HIGHLIGHTS: Pogacar sails to second straight Tour de France win; U.S. women Olympians crush Nigeria, U.S. men edge Spain in exhibitions

A happy Tadej Pogacar (yellow jersey) on his way to a second Tour de France title (Photo: ASO/Charly Lopez)

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Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world/updated/:

Athletics ● /Updated/ Some notable names popped up at the American Track League stop at Trabuco Hills High School in California in 90+ degree temps on Sunday, with some hot running in the sprints.

American Candace Hill collected a wind-aided double, winning the women’s 100 m in 10.99 (+2.5 m/s) and the 200 m in 22.30 (+2.2). A big Jamaican squad was led by star  sprinter Yohan Blake, who barely beat countryman Rasheed Dwyer to the line as both were timed in 20.22 (+1.8), with Jevaughn Minzie third in 20.29. Minzie won the 100 m earlier in a windy 10.09 (+2.3) with Chris Royster (USA) also in the same time.

Jamaica’s Megan Tapper won the women’s 100 m hurdles in 12.48w (+3.6) ahead of Evonne Britton of the U.S. (12.72). In the women’s 400 m, Tovea Jenkins (JAM) won over Jaide Stepter (USA), 51.63-51.87 and Jamaican Ronda Whyte took the women’s 400 m hurdles in 55.57.

American Khallifah Rosser won the men’s 400 over Jamaican Nathon Allen, 45.74-45.89.

Brannon Kidder of the U.S. won the men’s 800 m in 1:45.26 with Craig Engels third in 1:47.15, then Engels helped pace the “Moustache Mile,” won by steepler Isaac Updike in a lifetime best of 3:58.26. American Sinclaire Johnson won the women’s 800 in 2:00.63.

The only field event as a “mixed” shot put, but the men’s and women’s individual winners were Darrell Hill (USA) at 21.35 m (70-0 1/2) and Chase Ealey of the U.S. with a seasonal best of 19.45 m (63-9 3/4).

In the evening distance races, titled the “Sound Running Sunset Tour,” Americans Taryn Rawlings and Raevyn Rogers went 1-2 in the women’s mile with lifetime bests of 4:28.93 and 4:29.26. American Josette Norris got a lifetime best of 3:59.72 in the women’s 1,500 m – the ninth American woman under four minutes – beating Jessica Hull (4:00.73) and Nikki Hiltz (4:02.94). Colby Alexander for a lifetime best in the men’s 1,500 m with an impressive 3:33.65, ahead of Luis Grijalva (GUA: 3:35.32, national record) and Johnny Gregorek (3:36.37).

Basketball ● The U.S. women’s squad has been one of the most dominant on the planet, winning the last six Olympic tournaments and winners of 49 straight games in Olympic play.

But following its 93-85 loss to the WNBA All-Stars, the U.S. lost again on Friday (16 July) to Australia, 70-67, playing without star center Liz Cambage, who withdrew from the team for mental health reasons.

The American women had the game in hand at halftime, leading 41-28. But the U.S. went stone cold in the second half, and was outscored 23-15 in the third quarter – narrowing the gap to 56-51 – and then 19-11 in the fourth.

The U.S. shot 2-18 from the three-point line and 37.3% overall, but held a 41-28 rebounding edge in the game. Breanna Stewart scored 17 to lead the U.S., followed by A’ja Wilson with 12; Diana Taurasi sat out for the second consecutive game with a hip strain. Ezi Magbegor led Australia with 17 and the Opals forced the U.S. into 15 second-half turnovers.

/Update/ The U.S. women finished up with a win on Sunday vs. Nigeria, leading 20-4 after the first 6:23, then 29-15 at the quarter, 55-34 at half and 73-51 after three quarters. The final was 93-62, and the U.S. had five scorers in double figures: Wilson with 16, Stewart with 14, Brittney Griner with 12 and Jewell Loyd and Sylvia Fowles with 10 each. While the Americans shot 53.8% from the field, Nigeria was held to just 32.8% and had no one reach 10 points.

