HIGHLIGHTS: Pogacar takes over the Tour de France, Mahuchikh takes world HJ lead and Bol threatens McLaughlin in Diamond League Stockholm

Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar on his way into Paris to win the 2020 Tour de France (Photo: Chabe1 via Wikipedia)

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Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

Athletics ● The Wanda Diamond League continued in Scandinavia, this time at the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm for the annual Bauhaus Galan, with a world-leading performance by Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh in the women’s high jump.

The all-conditions world leader in 2021 with her indoor clearance of 2.06 m (6-9), Mahuchikh cleared four straight heights with one try, then took two to master 2.01 m (6-7) and three to get over 2.03 m and take the world lead from American Vashti Cunningham (2.02 m/6-7 1/2). She needed it to fend off Australian Nicola McDermott, who also cleared 2.01 m for a lifetime best and a national record! Mahuchikh, Cunningham and McDermott now stand 1-2-3 on the 2021 world list.

Other major statements were made:

Women’s 400 m hurdles: Dutch star Femke Bol set her third national record in a month, winning in 52.37 over American star Shamier Little (lifetime best 52.39) and moving to no. 2 on the 2021 world list. Bol is also no. 4 all-time (Little is no. 5) and is a clear threat to American stars Sydney McLaughlin (51.90 world record) and Dalilah Muhammad (52.42 in 2021).

Women’s 800 m: Cuba’s Rose Almanza out-dueled Jamaican star Natoya Goule in 1:56.28-1:56.44, close behind the world-leading 1:56.07 by American Athing Mu at the U.S. Trials. It was a lifetime best for Almanza, 28, and Goule is now no. 3. American Kate Grace, coming off a lifetime best in Oslo, got another at 1:57.36, but had to settle for third.

Women’s Steeplechase: Kenyan Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi, the 2015 World Champion, showed she is going to be in the mix in Tokyo, winning in 9:04.34 to move to fourth on the world list for 2021. She won by almost five seconds over German Gesa Krause (9:09.13), with world-record holder Beatrice Chepkoech third (9:10.52). American Leah Falland, who fell at the Trials, got a lifetime best of 9:16.96.

Men’s 400 m hurdles: Sure, Karsten Warholm (NOR) and Rai Benjamin of the U.S, get the headlines, but Brazil’s Alison dos Santos is now clearly no. 3, claiming a fourth national record in his last four races, winning in 47.34, making him no. 14 all-time. Rio Olympic bronze medalist Yasmani Copello (TUR) was well back in second at 48.19, a season’s best.

Men’s 800 m: Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich underlined his status as a medal contender for Tokyo, winning in 1:43.84 and moving to equal-5th on the 2021 world list. He beat a good field that included Canada’s Marco Arop (1:44.00) and Britain’s Elliot Giles (1:44.05), with Isaiah Harris of the U.S. fifth (1:44.51).

Men’s Long Jump: Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle won at 8.55 mw (28-0 3/4w) with just a 2.3 m/s aiding wind, beating Cuban star Juan Miguel Echavarria (8.29 m (27-2 1/2) and Swede Thobias Montler, who got a lifetime best of 8.23 m (27-0). Gayle also had a legal jump of 8.27 m (27-1 3/4), showing he has to be accounted for in Tokyo.

In other events, American Ronnie Baker – second at the Trials – won the men’s 100 m in 10.03, ahead of Italy’s Marcell Jacobs (10.05), with American Isiah Young fourth (10.13). Kirani James (GRN), the 2012 Olympic Champion, won the 400 m in 44.63 ahead of Deon Lendore (TTO: 44.73) with Americans Vernon Norwood and Wil London fourth and fifth (44.83-44.86).

Kenyan star Timothy Cherioyot, inexplicably fourth at the Kenyan Trials, won the men’s 1,500 m in 3:32.30, beating Ignacio Fontes (ESP: 3:33.27) and Ronald Kwemoi (KEN: 3:33.53).

It’s not right to say that a 6.02 m (19-9) win for Mondo Duplantis (SWE) is routine, but he makes it look that way. He beat American Sam Kendricks, who got a season’s best of 5.92 m 919-5) in second, with French star Renaud Lavillenie equaling his season’s best (5.92 m) in third.

In the men’s discus, Sweden’s Daniel Stahl won again, this time at 68.64 m (225-2), ahead of Slovenian Kristjian Ceh (66.62 m (218-7).

Jamaica’s new sprint star, former quartermiler Shericka Jackson, won the women’s 200 m in 22.10, ahead of Marie-Josee Ta Lou (CIV: 22.36) and a lifetime best from Beatrice Masilingi (NAM: 22.65). Remember, Masilingi is allowed to run the 200 m, but not the 400 m, for having extra-high testosterone levels as regulated by World Athletics.

