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  1. MLB notebook: Pablo Sandoval planning to sign minor league contract with GiantsFri, 21 Jul 2017 03:22:04 +0000
    Pablo Sandoval plans to sign a minor league contract to return to the San Francisco Giants, a person with knowledge of his intentions said.The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been announced. MLB.com first reported Sandoval’s pending return.Sandoval technically will not be free to agree to a deal with a team until 1 p.m. EDT on Friday upon clearing waivers. Giants General Manager Bobby Evans declined to confirm San Francisco’s interest in bringing back the Kung Fu Panda, as he became known and beloved in the Bay Area.Whether that affection for the burly switch-hitter remains is yet to be seen — and Sandoval is scheduled to play with Triple-A Sacramento at least initially.The Boston Red Sox released Sandoval on Wednesday when the third baseman didn’t report after being designated for assignment last week.It officially ended the Boston tenure for the slugger, who never was healthy enough to live up to the expectations that came with the $95 million free agent contract he signed in 2014 — bolting the Bay Area shortly after helping the Giants win their third World Series title this decade. At the time, he had pondered an offer from the Giants worth close to $100 million over five years.Gov. Christie reactsDays after catching boos after snagging a foul ball at a Mets game, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he’s never seen a politician cheered at a sporting event except for President George W. Bush after 9/11.Christie said Thursday he knew he needed to give the ball he caught during Tuesday night’s game to a kid or he’d get even more criticism. The Republican says that booing comes with the job and noted that TV cameras didn’t capture the 10 to 12 people taking pictures with him between innings.Christie was sitting in the third row, near the New York dugout. In the third inning, St. Louis rookie Paul DeJong lifted a high foul that bounced in the stands. Christie reached out with his left hand and snagged it.Mets make movesAsdrubal Cabrera, who began the season as the New York Mets’ shortstop but moved over to second base about a month ago to fill in for the injured Neil Walker, will begin taking grounders at third base. Cabrera is expected to see action there when Walker returns, Collins said.Walker, who’s recovering from a partial tear of his left hamstring, is set to begin a rehab assignment on Friday with Triple-A Las Vegas and could be activated on Monday in San Diego. He will also take ground balls at third as well as at first base.“We’ve got to start to use a little bit of the versatility that those guys bring to give us a chance each and every day, perhaps adjust the lineup by moving those guys around a little bit,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. More...
  2. O.J. Simpson granted parole in Nevada robberyFri, 21 Jul 2017 03:13:07 +0000
    LOVELOCK, Nev.: O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday after more than eight years in prison for a Las Vegas hotel-room heist, successfully making his case for freedom in a nationally televised hearing that reflected America’s enduring fascination with the former football star.Simpson, 70, could be released as early as Oct. 1. By then, he will have served the minimum of his nine-to-33-year sentence for a bungled attempt to snatch sports memorabilia he claimed had been stolen from him.During the more than hourlong hearing on live TV, Simpson was, by turns, remorseful, jovial and defensive, heatedly insisting the items taken in the armed robbery were “my stuff.”At one point, the murder defendant in the 1995 “Trial of the Century” set off a storm of sarcasm and incredulity on social media when he said, “I’ve basically spent a conflict-free life, you know.”All four parole commissioners who conducted the hearing voted for his release after a half-hour of deliberations. They cited, among other things, the low risk he might commit another crime, his community support and his release plans, which include moving to Florida.“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Simpson said quietly as he buried his head on his chest with relief. As he rose from his seat to return to his prison cell, he exhaled deeply.Then, as he was led down a hall, the hall of fame athlete raised his hands over his head in a victory gesture and said: “Oh, God, oh!”Simpson was widely expected to win parole, given similar cases and his good behavior behind bars. His defenders have argued, too, that his sentence was out of proportion to the crime and that he was being punished for the two murders he was acquitted of in Los Angeles in 1995, the stabbings of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.Inmate No. 1027820 made his plea for freedom in a stark hearing room at the Lovelock Correctional Center in rural Nevada as the parole commissioners questioned him via video from Carson City, a two-hour drive away.Gray-haired but looking trimmer than he has in recent years, Simpson walked stiffly into the hearing room in jeans, a light-blue prison-issue shirt and sneakers. He chuckled at one point as the parole board chairwoman mistakenly gave his age as 90.Simpson insisted he never meant to hurt anyone, never pointed a gun and didn’t make any threats during the holdup of two sports memorabilia dealers.“I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it just wasn’t worth it,” he told the board. “It wasn’t worth it, and I’m sorry.”Even one of the dealers Simpson robbed, Bruce Fromong, testified on his behalf, telling the parole board that Simpson deserved to be released so he could be with his family.“He is a good man. He made a mistake,” Fromong said, adding the two remain friends.Arnelle Simpson, at 48 the eldest of Simpson’s four children, told the board, “We recognize that he is not the perfect man.” But she said he has been “a perfect inmate, following all the rules and making the best of the situation.”“We just want him to come home, we really do,” she said.The commissioners said the murder case played no role in their decision, though a majority of letter writers opposed to Simpson’s release asked the board to take it into account.Among those angered by Thursday’s decision were Goldman’s father, Fred, and sister, Kim.“The Goldmans are devastated,” said family spokesman Michael Wright, adding they didn’t want to say anything more.Simpson said that he has spent his time in prison mentoring fellow inmates, often keeping them out of trouble, and that he has become a better person behind bars.“I’ve done my time. I’ve done it as well and respectfully as I think anybody can,” he told the board. More...