These teams will play each other in Tokyo in the group stage; Nigeria could be augmented by Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike, who have petitioned the Court of Arbitration for Sport a refusal by FIBA to allow them to change playing allegiance from the U.S.

The U.S. men’s Olympic Team named replacements for Covid-hit Bradley Beal and the injured Kevin Love, with guard Keldon Johnson of the San Antonio Spurs and center JaVale McGee (Denver). Still to join the team are NBA Finals participants Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday of Milwaukee and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns.

/Update/ On Sunday, the U.S. men finished their exhibition schedule with an encouraging 83-76 win over Spain in Las Vegas, taking control of the game in the third quarter. Spain led by 38-36 at the half, but the U.S. out-scored Spain by 21-12 to create a 57-50 edge at the end of the third and held tight in a 26-26 fourth quarter for the win.

Both teams shot poorly, with the U.S. making 43.1% of its field goals and the Spanish, only 38.2%, but badly out-rebounding the Americans by 42-22. Damian Lillard led the U.S. with 19 points, followed by Keldon Johnson – in his first game with the team – with 15, then Kevin Durant with 14 and Zach LaVine with 13. Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio led all scorers with 23, with Willy Hernangomez adding 11 and center Marc Gasol with 10.

Not much attention has been paid to the other exhibition games in Las Vegas, but they offered an important preview of the Olympic tournament:

10 July: Australia 87, Argentina 84
12 July: Nigeria 94, Argentina 71
13 July: Australia 108, Nigeria 69

Australia beat the U.S. in a 2019 exhibition match prior to the FIBA World Cup and is clearly a prime contender for Tokyo. Nigeria’s win over the U.S. and its throttling of Argentina mark it as a team – with seven NBA players and coached by NBA veteran Mike Brown – to be watched carefully at the Games.

Beach Volleyball ● While the top teams are in Tokyo, the FIVB World Tour goes on and the U.S. swept both the men’s and women’s titles at the two-star tournament in Rubavu in Rwanda, with wins for Theo Brunner and Chaim Schalk and Emily Day and Sara Hughes.

In the men’s final, Brunner (36) and Schalk (35) defeated fellow Americans Chase Budinger and Troy Field in straight sets: 25-23, 21-15. It was the first World Tour win ever for the duo of Brunner and Schalk. For Brunner, it took 64 World Tour events to score his first gold, and 77 for Schalk, who played for Canada for most of his career; this was just his ninth tournament playing for the U.S.

Russians Maksim Hudyakov and Aleksandr Kramarenko won the bronze medal over countrymen Anton Kislytsyn and Daniil Kuvichka by 21-11, 21-15.

Day (33) and Hughes (26) won their first World Tour title as a pair, overcoming Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Sarah Schulz in three sets: 19-21, 21-13, 16-14. It was Day’s first World Tour win ever, in his 93rd tournament; for Hughes, it was win no. 3.

Germans Sarah Schneider and Svenja Muller won the bronze over Valentyna Davidova and Diana Lunina (UKR) by 21-19, 21-19 to take the bronze medal.

Cycling ● Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar – still just 22 – won his second straight Tour de France on Sunday, pedaling to Paris with a huge lead and joining a select fraternity of 21 men who have won this race more than once.

Pogacar essentially clinched the race on Thursday with his win on the final mountain stage, but there were still three days left. On Friday, countryman Matej Mohoric won his second stage of the race, with a 25 km breakaway on the 207 km route from Mourenx to Libourne, finishing 58 seconds up on Christophe Laporte (FRA) and Casper Pedersen (DEN).

Saturday’s 30.8 km individual time trial was a showcase for Belgian Wout van Aert, who won his second stage of the 2021 Tour, posting a 35:53 time. That was 21 seconds better than Kasper Asgreen (DEN) and 32 seconds faster than Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) and 57 seconds up on Pogacar.