The women’s long jump saw a 7.02 mw (23-0 1/2w) jump by Malaika Mihambo (GER), but Ivana Spanovic (SRB) won on the sixth-round shoot-out with her best of the day at 6.88 m (22-7). New Zealand’s Valerie Adams, the 2008-12 Olympic champ, won the shot at 19.26 m (63-2 1/4).

Basketball ● Four different FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments were on this weekend to fill the field in the men’s tournament in Tokyo.

In Kaunas (LTU), Slovenia punched its ticket for the Games by defeating the host team, 96-85 thanks to 31 points (plus 11 rebounds and 13 assists) from NBA superstar Luka Doncic and 18 from forward Vlatko Cancar.

In Split (CRO), Brazil had a 17-14 first-quarter lead over Germany, but 28 points from Orlando Magic center Moritz Wagner was too much and the Germans pulled away with a 75-64 victory. Coming off the bench, Wagner hit 9-12 from the field and 7-11 on free throws in just 28 minutes to key the German surge. Forward Robin Benzing added 13 points and center Johannes Voightmann had 11 rebounds for the winners. Former NBA star Anderson Varejao led Brazil with 14 points.

/Updated/In Belgrade (SRB), host Serbia pounded Puerto Rico, 102-84 and Italy beat the Dominican Republic, 79-59, to reach the final. The Italians used 58% shooting in the first half to craft a 57-45 halftime lead, and extended it to 80-63 after three quarters. But the Serbs made a game of it with a 32-22 final quarter for a 102-95 final. Forwards Achille Polonara had 22 and Simone Fontecchio had 21 points for the winners. Serb forward Danilo Andjusic had 27 to lead all scorers.

/Updated/In Victoria (CAN), the Czech Republic crushed Greece, which had the third of the four Antetokounmpo brothers – Kostas – but was overrun in the first quarter by 32-22 and the third quarter, by 31-11 and lost, 97-72. The Czechs had five players scoring in double figures, led by center Patrick Auda (20), along with center Jan Vesely (16), forward Jaromir Bohacik (15), center Ondrej Balvin (14) and guard Tomas Satoransky (12). The Czechs shot 52.7% from the floor to just 45% for Greece.

Cycling Tour de France defending champ Tadej Pogacar (SLO) is not going to be easy to take down in his effort for back-to-back titles, as he showed during the bruising, eight-climb, 150.8 km Stage 8, the first day in the Alps for the 2021 race.

Standing fifth and 3:43 behind leader Mathieu van der Poel (NED) entering Saturday’s first day in the Alps, Pogacar dropped his main rivals one-by-one over the two final climbs, up the Col de Romme and Col de Colombiere. Canada’s Michael Woods had control of the race in the final 18 km on the Col de Colombiere, with Dylan Teuns (BEL) joining him with 17 km to go, with Spain’s Ion Izagirre not far behind. Pogacar was gaining on them and had shredded the contenders behind him.

At the finish, it was Teuns with the win in 3:54:41, followed by Izagirre, Woods and Pogacar, 44-47-49 seconds behind. But van der Poel finished 21:47 behind the winner, Kasper Asgreen (DEN) was 27:56 back, Matej Mohoric (SLO) was 28:41 back. French hero Julian Alaphilippe did better, finishing “just” 18:55 behind the leaders. That left Pogacar up by 1:48 over Wout van Aert (BEL) and 4:38 ahead of Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ).

On Sunday, the course was cold and rainy, with a miserable, five-climb, 144.9 km route up to the ski resort of Tignes. A mass breakaway was organized just 30 km into the stage, but after 65 km, four riders – Nairo Quintana (COL), Ben O’Connor (AUS), Woods and Wout Poels (NED) – far ahead of everyone else.

One by one the lead group narrowed until O’Connor dropped Quintana with about 20 km left and ascended to the finish by himself, winning in 4:26:43 in his first Tour de France. Italy’s Mattia Cattaneo was second (+5:07) and countryman Sonny Colbrelli (+5:34) was third. O’Connor was so far ahead on the final climb that it looked like he might take the yellow jersey from Pogacar, but the Slovenian mounted a charge in the final 3.5 km to move up to sixth and retain a 2:01 margin over O’Connor, now in second place. The next closest is Rigoberto Uran (COL) at 5:18 back, heading into Monday’s rest day.

Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic, one of the pre-race favorites but who was badly injured in earlier crashes, withdrew before the start of today’s stage.