  3. Sports news briefs July 21Fri, 21 Jul 2017 03:08:31 +0000
    COLLEGE FOOTBALLMississippi coach resigns
amid escort allegations• Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze, 47, abruptly resigned Thursday night after school officials reportedly found a pattern of phone calls to a number associated with a female escort service, ESPN reported.Freeze, who made more than $5 million per year, had a 39-25 record over five seasons, including a 19-21 mark in the SEC, but his tenure was overshadowed by an NCAA investigation into academic, booster and recruiting misconduct.• Alabama running back B.J. Emmons, one of the nation’s top running back recruits in 2016, transferred to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.• Florida senior safety Marcell Harris will miss the season after tearing his right Achilles tendon during conditioning drills.NBAUdonis Haslem to return
to Heat for 15th season• Three-time NBA champion Udonis Haslem signed a one-year, $2.3 million deal to remain with the Miami Heat for his 15th season, longest in team history.• The Utah Jazz signed Eric Griffin to a two-way contract. Griffin was a member of the Jazz at NBA summer leagues.NFLChris Johnson signs deal
with Cardinals as backup• The Arizona Cardinals re-signed nine-year running back Chris Johnson, 31, to a one-year contract. He is expected to be a backup for David Johnson.• The Dallas Cowboys re-signed linebacker Justin Durant, who spent the 2013-14 seasons in Dallas before going to Atlanta for a year.TENNISDefending champ loses
in Hall of Fame match• Peter Gojowczyk upset defending champ Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (5), 6-7 (1), 7-6 (4) in a Hall of Fame Tennis Championships quarterfinal in Newport, R.I.• Rogerio Dutra Silva upset second-seeded Gael Monfils 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Croatia Open.• No. 1 seed Caroline Garcia lost to 140th-ranked Tereza Martincova 7-5, 7-6 (1) in the second round at the Gstaad Ladies Championship in Switzerland.OTHER SPORTSMajor League Soccer
will adopt video reviews• Major League Soccer will begin using video review for all matches on Aug. 5. MLS has been testing the system this season.• The St. Louis Blues signed defenseman Colton Parayko to a $27.5 million, five-year contract.• U.S. Olympic gold medalist Bridgette Gordon, who led Tennessee to two national titles, is returning to her alma mater as an assistant basketball coach.• Oklahoma assistant Jim Garren, who helped the Sooners to the national title this spring, will take over the men’s golf program at Coastal Carolina.• Chad Holbrook was hired as College of Charleston’s baseball coach, less than two months after he resigned from South Carolina.— From wire reports More...
