta, in the big moments as she did at the end of the first set, is exactly what I remember from playing her.

When you have been there before, facing break points at a crucial time in a big match, you can control your emotions and any negative thoughts.

I would try to look at it as just another point, but Venus actually steps things up in those situations – that is what she is so good at.

Oldest women to win a Grand Slam final in the Open era (since 1968)
Player Age Grand Slam
Serena Williams 35 years, 125 days 2017 Australian Open
Serena Williams 34 years, 287 days 2016 Wimbledon
Serena Williams 33 years, 285 days 2015 Wimbledon
Martina Navratilova 33 years, 263 days 1990 Wimbledon
Serena Williams 33 years, 254 days 2015 French Open

‘I had to fight for everything when I beat Venus’

Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams

Clijsters: I was watching Venus in the second set of her win over Konta in the second set and she was totally focused on not letting her back in the match.

It is not that she showed no emotion, but she was just so composed in everything she did, taking her time between shots and even with her breathing – her mouth was closed all the time.

I pay attention to that kind of thing because it tells you a lot about what the player is feeling. With Venus, it showed she was calm and focused. She was saving her energy for when she needed it.

I have been there on the other side of the net when Venus is playing like she did against Konta, serving really well, hitting returns to the lines and being very aggressive, and there is almost nothing you can do.

That is why Venus has done so well down the years at Wimbledon – on grass, the first two shots of each point are very important, and hers are normally better.

Venus Williams 2008

Some days, I would lose to Venus and shake hands at the net and just say “too good”.

But I always believed in my chances against her. Maybe not when I was younger but, as I got older, I definitely felt there was always a moment where she might make a couple of unforced errors.

She would try to put me on the back foot but I felt if I could just hang in there and get some balls back, then I might be able to work my way into an advantage.

I still had to fight for everything every time I beat her, but sometimes her level does drop and you can cause her doubts as well.

‘Serve and return will be crucial’

Venus Williams return points

Clijsters: It was clearly part of Venus’s game plan to stand so far forward when she was returning serve against Konta.

The intention was not to let Jo start dictating, and also to try to force her to make some mistakes. It worked – for the first time at this tournament, I saw Jo get a little bit frustrated towards the end of that match because her game was not working and she did not know what to do any more.

Serve and return will be crucial again for Muguruza in the final. Whenever you play Venus, they both have to be absolutely right.

And you have to try to mix up your serve a little bit – a couple of harder ones, then a couple where you go a bit softer but to the lines – so Venus does not get into a rhythm. Once she does that, it is hard to stop her.

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I don’t think Jo used the body serve enough against her, which is something Muguruza could try.

Instead Konta went wide and gave Venus an angle, which is not a problem for her because she has got the wingspan to deal with those serves, and you almost have to hit it on the line to get an ace.

The body serve is the one where I felt most comfortable against Venus, to try to slice it into her backhand so she had to adjust.

It is awkward for her because she has got such long arms and at times it is actually harder for her to get her body out of the way.

‘A beautiful backhand, but will it hurt Williams?’

Muguruza backhand placement - width

Clijsters: Muguruza’s backhand is her best shot and she likes to use it to dictate the point. If there is a ball in the middle of the court, a lot of girls will take it on the forehand but she will run around and hit the backhand.

I always tell the players I coach to put your upper body into the shot and she does that beautifully. She is always leaning forward.

She hits a lot of really good backhands down the line but she always waits and sets up that shot properly, rather than just letting rip.

It is impressive, but I still don’t know if it will hurt Venus enough. I also think Venus is smart enough to attack Muguruza’s forehand and cause some damage there.

If Venus plays her best tennis, then I think Muguruza can do whatever she wants and it is still not going to make much difference.

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Analysis: Froome and Landa’s Tour de France strength could be a problem for their rivals – or for Team Sky

With two riders in the top five of the Tour de France general classification, Team Sky are in a stronger position than rivals – what tactics could they employ? Or could is pose a problem?