The biggest race of the year of the UCI Women’s World Tour, the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile – the “Giro Donne” – is underway in Italy, with a Team Time Trial on Friday and the first individual stage on Saturday, a 100.1 km flat ride with a massive uphill finish to Prato Nevoso.

Dutch star – and three-time champion – Anna van der Breggen took control of the race with a brilliant 5 km ride to the crest of the Colle del Prel that saw her win by 1:22 over Ashleigh Moolman (RSA).

Demi Vollering (NED) won a duel with Italy’s Marta Cavalli for third, finishing 1:51 and 1:53 behind van der Breggen. The win gave van der Breggen a 1:26 lead over Moolman, 1:57 over Vollering and 3:31 ahead of Britain’s Lizzie Deignan.

Sunday’s hilly, 135 km race into Ovada was another Dutch win, this time for Marianne Vos, a three-time winner of this event, who out-lasted countrywoman Lucinda Brand and German Liane Lippert at the finish. Van der Breggen was in a huge chase group that finished 3:18 back and maintained a lead of 1:21 over Moolman and 1:57 over Vollering.

Monday will be a 11.2 km individual time trial on a rising course; the 10-stage race finishes on 11 July.

The fourth stage of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup was at the familiar course at Les Gets (FRA), with stars Mathias Flueckiger (SUI) and Loana Lecomte (FRA) maintaining their places at the top of the podium.

Flueckiger won his second straight men’s Cross Country title by a 25-second margin over Ondrej Cink (CZE) and 35 seconds over Jordan Sarrou (FRA), building most of his margin on the first two laps and then cruising home. Flueckiger is the only men’s rider to medal in all four races this season. Flueckiger also won the Short Track race on Saturday, barely beating Sarrou, 19:34 to 19:35, with Cink (CZE) third in 19:37.

The women’s race was a fourth straight win for French star Lecomte, who also ran away from the start, forging a 12-second lead after the first lap! She won in 1:27:23, 51 seconds ahead of 2016 Olympic gold medalist Jenny Rissveds (SWE) and 1:10 up on Britain’s Evie Richards. Two-time defending World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot was fourth.

However, Ferrand-Prevot did take the women’s Short Track race decisively, timing 20:28 to 20:32 to Sina Frei (SUI) and 20:41 for Rissveds.

/Updated/In the Downhills, France’s Thibaut Daprela won from Germany’s Max Hartenstein in the men’s race by 3:33.424-3:35.840, while Britain’s 2018 Worlds silver winner Tahnee Seagrave just barely fought off France’s 2019 World Champion, Myriam Nicole, 4:10.556-4:10.818.

The Pan American Track Cycling Championships concluded in Lima (PER) during the week, with Colombia dominating the action for both men and women.

Sprinter Kevin Quintero ended up winning the Individual Sprint, Keirin, the 1,000 m Time Trial and anchoring the Team Sprint. Bryan Gomez won the Points Race and Brayan Sanchez won the Individual Pursuit (with Gomez second). Mexico’s Ricardo Pena took the Omnium, but in all, Colombians won eight of the 10 events.

The women’s events saw Juliana Gaviria win the Sprint, Martha Bayona win the 500 m Time Trial and Lina Hernandez take the Individual Pursuit and the Omnium. Mexico scored wins in the Keirin (Yuli Verdugo), Points Race (Yareli Acevedo) and in the Madison. The gold medal count was six for Colombia, three for Mexico and one for Barbados.

DivingFINA Diving Grand Prix in Bolzano (ITA) was the first in-person event in the series in 2021, with limited entries, but good results for the hosts.

Italy claimed wins in three synchronized events: the men’s Synchro 3 m with Giovanni Tocci and Lorenzo Marsaglia, the Synchro 10 m, with Andreas Larsen and Eduard Timbretti Gugiu and the women’s Synchro 3 m, with Elena Bertocchi and Chiara Pellacani.

The Mixed 3 m Synchro title went to the Swiss pair of Guillaume Dutoit and Madeline Coquoz.

Brazil captured both 10 m Platform events, with Isaac Souza taking the men’s event and Ingrid Oliveira winning the women’s. Spain’s Alberto Arevalo Alcon won the men’s 3m Springboard and Inge Jansen (NED) won the women’s 3 m title.

Fencing ● The USA Fencing National Championships are on in Philadelphia, with competition through the 12th, but with the elite division this weekend.

