Jakob Fuglsang narrowly beats Richie Porte and Chris Froome to win Critérium du Dauphiné stage six

Danish rider edges out Richie Porte and Chris Froome in a tight sprint for the line

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) won by a hair’s width in a reduced sprint ahead of Richie Porte (BMC) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) after a masterclass in climbing and descending on stage six of the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Despite missing out on the stage win Porte secured the yellow jersey for the first time in the race.

The Danish rider was part of a quartet of Porte, Froome and Fabio Aru (Astana) but Fuglsang showed the lethal edge as he out-sprinted Froome and Porte in the final stretch.

Astana will be happy with a win to commemorate Michele Scarponi but they will also be happy with both Fuglsang and Aru moving into the top five overall.

Porte continued his good form as he held a 39 second lead over former team-mate Froome and secured the yellow jersey going into the last two stages of the race.

In the race’s first battle in the mountains, the four had battled their way up the Le Mont du Chat with Richie Porte and Chris Froome working solidly to reel in Fabio Aru after he launched a solo attack.

The Italian had built up a 14 second gap over the crest of the hellish climb and its 7.6 per cent average gradient but it wasn’t enough to stay away.

However it was their descending expertise that broke them from the bigger general classification group. Froome’s desire was clear to see as he undertook Porte, giving himself the edge over the Australian on the downhill.

For most of the day a breakaway of six riders plied their trade up the road.

Made up of Oliver Naesen (AG2R-La Mondiale), Anthony Turgis (Cofidis), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) and Thierry Hupond (Delko Marseille Provence KTM), the original breakaway had built up a lead of 5-09 as they headed towards the final climb, Le Mont du Chat.

However, being 2-20 down it was key for GC contender Romain Bardet and his team to reel the breakaway in to bridge the overall time gap that had come between him and race leader Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal).

Driving the peloton’s pace before the climb, AG2R pushed the pace up.

However, it was Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who tried to take the race by the scruff of the neck and jumped the gap up to the breakaway with a fantastic solo effort. The Spaniard was soon joined by Astana’s Fabio Aru who seemed resurgent after his long wait on the sidelines.

It wasn’t long after until Bardet joined Aru and Valverde up the road but a non-stop aggression from Aru reduced it to just Aru and Bardet as the Frenchman hung on.

It wasn’t long before the Italian took the initiative though, surging right to the front of the race as the riders peaked Le Mont du Chat.

With Chris Froome and Richie Porte both eyeing up the yellow jersey, they decided to up the ante and go after Aru. Thanks to a steady pace, the pair kept in contact with Aru.

Astana teammate, Fuglsang, was up the road though and joined up with Aru to get the GC contender to the top of the mountain first.

It wasn’t long before Aru was descending on his own towards what would be a huge win in his hunt for his first victory since his injury.

Froome and Porte had other ideas as they bridged the gap and were soon in hunt of the Italian, descending well. Controversy reared its head as Froome’s ruthless descending came into play seeing the Brit undertake Porte.

Shortly after the four riders found themselves working together on the final flat 2km, conscious of Valverde who had work his way to within 54 seconds of them.

Froome then launched his sprint first taking the others by surprise but after blowing up and nearly forcing Porte into the barriers, it was Danish rider, Fuglsang who pipped the two to the post with the smallest of margins.

Results

Critérium du Dauphiné 2017, stage six: Parc des Oiseaux – Villars les Dombres to La Motte-Servolex (145.5km)

1. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, at 3-41-48
Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 
Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team, at st
Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team, at 0-50
Daniel Martin (Ire) Quick-Step Floors 
Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at st
Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale, at 1-06
Alberto Contador (Esp) Trek – Segafredo, at st
10 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora – Hansgrohe, at 1-14

Overall classification after stage six

1 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team, at 20-52-34
Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, at 0-39
Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, at 1-15
Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team, at 1-20
Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team, at 1-24
Alberto Contador (Esp) Trek – Segafredo, at 1-47
Daniel Martin (Ire) Quick-Step Floors, at 2-14
Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora – Hansgrohe, at 2-30
9 Romain Bardet (Fre) AG2R La Mondiale, at 2-49
10 Rafael Valls (Esp) Lotto Soudal, at 3-16


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IOC Adds Distance Events, Mixed Medley Relay for Tokyo 2020

Photo Courtesy: The Japan Times

The International Olympic Committee has added three new races to the Olympic program for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, according to a report from Inside the Games. A press release from Olympic.org confirmed that report.

A mixed 400 medley relay (two men plus two women) will be added along with the women’s 1500 free and men’s 800 free. That will be bring the total number of pool swimming events up to 35, up from the 32 that had been contested in the previous six Olympiads.

As of right now, it appears that 50-meter stroke events and a mixed 400 free relay will not be added to the program. FINA had proposed that the additions of all of these events for the Tokyo Games.

More to come when more information is available.

Read more from Inside the Games here. The full Olympic.com press release can be found here.

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French Open 2017: Is Rafael Nadal back to his very best?

Rafael Nadal

French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 28 May- 11 June
Coverage: Listen to live radio commentary and follow text coverage of selected matches on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online.

Rafael Nadal has rediscovered his game and his aura, and now he looks ready to take his title back.

The Spaniard, who plays Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals on Friday, is just two wins from a record 10th French Open – ‘La Decima’ – and his first since 2014.

“It’s starting to be the way it was,” Carlos Moya, who joined Nadal’s coaching team in December, told BBC Sport.

“That was one of the things that we wanted back, that the opponent feels he’s playing Nadal again and if they want to beat him, they’re going to have to work really hard.”

They might have to work hard but thus far Nadal’s opponents haven’t had to spend much time on court.

The Spaniard, 31, has been getting them out of there in close to 90 minutes per match, reaching the semi-finals for the loss of just 22 games in five matches – the fewest games lost to this stage of a Grand Slam since best-of-five matches were introduced.

Twelve months ago, Nadal was forced out of the tournament through injury, and two years ago he was brushed aside by Novak Djokovic. In 2017, he has looked unstoppable.

Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his first French Open in 2005

Forehand fires Nadal back to the top

There is no question Nadal has rediscovered his mojo on the clay, but opinion is divided over whether he is back to his very best.

His new coach believes he’s not far away.

“I think he’s really close to 100%,” said Moya. “He’s played some matches this year when his level was really good.

“It’s hard to compare with the old Rafa, but I think if he’s not at the same level, he’s close to that.”

Nadal might be the king of clay but his game looks increasingly like hard-court tennis on the red dirt.

Successful in a stunning 76% of points behind second serves, and 69% of first serves, Nadal is then winning 62% of his points in under four shots, as opposed to just 15% in rallies of more than nine strokes.

And it is his most famous shot that once again dominates Roland Garros.

“The wheelhouse of the Nadal renaissance has been his forehand,” says Craig O’Shannessy, strategy expert for Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the ATP World Tour.