Despite all the anarchy that befell stage 13 at the Tour de France, to a large degree the status quo remained unchanged – Fabio Aru (Astana) remained in the yellow jersey, none of the major favourites were dropped, and Chris Froome (Sky), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) all neither gained nor lost any time in relation to Aru.

There was, however, one crucial shift in the race situation – Mikel Landa is now a serious player on the GC, and a genuine contender for the yellow jersey.

Having unexpectedly lost the yellow jersey on stage 12, Team Sky pulled off an impressive tactical manoeuvre by having Landa launch up the road on the first climb, from which position he was ultimately able to gain 1-46 on the yellow jersey – enough to move him up to fifth overall, just 1-09 behind Aru.

Mikel Landa on stage 13 of the Tour de France (Credit: ASO/Pauline Ballet)

In theory, that should put Sky in a very strong position. Landa will now not only be useful to the team as a super-domestique to pace Froome in the high mountains, and a viable ‘plan B’ should for whatever reason the defending champion’s GC bid come to an end – he’s now also a GC threat in his own right, meaning he and Froome could attack in tandem.

>>> Team Sky enjoy ‘proper racing’ and ‘having fun’ as they look to take yellow jersey off Fabio Aru

That strategy has proven very effective in the past. At the 2008 Tour, Team CSC used Frank Schleck and Carlos Sastre to work over Cadel Evans, with Sastre attacking on Alpe d’Huez in what turned out to be a race-winning move while the Schleck marked the other contenders in the peloton.

Schleck went on to team up in a similar fashion with brother Andy in future Tours, although they were often criticised with being too concerned with the others’ performance rather than landing a significant blow over their rivals. More recently, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde have made for a fearsome co-leader pair at the Tour and Vuelta.

And, while at Astana, Landa himself teamed-up with, ironically, Fabio Aru at the 2015 Giro d’Italia. They ultimately finished third and second respectively behind Alberto Contador, but put the Spaniard under serious pressure that, on the penultimate stage, nearly cracked him.

If Froome and Landa are to form a similar partnership, they need to work coherently together, to ensure they benefit the team rather than their own individual hopes. That might involve Landa, who remains the team’s secondary leader, being willing to commit to the more risky moves, endangering his place on GC in order to set Froome up.

When asked at the finish line, Landa confirmed that Froome ‘no doubt’ remained ‘boss’ of the team. However, there are doubts concerning how selflessly he is willing to ride. He continues to be linked with a move away from Sky, which begs the question of whether he feels he owes the team.

>>> ‘Chris Froome’s still the Team Sky boss’: Mikel Landa to continue in domestique role at Tour de France

And there have been signs that he is prioritising his own ambitions over that of the team – in a revealing albeit largely unnoticed incident on stage five’s finishing climb to Planche des Belles Filles, Landa was dropped before taking his turn at the front of the peloton yet still managed to finish 15th, a sign that he was preserving his own losses rather than using up everything in aid of Froome.

Fabio Aru (second right) and Chris Froome (left) cross the line on stage 13. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

There is also the possibility that Froome is concerned about Landa threatening his status as undisputed leader. Froome proclaimed at the finish line how ‘Landa put in an amazing ride’ and that it was ‘a great outcome for us’, but the amount of energy he and teammate Michal Kwiatkowski expelled in the latter stages of stage 13 while Landa remained up the road appeared to make little tactical sense.

It could be argued that they were concerned with the time Landa’s fellow escapee Quintana was gaining, but if that was the case then why did Landa continue to ride with the Colombian? It seems plausible instead that Froome was cautious not to let his teammate slip ahead of him on the GC.

We’re a long way from all-out warfare in the manner of Bernard Hinault vs Greg LeMond in 1986, or even the hostility between Froome and Bradley Wiggins in 2012 (of which many parallels have already been observed). But with several testing days in the Alps to come, and with the GC still so tightly wound, the potential still exists for another of cycling’s tense teammate fall-outs.

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5 Most Heartbreaking Performances of US Nationals

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Bryan Gu, Swimming World Intern.