That reduced Pogacar’s margin to a still-impressive 5:20 over Vingegaard and 7:03 on Richard Carapaz (ECU) going into Sunday’s 108.4 km sprint into Paris, and it finished there, the biggest time win in this race since 2014, when Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) won by 7:37. Australia’s Ben O’Connor was fourth (+10:02) and Wilco Kelderman (NED) was fifth (+10:13).

Sunday’s race was all about whether Britain’s Mark Cavendish – at 36 – could break his tie with Belgian great Eddy Merckx for the most stage wins in the history of the race (34). Everyone knew the storyline, but no one was conceding Cavendish anything.

And it came down to the final meters of the race, with Cavendish in position to strike, but he was not as fast to the line as van Aert, 26, who won his second straight stage – and third of the Tour (and sixth of his career) – just ahead of countryman Jasper Philipsen, with Cavendish a disappointed third, banging his handlebars in anger. For Philipsen, it was his sixth stage finishing second or third, but with no wins; at 23, he will have more chances.

Pogacar and Cavendish made the headlines for this year’s Tour, surpassing the horrific crash-filled first week and especially the opening stage mess in which a spectator pointed a homemade sign toward the television cameras and caused a huge pile-up that affected the race dramatically. Fan behavior was an issue during the Tour and more attention will have to paid to this in the future.

There was also chatter about possible technical fraud when some riders heard “strange noises” from the rear hubs of some bikes, and the Bahrain Victorious team had its hotel and bus searched and some training files taken by French police on Wednesday (14th). It was later confirmed by authorities in Marseille that an investigation had been initiated on 3 July concerning “acquisition, transportation, possession and importing of a prohibited substance or method for use by an athlete without justification by members of Team Bahrain Victorious, currently in action at the 2021 Tour de France.” Team members Mohoric and Dylan Teuns (BEL) won stages in the race.

The USA Cycling Track National Championships were on this weekend for riders from 11 and up at the outdoor velodrome in Breiningsville, Pennsylvania, with some familiar names back on top of the podium.

John Croom, who won the 2019 Time Trial, ended up with three golds on the weekend, taking the Individual Pursuit, the Elimination Race and the Omnium, plus a bronze in the Scratch Race. The Points Race is still to come on Monday.

James Alvord took the men’s Sprint title over Evan Boone, but then saw Boone win the Keirin, with Tommy Quinn second. Alvord came back for a second win in the 1,000 m Time Trial over Ryan Jastrab. Kyle Perry won the Scratch Race.

Veteran star Mandy Marquardt, who did not make the Olympic Team, repeated her triple victory from the 2019 Championships, taking the Sprint, Keirin and 500 m Time Trial. Colleen Gulick logged two wins, in the Elimination Race and the Omnium, while Elspeth Huyett won the Scratch Race. As with the men, the Points Race will be on Monday.

Football ● /Updated/The CONCACAF Gold Cup continues in the group stage, with Groups A and B finishing today (18th) and Groups C and D completing play on Tuesday (20th).

In Group A, Mexico (2-0-1) got a 26th-minute goal from Luis Rodriguez and made it stand up for a 1-0 win in Dallas over a dogged El Salvador (2-1) squad that competed strongly in a game with 41 total fouls. Mexico ended with 54% of the possession and had a 16-11 edge on shots. That gave Mexico the group title and both teams will move on to the playoffs. In Frisco, Guatemala (0-2-1: 4th) and Trinidad & Tobago (0-1-2: 3rd) finished with a 1-1 draw.

In Group B, the U.S. jumped on Canada right away in Kansas City, with Shaquell Moore scoring what is believed to be the fastest goal in team history in 20 seconds off a brilliant cross from the left of goal by Sebastian Lleget. It was 1-0 at half, but Canada was on the offensive throughout the second half and the U.S. had Daryl Dike and James Sands leave the field due to injury – with the U.S. playing with 10 men – for short stretches in the final 10 minutes. But the Americans (3-0) held on for the 1-0 victory despite only 46% of the possession and getting six shots to 14 for Canada (2-1).