  4. Outdoors almanacFri, 21 Jul 2017 03:08:26 +0000
    CALENDAR• Aug. 5 — The Portage Summit Field and Stream Club in Deerfield Township will conduct a free youth day event from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Youths ages 10 to 16 will enjoy a day of instruction in the correct and safe use of air rifles, shotgun (trap) shooting, archery, muzzleloading rifles and fishing. Lunch, all safety equipment and ammunition will be provided and made possible by a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. For more information or to register, email robert291@sbcglobal.net, call 330-597-3009 or visit psfsclub.com.• Aug. 7 — Lunker Luggers Bass Club of Kent is seeking new members who are boaters or nonboaters. Meetings are at 7:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month at On Tap Grille & Bar, 4396 Kent Road, Stow. For more information, call 330-289-2752 or email zack1852@att.net. For more information, visit kentlunkerluggers.com.• Aug. 8 — The Goodyear Hunting & Fishing Club meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Mogadore VFW Hall, 385 Randolph Road, Mogadore. Its mission is to involve youths in outdoor activities. New members are welcome. For more information, call Steve Issacs at 330-928-7169 or email sisaacs55@gmail.com.• Aug. 10 — Buckeye Outdoors Youth Education & Shooting Center, 1665 Jacoby Road, Copley Township, is accepting archery registrations for youths age 9 to 18 for a six-week program for all skill levels including beginners. A safety class for first-year archers is 7 to 8 p.m. Range time begins Aug. 14 at 6 p.m. Lessons will be given on Mondays and Wednesdays depending on the archer’s skill level. The three levels of instruction provided include: 10-yard bag, 20-yard bag/3-D and a walk-through 3-D course. Bring your own bow or one will be provided. Program cost is $25 and includes a T-shirt and awards. Registration is limited. For more information, call Brad Harker at 330-703-5097 or Jason Drerup at 330-441-2312.• Aug. 20 — The Portage Summit Field and Stream Club, 8504 U.S. Route 224, Deerfield Township, meets at 2 p.m. the third Sunday of each month. Meetings are open to the public and to those interested in becoming a member. For more information, visit psfsclub.com or call Earl Watson at 330-858-5465.SHOOTS• Friday — Lenape Trail Sportsman Club, 15413 Salt Creek Road, Mount Eaton, will host protector trap shoots at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call 330-695-9826.• Friday — The Bolivar Sportsman’s Club, 11286 Bolivar-Strasburg Road NW, Bolivar, hosts open trap shoots at 6:30 p.m. every Friday. For more information, call 330-874-3175.• Friday — The Lake Milton Fish & Game Club, 4375 Bedell Road, Berlin Center, hosts open and protector trap shoots at 6 p.m. every Friday. New shooters are welcome. For more information, call Dean at 330-557-4001.• Saturday — The Edinburg Sportsmen’s Association, 7261 Tallmadge Road, Edinburg Township, is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays for practice shoots. New shooters are welcome. For more information, call 330-472-7206 or go to edinburgsportsmens.webs.com.• Saturday — The Copley Trap Range, 1665 Jacoby Road, Copley Township, is open to the public for trap shooting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. National Rifle Association-certified instructors, shotgun rentals and shells are available. For details, visit copleytrap.com or call 330-310-0845. For more information, call Harvey Bechtel at 330-620-6909.• Sunday — Sportsmen’s Shooting Center, 6501 State St., Louisville, is open to the public for skeet, trap and five-stand shooting from noon to 4 p.m. The club welcomes new shooters to practice or to join a league. For normal hours of operation or more information, call 330-875-8081 or go to sportsmensshootingcenter.com.• Tuesday — The North Industry Sportsmen’s Club, 7825 Beth Ave., Navarre, hosts trap shoots at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays. The club opens for shooters at 5:30 p.m. All shooters are welcome. For more information, call Dennis Hayhurst at 330-280-0933.• Tuesday — The Portage-Summit Field & Stream Club, 8504 U.S. 224, Deerfield Township, holds trap shoots at 5 p.m. Tuesdays. All are welcome. For more information,visit psfsclub.com.• Wednesday — The Lost Arrow Archery Club, 3370 17th St. SW, Massillon, has half-course 3-D shoots on Wednesday nights. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. All archers and all types of bows are welcome. For more information, call 330-844-1997.HUNTER EDThose purchasing an Ohio hunting license for the first time must complete a hunter education course. Additionally, Ohio hunters seeking licenses in other states may be required to show proof that they completed such a course. There is no charge. For more information, call 800-WILDLIFE.LET US KNOW• Seeking events — If you have an outdoors event planned, please submit the information to the Beacon Journal for inclusion in the Outdoors Almanac. Minimum information needed is: type of event, date, time, place (please include an address), cost and a number to call for further information. Include a website if applicable. Please submit items by email to outdoorsabj@yahoo.com or by fax at 330-996-3629. More...
  5. British Open leaderboardFri, 21 Jul 2017 02:56:25 +0000
    Jordan Spieth -5Brooks Koepka -5Matt Kuchar -5Paul Casey -4Charl Schwartzel -4Ian Poulter -3Justin Thomas -3Richard Bland -3Austin Connelly -3Charley Hoffman -3Rafael Cabrera Bello -3Friday’s TV: 9:30 a.m. (GOLF) More...