Nationals has come and gone, and with it the community has seen the formation of an international roster sporting plenty of rookies ready to represent the United States at the World Championships this summer in Budapest. As with all selection meets, some experienced the joy of making the big team of the summer and gaining the opportunity to represent our country on an international stage, while others felt the disappointment and regret of not being just a few tenths faster.

As swimmers, we all know that this sport presents us with highs and lows. Although there may have been many who felt disappointment throughout the meet, those on the list are swimmers who appeared to be strong performers and likely fillers for those coveted national team spots, yet didn’t quite perform to their own standards.

1. Josh Prenot


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Josh Prenot came into this meet with high expectations placed upon his shoulders. As the Olympic silver medalist and American record holder, Prenot was a heavy favorite in his signature event– the 200 breast. Known for his incredible back half, spectators were unworried as Prenot turned in third place at the 150. But Prenot was unable to run down the charging Kevin Cordes and Nic Fink. With a strong last 50 from lane 5, Fink was able to secure his own World Championship berth with a second place finish, touching out Prenot by .09.

Prenot looked to be close to securing his place in the 200 IM on the final day of World Trials, but was run down in the final 50 by Stanford’s Abrahm Devine. Although undoubtably a surprising turn of events, Prenot highlights the high level of competition that exists in US men’s breaststroke and IM and will undoubtedly return hungrier than ever. 

2. Tom Shields


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

A 2016 Olympian in both the 100 fly and the 200 fly, as well as a 2015 World Championship finalist in these events, Tom Shields is one of the biggest names currently representing United States butterfly. Shields had been a considerable contender in each of the butterfly disciplines, with the 100 fly arguably being his best event. Trailing in the first 50 meters, Shields displayed some of his back-half speed and showed a brief resurgence before ultimately falling to Caeleb Dressel and Tim Phillips in the final 25 meters. His fourth-place finish ultimately proved to be the most heartbreaking for Shields, as it was his final chance to make the World Championship roster. Shields had previously scratched the A final of the 50 fly to focus on the 100.

In the 200 fly, Shields swam a disappointing 1:57.75 in prelims and was edged out of the A final of the 200 by Michigan’s Miles Smachlo. Although Shields was surely rattled by the experience, he has shown that he won’t let this experience shake him. Recent social media posts show nothing but class and support for his American competitors:

3. Jack Conger


Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into Nationals, many fans had Jack Conger as a strong favorite in the 200 free following his impressive performance at last year’s Olympic Trials. He had placed third behind veteran Olympian Conor Dwyer (with only a 0.1 second margin in an impressive 1:45.77) to earn himself a spot on the 4×200 freestyle relay (which took gold in Rio).

But in 2017, despite having a strong swim and first place finish in the 200 fly, Conger appeared to be flat as he failed to qualify for the A final in his Olympic event in 1:47 to conclude his second day of races. Conger will still look to prove himself this summer as a member of the Worlds team. He should be a major player in his signature 200 fly, and there remains a chance that Conger may still find himself on the relay given the his history of success as both a relay swimmer and an individual performer in the event.

4. Michael Andrew


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Michael Andrew rose to fame as the youngest athlete to ever turn pro and one of the most accomplished age group swimmers in history. Despite the numerous age group records Andrew holds, he has not yet made his way onto a summer World, Pan-Pac or Olympic team (though he did compete in 2016 Short Course World Championships). Looking for the opportunity to prove himself on the largest international stage, Andrew created an abundance of opportunities for himself, making the A final in each of the 50 meter events and in the 100 breast.

Andrew didn’t make the 2017 Worlds roster, yet considering his age, Andrew’s performances bode well for this upcoming quad. Andrew will be heading back to Indiana this summer to represent the United States as a member of the our Junior National team at Junior World Championships. As one of the more experienced swimmers on the Junior National Team, Andrew will likely still impress this summer, both as a leader and as an athlete.

5. Ella Eastin


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Unlike the other swimmers on this list, Ella Eastin’s disappointment did not come from a lack of performance. Despite finishing second in the 400 IM with an incredible 4:36.96, Eastin was disqualified due to a technicality, as she streamlined on her back off her freestyle flip turn. According to FINA each stroke must make up exactly 1/4 of an IM race, and FINA claims that such a streamline during the freestyle leg of the race is a violation of that requirement as any sort of swimming done on one’s back counts as backstroke.