Most of the U.S. team prepping for Tokyo were not competing, so the door was open for new champions. The women’s championships were held on Saturday, with 17-year-old Hadley Husisian winning in Epee over Michaela Joyce in the final by 15-8. World Junior Champion May Tieu won the women’s Foil division with a 15-11 defeat of Maia Weintraub in the final, and 2018 World Juniors silver medalist Chloe Fox-Gitomer won the women’s Sabre over 2016 national champion Kamali Thompson, in a tight, 15-14 final.

/Updated/The men’s Division I finals saw a remarkable finish in Epee, as 54th-ranked Matthew Comes edged Skyler Liverant – ranked 124th coming – in the title match, 15-14. Two-time U.S. champ Nick Itkin – headed to Tokyo – won his third Foil title with a 15-7 defeat of 2019 National Champion Adam Mathieu, and in Sabre, 10th-ranked Colby Harley won the Sabre title with a 15-10 win over no. 17 Noah Te Velde.

Football ● The UEFA Euro 2020 tournament has reached the semifinal stage, with Denmark’s tournament starting with the near-death of star midfielder Christian Eriksen but now headed to Wembley Stadium in London on 7 July after a 2-1 win in Baku (AZE) over the Czech Republic in Baku on Saturday. A header by Thomas Delaney in the ninth minute and a laser shot by Kasper Dolberg in the 42nd minute were enough to get a match-up with England.

The English continued their streak of not conceding a goal in the tournament with a 4-0 thrashing of Ukraine in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico in Saturday’s second game, increasing its scoring edge for the tournament to 8-0. Harry Kane scored in the fourth minute and again in the 50th to give him three goals for the tournament.

The Denmark-England semi will be played in front of 60,000 delirious fans in London; England last reached the semis in 1996 (when it finished third); Denmark won the tournament in 1992, its last appearance in the semis.

The first semifinal on 6 July, will pit traditional powers Italy and Spain. The Spanish played Switzerland to a 1-1 tie after 120 minutes (with the Swiss giving up an own goal), then won on penalty kicks, 3-1. Spain’s wins in the Round of 16 and quarterfinals both required extra time or longer.

Italy out-lasted Belgium, 2-1, in a hard-fought quarterfinal in Munich, with all of the goals in the first half. Nicolo Barella scored in the 31st minute, followed by Lorenzo Insigne in the 44th minute and that was enough. Belgian pressure throughout the second half could not produce a goal and the FIFA no. 1-ranked team was eliminated. Going into the game, Belgium was 4-0 and had out-scored its opponents 8-1. But Italy, which did not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is back as a force in world football.

The Copa America continues in Brazil, with the reports of Covid positives now receding as the knock-out stage eliminates teams. The last report showed 166 positives related to teams and officials, but on the field, only four teams are left from the original 10: Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Colombia.

In the quarter-finals, Brazil got a goal from Lucas Paqueta in the first minute of the second half and held on for a 1-0 win over Chile in Rio de Janeiro. Peru and Paraguay played to a 3-3 result before going to penalties, with Peru winning, 4-3.

On Saturday, Uruguay and Colombia played to a scoreless tie with Colombia advancing on penalties, 4-2. Argentina had a difficult time breaking down the Ecuadorian defense in the first half, but finally got a goal from Rodrigo De Paul in the 40th minute and late scores from Lautaro Martinez in the 94th minute and Lionel Messi at 90+3 to win, 3-0.

Brazil and Peru will meet on Monday in Rio and Argentina and Colombia will play in Brasilia on Tuesday.

Gymnastics ● The FIG Rhythmic World Challenge Cup in Minsk (BLR) was a showcase for seven-time European Championships medalist Alina Harnasko of Belarus.

She won the All-Around at 103.700, ahead of Russian Lala Kramarenko (103.300) and Anastasiia Salos (BLR: 102.500). Harnasko won in Hoop (27.700), Ball (28.600) and Clubs (27.500), while Kramarenko was the winner in Ribbon (24.500) and was runner-up to Harnasko in Ball (27.100) and Clubs (26.800) and third in Hoop. Salos was the runner-up in Hoop (27.400) and in Ribbon (23.550).

Shooting ● The massive ISSF World Cup in Osijek (CRO) finished on Saturday, with Russia ending the 10 days of competition atop the medals table with 18 and seven wins, ahead of Italy and Germany with 10 each; Italy had six wins in all.

Lots of team events during the final week, with Russia defeating France in the men’s 50 m Rifle/3 Positions, and the Russian women sailing past Austria’s in the women’s final. Poland had an easy win in the final of the Mixed 50 m Rifle/3 Positions over Croatia.

In the 25 m Pistol program, the husband-and-wife duo of Christian and Sandra Reitz won the 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol Mixed Team title and Reitz led the German men’s team to a win over the Czech Republic in the men’s team final. The Czech women won the 25 m Pistol team event over Ukraine.