Haiti (1-2) defeated Martinique (0-3), 2-1, in Frisco in their final game.

In Group C, Costa Rica and Jamaica are both 2-0 and will advance to the playoffs; they play each other for the top seed in the group. In Group D, Qatar (1-0-1) sailed past Grenada (0-2), 4-0, and Honduras (2-0) scored two second-half goals to edge Panama (0-1-1), 3-2. Honduras will advance and Qatar likely will, with a +5 goal differential over Panama (but the Panamanians play Grenada, while Qatar faces Honduras).

Playoffs will begin on 24 July with the quarterfinals, followed by semis on 29 July and the final on 1 August.

Golf ● /Updated/American Collin Morikawa came from one shot down entering the final round of the 149th British Open at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England to win by two shots over Jordan Spieth (USA) and four over Spain’s Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen (RSA).

Morikawa shot a four-under 66 on the final round to end at -15, as Spieth and Rahm also shot 66s. Oosthuizen had the lead after each of the first three rounds, but had to settle for a third consecutive top-three finish at a major after seconds at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open.

At 24, Morikawa has now won two majors – also the 2020 PGA Championship – and will be playing in Tokyo at the Olympic Games. Born in Southern California and with a Japanese surname, an Olympic showdown between he and Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) could be one of the highlights of the Games in golf-mad Japan.

Sport Climbing ● The IFSC schedule was busy this week with World Cup events in Chamonix (FRA) on 12-13 July and Briancon (FRA) on 17-18 July, both for Lead only.

In Chamonix the competition was for Lead only, with American Sean Bailey scoring his second straight World Cup win and third of the season, scoring 34+ holds in the final to 32 for Stefano Ghisolfi (ITA) and 32 for Martin Stranik (CZE). Italy scored in the women’s division with Laura Rogora winning over American Natalia Grossman, Top to 41+, with Aleksandra Totkova (BUL) third at 38+.

In Briancon, Bailey had the top score in the semis, but Russian Dmitrii Fakirianov took the final (39+) over Stranik (37+) and Swiss Sascha Lehmann (35); Bailey ended up sixth (27).

Grossman was one of five who got to the top of the wall, but had the best qualifying score and was the winner, her third win of the season and first in Lead! Slovenia’s Lucka Rakovec was second, with Eliska Adamovska (CZE) third.

Volleyball ● /Updated/At the FIVB women’s U-20 World Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands, Italy swept to an impressive victory, winning all eight of its matches and 24 of its 26 sets!

The Netherlands, Serbia, Italy and the U.S. all won their groups with 3-0 records. In the second-round round-robin, the Netherlands (3-0) and Russia (2-1) advanced to the semifinals in the first group, while the U.S. (1-2) and Brazil (0-3) moved to the 5-8 playoffs. Italy (3-0) and Serbia (2-1) were the best of the second group, beating up on Poland (1-2) and the Dominican Republic (0-3).

In the championship semis, Italy swept Russia, 3-0, and Serbia skipped past the Netherlands, 3-1, to meet again in the final in Rotterdam. Once again, the Italians swept, winning 25-18, 25-20 and 25-23. Russia defeated the Dutch, 3-2, to win the bronze.

It was the first win for Italy in its third final in this tournament and fourth medal overall in the 20 editions of this championship.

In the fifth-place playoff, the U.S. swept the Dominican Republic, 3-0, and Poland did the same to Brazil. The American women managed a tight win for fifth, coming back from 0-2 against the Poles for a 14-25, 18-25, 25-16, 29-27, 15-13 victory.

Italian setter Gaia Guiducci was named Most Valuable Player and Best Setter. The all-tournament team also included Best Outside Hitters Loveth Omoruyi (ITA) and Jolien Knollema (NED); Vita Akimova (RUS) as Best Opposite; Emma Graziani (ITA) and Hena Kurtagic (SRB) as Best Middle Blockers and Martina Armini (ITA) as Best Libero.

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