Many swimmers appeared to have developed this same tendency to streamline on their back as Eastin was ultimately the last in a long line of DQs that night. Despite the unfortunate technicality, the swim was an undeniable accomplishment for Eastin who dropped more than four seconds from her entry time of 4:41.19. Her unofficial time would have placed her 11th in the world and bodes well for Eastin’s future in international competition. Eastin will be given a chance at redemption as she represents the United States as a member of the World University Games team this summer in Taipei.

These swims remind us that our sport is ever-changing and results are never predictable. Despite our best preparations, the results may not be what we expected. These experiences teach us to always be aware of and prepared for failure, even when it appears as though we are invincible. And despite the fact that none of these were shining moments for any of these swimmers – far from the joy of making a championship team – they mark high hopes for or next generation of national team swimmers. These swims show that the competition is already fierce on US soil, and cements the United States’ place as one of the premier swim nations in the world.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Georgia Women Take 200 Free in Night 2 of Athens Speedo Sectionals

Photo Courtesy: Cory A. Cole

By Bryan Gu, Swimming World Intern.

The women’s 200 free final was Bulldog territory tonight as 5/8 of tonight’s A final swimmers were current Georgia Bulldogs. Shauna Lee, Class of 2019, dominated the race from start to finish as she won in a quick 2:00.57 dropping almost three seconds from her seed time of 2:03.55. Fellow Bulldog Meryn McCann, a Junior World Medalist in the 800 LCM freestyle relay, took second in 2:03.35, barely out touching 16 year-old Olwyn Bartis’s 2:03.37

On the men’s side Nicholas Hogsed took first in 1:50.61, while Walker Higgins of TNAQ-SE took second in 1:50.91. Age group phenom Aldan Johnston, who holds the 13-14 200 freestyle age group record, out touched Harvard standout Dean Farris to take third in 1:51.46.

Similar to last night’s 200 fly, the 100 back was won by young talent as 14-year old Annabel Crush of LAK-KY dropped a new best time to win the event in 1:02.10. Recent Princeton Commit and Trials qualifier Stephanie Nelson took second, with a time of 1:02.20, while Caroline Baddock of Auburn University took third.

On the men’s side, Farris took this event as redemption for the 200 free, as he picked up his first victory of the night in 56.62. University of Kentucky teammates Joshua Swart and David Dingess rounded out the podium with second and third place finishes respectively.

Ellie Masterson won the women’s 400 IM despite being the 5th seed, dropping more than seven seconds from her entry time to win in 4:52.93. The margin between all those on the podium was fairly large as Morgan Belli came second in 4:54.70 and Danielle Dellatorre came third in 4:57.43.

Northwestern commit and Trials qualifier Jeffrey Durmer won the 400 IM in 4:26.82. Noah Cairns of UNC came second in 4:28.17.

Full results can be found on Meet Mobile – Speedo Long Course Sectionals 2017 (ESSZ) 

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Tour de France: George Bennett drops out of top-ten overall

A day after climbing into ninth overall at the Tour de France and confirming his GC potential, the short and sharp stage 13 into Foix saw George Bennett drop to 11th.

The LottoNL-Jumbo rider explained he simply “wasn’t good enough” as he rolled over the line after the brutal 101.5km of racing in 22nd place, last place in the group led over the line by Movistar’s Carlos Betancur at 4:08 minutes down on stage winner Warren Barguil. The New Zealander conceded time to all his GC rivals and now finds himself over one minute down on tenth placed Alberto Contador.

“It wasn’t my best day on a bike, that is for sure. It was a good bike race, a really good bike race but I was on the losing end,” Bennett told SBS as he warmed down after the stage. I wasn’t good enough. I don’t have any reason or excuse, I just wasn’t good enough.”