In Trap, France won the men’s event over the Czechs, the British won the women’s team event by beating Russia, and the Mixed Team title went to Italy, over Russia.

The individual events went to Russia’s Yulia Karimova in the women’s 50 m Rifle/3 Positions over teammate Yulia Zykova; France’s Olympic silver medalist Jean Quiquampoix won the men’s 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol over Olympic champ Reitz, 35-34, and India’s Rahi Sarnobat took the women’s 25 m Pistol title.

Italy swept the Trap events, with 2019 Worlds silver winner Mauro De Filippis taking the men’s event and 2018 Worlds bronze medalist Silvana Stanco leading a 1-2 finish with Jessica Rossi, 46-44, in the women’s final.

Sport Climbing ● The IFSC World Cup in Villars (SUI) offered events in Lead and Speed, with Olympic favorite Janja Garnbret (SLO) continuing her march to Tokyo.

She won the Lead event convincingly, reaching the top in both the semifinal and final, finishing ahead of Laura Rogora (ITA: Top) and American Natalia Grossman (42+). It’s Garnbret’s fourth World Cup win this season.

Garnbret was 13th in Speed, her worst event, with a Russian 1-2 in the final, as Ekaterina Barashchuk (7.30) outpaced Iullia Kaplina (8.39).

American Sean Bailey took the men’s Lead title with 38 holds in the final, ahead of Alexander Megos (GER: 35+) with Colin Duffy of the U.S. in third. It’s Bailey’s second World Cup win in five weeks; he also took the Bouldering title in Salt Lake City at the end of May, making him a potential medal threat for Tokyo, but he isn’t on the U.S. team! Duffy is, and Megos has also been selected.

Indonesia’s Veddriq Leonardo, the world-record holder, won the Speed title at 5.32 in the final, beating Dmitrii Timofeev (RUS: 7.35).

Weightlifting ● /Updated/The USA Weightlifting National Championships continued in Detroit with five Tokyo-bound Olympians all winning their classes.

In the men’s classes, U.S. Olympians won at 73 kg, 81 kg and 109+ kg. Clarence Cummings, Jr. repeated as national champion at 73 kg, making all six of his lifts and totaled 315.0 kg for the win, with Mohamed Omar second at 284 kg. Harrison Maurus won at 81 kg, also defending his title from 2020, lifting a combined total of 350 kg, to 319 kg for Matt Rattray. Veteran Caine Wilkes scored his sixth national championship with a total of 394 kg, ahead of Alejandro Medina (363 kg).

In the lighter classes, Howard Roche Cintron won at 55 kg (211 kg), Hampton Morris took the 61 kg class at 271 kg, and Ryan Grimsland won a tight battle at 67 kg, totaling 296 kg to edge Jordan Wissinger (293 kg) and Jacob Horst (292 kg).

Beau Brown was the winner at 334 kg at 89 kg; Jason Bonnick won at 96 kg with a 343 kg total (over 2010 champion Phil Sabbatini with 342!) and Ryan Sester took the 102 kg crown, lifting 352 kg. Ian Wilson was an impressive winner at 109 kg, lifting 380 kg combined to win by 28 kg for his second national title, but first since 2012!

Tokyo-bound stars Katie Nye and Mattie Rogers headlined the women’s champions. Nye won her second national title – and first since 2018 – with a combined 240 kg total at 76 kg, well ahead of Allee Tallman (227 kg). Rogers won her fifth national crown across three weight classes with a 255 kg total at 81 kg, just ahead of Jessie Stemo with 250 kg.

Katie Grob won the lightest class, 45 kg, lifting 130 kg; Hayley Reichardt took the 49 kg division with 183 kg, just ahead of Maddison Pannell, who lifted 182 kg, and Janyce Okamoto won at 55 kg with 177 kg while runner-up Maria Hayden claimed 176 kg.

Kelly Wild defended her 2020 title at 59 kg, just edging Shayla Moore by 200 kg to 199, by completing her third Clean & Jerk try at 115 kg, after missing twice at 112 kg! The 64 kg class was just as tight, as Jaclyn Long managed 205 kg for a second national title, making four of six lifts, while Lydia Scott claimed 204 kg (2 of 6) and Taylor Lumpp totaled 203 kg (3 of 6).

Meredith Alwine defended her 2020 title at 71 kg, lifting 239 kg to win by 15 kg; Laura Alexander took the 87 kg class with 237 kg and Mary Theisen-Lappen won at 87+, lifting a combined 267 kg for a 50-kg margin of victory.

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