A Tour of California winner in May, Bennett came into his second Tour with the primary objective of stage wins but after his seventh place ride into Chambéry, the GC became a realistic ambition. Eight place on stage 12 to Peyragudes lifted Bennett to ninth and having shown he can climb with the best this July, the 27-year-old explained he isn’t throwing it in after a jour sans.

“There are a lot of stages left and I am disappointed now but take a couple of days and hopefully nothing too serious the next days and then I’ll have to go full gas on Galibier or the stage to Izoard,” he said of the third week high Alps stages to come.

Bennett was 53rd overall on his Tour debut last year before going to the Vuelta a Espana and finishing tenth overall. He moved into tenth overall at the conclusion of the penultimate stage to become the first Kiwi to finish top-ten in a Grand Tour. While disappointed with his stage, Bennett is still well placed to better Tino Tabak’s 18th place overall at the 1972 Tour.

“I’ve have had better three weeks but it’s one of those things you enjoy in hindsight. I look back at it last years Tour and it was amazing but at the time I also found it… It’s just a big bloody travelling circus and it’s just crazy,” he said. “You always do enjoy it in hindsight. There are moments like now when you wonder why you do it sometimes but if you win or do well, it is the most amazing feeling. I am going to take stock and get back to just doing good stuff.

Sorry to disappoint today but it’s not over. Take a couple of nights and get some sleep and we’ll see you in a couple of days in the mountains and I’ll work on recovering a bit and hopefully, I’ll be there.

Bennett’s sports director Frans Maassen added the team will continue to back the Kiwi and believes the top-ten remains a realistic objective.

“Something like this can happen. It is a pity it happens, you hope he is able to ride as good as he did the other days,” Maassen said. “Today was a very tough day. From the start to the finish the GC favourites went full-gas.

“Contador and Quintana were much stronger than yesterday, but a top-10 position is not lost already. We have to see how we get back there because I know George is able to finish in the first 10 in Paris. Maybe tomorrow someone else has a bad day. It is still possible.” 

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Ryan Lochte Cleared of Criminal Charges in Brazilian Court

Ryan Lochte had been accused of falsely reporting a crime in Brazil last summer during the Olympics, but those charges have been dropped, according to USA TODAY Sports.

Lochte he claimed on national television that he and three of his U.S. Olympic teammates had been robbed at gunpoint, but it was later revealed that Lochte and co. had instigated a confrontation with security guards who were off-duty police officers.

A three-judge panel in Brazil had ruled that Lochte had falsely reported a crime, but an appeals court reversed the decision by a two-to-one decision. The judges that ruled in Lochte’s favor because an investigation had not been opened at the time he made his statements.

“We are pleased that the court has finally dismissed the criminal prosecution against Mr. Lochte, while at the same time, appropriately recognizing that he committed no crime. It has been a long year, but in the end, justice prevailed,” Jeff Ostrow, Lochte’s attorney, told USA TODAY Sports.

Lochte was suspended 10 months for his role in the scandal, but that suspension expired July 1. He was scheduled to return to competition this weekend at the Los Angeles Invite, but he ended up withdrawing.

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Team Sky enjoy ‘proper racing’ and ‘having fun’ as they look to take yellow jersey off Fabio Aru

Dave Brailsford relishes the challenge facing his team at Tour de France

Team Sky’s principal Dave Brailsford admits the squad has enjoyed not having the yellow jersey at the Tour de France as trying to win it back feels a “little bit more fun”.

Chris Froome lost the Tour’s race lead to Fabio Aru (Astana) on stage 12, and went into Friday’s stage in second place overall, six seconds behind the Italian.

Although Froome relinquished the maillot jaune to Tony Martin for two days in the 2015 Tour, this is the first time the Briton has lost the yellow jersey during the Tour to another general classification contender. So far during his career, Froome has worn the yellow jersey for 50 days.

>>> Fabio Aru fends off Chris Froome’s attacks to retain Tour de France lead as Warren Barguil wins stage

However, stage 13’s short but mountainous 101km parcours from Saint Girons to Foix proved ideal for aggressive racing with Froome’s Sky squad the key instigators on the day.

Mikel Landa was sent up the road in an early breakaway and was eventually joined by Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar). He finished 1-46 ahead of Froome and the other GC rivals to move up to fifth overall and give Sky a clear two-rider attack for the final week.

“If you gave us the yellow jersey back I think we’d figure it out, but at the minute it feels like a bit more fun to win it back,” Brailsford told reporters after the stage.

>>> Chris Froome: ‘Mikel Landa ‘a real threat for the overall’ after stage 13 attack at Tour de France

“It’s more enjoyable. We’ve been at this race for so long where all we do is defend, defend, defend, defend. The reason people love cycling and love Grand Tours is because of the suspense of it all and it’s the ‘what’s going to happen’ and the tactical options.

“I think it’s nice to be in the situation where we’re playing out and doing what attracted us all to the sport in the first place.

“It’s nice to race, and I think everybody at heart who loves this sport has got to be a racer and every now and again you’ve got to race. It feels like this is proper racing and it’s fun, it’s exciting. I’m really enjoying it.”

Watch: Tour de France stage 13 highlights

Just 1-09 now separate the top five riders overall – Aru, Froome, Romain Bardet, Rigoberto Uran and Landa – with the final two major mountain stages coming next week in the Alps.

Sky’s directeur sportif Servais Knaven believes the aggressive racing seen in the Pyrenees will continue into the final week, with such small time gaps separating everyone.

>>> ‘Chris Froome’s still the Team Sky boss’: Mikel Landa to continue in domestique role at Tour de France

“I think everyone will be really aggressive next week because it’s all so close together. If you take the top five, maybe top six, probably all of them think they can win the Tour,” he said.

“It depends how many guts they have, maybe there are also some guys who want to play for sure to be on the podium – so you don’t know. And now with Chris having his off day yesterday [stage 12] maybe more guys think they can win the Tour.

“It’s going to be really interesting next week.”

>>> Five talking points from stage 13 of the Tour de France

Knaven also said Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who escaped in the breakaway with Landa and gained time at the finish, should still be considered a contender for the victory having now moved up to eighth overall.

“He’s always a danger rider, and he’s always good in the final week. He’s for sure one rider to watch for.”

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FINA World Championships: Women’s 800 Free Relay

Photo Courtesy: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

The American women lose half of their Olympic gold medal-winning 800 free relay from last summer, yet they still remain the team to beat in the 800 free relay at the FINA World Championships. Having Katie Ledecky on their team is a big reason why.

The team best-equipped to make a run appears to be China, which has three swimmers (Ai YanhanLi Bingjie and Shen Duo) who have swum times in the 1:56.7-range in the 200 free this year and a fourth (Liu Zixuan) at 1:57.0.

That depth is great, but even without Maya DiRadoAllison Schmitt and Missy Franklin, Americans Leah SmithMelanie Margalis and Mallory Comerford all went under 1:57 at U.S. Nationals, and Simone Manuel is right behind.

And then there’s Ledecky, who won Olympic gold last year in the 200 free in 1:53.73.

Read below to see what Swimming World’s trio of experts think will happen in Budapest. David RiederJohn Lohn and Andy Ross will each offer their predictions for who will finish on the podium.

Women’s 800 Free Relay

Current Records:

World Record: China — Yang, Zhu, Liu, Pang (2009) — 7:42.08
Championship Record: China — Yang, Zhu, Liu, Pang (2009) — 7:42.08
American Record: Vollmer, Nymeyer, Kukors, Schmitt (2009) — 7:42.56

2015 World Champion: United States — Franklin, Smith, McLaughlin, Ledecky — 7:45.37
2016 Olympic Gold Medalist: United States — Schmitt, Smith, DiRado, Ledecky — 7:43.03

Swimming World Predictions

David Rieder’s Picks:

Gold: United States
Silver: China
Bronze: Australia

John Lohn’s Picks:

Gold: United States
Silver: China
Bronze: Canada

Andy Ross’ Picks:

Gold: United States
Silver: China
Bronze: Canada

Previous Events

Day One:

Day Two:

Day Three:

Day Four:

Day Five:

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