  6. British Open: American stars top the leaderboard after first round at Royal BirkdaleFri, 21 Jul 2017 02:56:13 +0000
    SOUTHPORT, England: The wind off the Irish Sea pushed away the rain clouds and bathed Royal Birkdale in sunshine, Stars and Stripes.The British Open began Thursday with an All-American flavor.Jordan Spieth, chomping away on gum as he watched one putt after another pour into the center of the cup, worked some bunker magic of his own late in the round to keep his card filled only with birdies and pars for a 5-under 65.U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, with no competition and barely any practice since capturing his first major a month ago, ran off three consecutive birdies and holed a tough shot from a pot bunker for eagle on the par-5 17th hole for a 5-under 65.Joining them was Matt Kuchar, who first endeared himself to these British fans as a 19-year-old amateur in 1998 at Royal Birkdale. Kuchar tied the course record with a 29 on the front nine, only to fall into a routine of pars the rest of the way. He still shot 65, his best score ever in a major.They had a 1-shot lead over Paul Casey and Charl Schwartzel on a day that started nasty and ended with 39 players breaking par. The biggest question after a long day on the links was what was in store for Friday, when high wind and occasional showers were in the forecast.“I thought today’s round was extremely important, as they all are,” Spieth said, atop the leaderboard at a major for the first time since last year’s Masters. “But given the forecast coming in, I thought you really needed to be in the red today. You can certainly make up ground in a round tomorrow, and we’ll see it happen. But being able to kind of play with shots, or play a little more conservative because you don’t try to do too much on a day like tomorrow, that’s nice and very helpful.”Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy fall into that category.Johnson, the No. 1 player who hasn’t played the weekend at a major since the British Open last year, managed only one birdie on a decent day for scoring and shot 71. McIlroy also shot 71 and was relieved. Coming off three missed cuts in his last four events, he was 5 over through six holes when his caddie gave him a pep talk. McIlroy closed with three birdies on the last four holes to stay in it.Phil Mickelson failed to make a birdie, the first time that has happened in a major in five years, and shot 73.Kuchar was the only one at 65 who played in the afternoon. The wind remained strong, though the course was manageable for everyone who stayed out of bunkers and deep grass and who holed putts.“I watched some of the golf this morning on TV. It looked awfully challenging,” Kuchar said. “It looked like anything under par was going to be a good score. Seemed like the later your tee time, the better draw you got. … For me, to start my British Open with a 29 on the front nine is a great way to start.”Charley Hoffman had the best start of all, holing out from the rough on the daunting opening hole for an eagle. He was poised to join the leaders when he reached 5 under with a birdie on the 15th, only to drop shots on the next two holes. Hoffman shot 69 and was in a group that included Ian Poulter and Rafa Cabrera Bello.Defending champion Henrik Stenson, who played with Spieth, had a 71. Stenson also played with Spieth the first two rounds of the 2015 Masters that the Texan won wire-to-wire and knew what to expect.“He was rolling it superbly that week, and I don’t think it was that far behind today,” Stenson said.But his best shot was with his feet in the sand. Spieth was in thick rough to the right of the 16th fairway when his shot crept into the back of a pot bunker. Not only was the ball on a slight slope, but rake marks also left his ball between two ridges.“This is dangerous,” he said to his caddie.He aimed to the right of the hole to avoid it going off the green on the other side and into another bunker, and it came off perfectly about 10 feet away.“That was awesome,” were his next words to his caddie.He made the par putt — Spieth made a lot of putts on picked up a two-putt birdie on the 17th and narrowly missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the last. It was his best start in a major since he shot 66 at the Masters a year ago. Spieth rated it among the top five or six rounds he has ever played in a major, not bad for someone who came close to the Grand Slam two years ago.“I couldn’t have done much better today,” he said.Royal Birkdale was much more kind than it was nine years ago in raging wind and rain. The 146th Open began in cool temperatures, a light rain and a strong wind. Mark O’Meara, a winner at Royal Birkdale in 1998 who is playing in his last British Open, hit the opening tee shot.And then he hit another one.O’Meara’s first shot was lost in the gorse, he made a quadruple-bogey 8 and was on his way to an 81. His threesome required 18 shots to play that hole. But the weather settled down a few hours later, and the scorecards filled up with plenty of birdies and eagles.Just not for McIlroy until late in the round, or Johnson and Mickelson all day.“With the weather we’re expecting tomorrow, I still feel I’m in the golf tournament,” McIlroy said. “If I can go out and play a good, quality round of golf in the morning and try to get in the clubhouse somewhere around even par, under par, I’ll still be around for the weekend.” More...
  7. Cavaliers talking contract with Derrick RoseFri, 21 Jul 2017 02:55:36 +0000
    CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers could be adding another former Most Valuable Player to their roster.Looking to close the gap on the champion Golden State Warriors, the Cavs are in contract talks with free-agent guard Derrick Rose, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press on Thursday. Rose, whose career has been sidetracked by injuries, could sign a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, according to the person, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.The Cavs have salary cap issues and are limited in what they can offer Rose, who made $21.3 million while playing in 64 games for the New York Knicks last season.ESPN.com first reported the Cavs’ pursuit of the 28-year-old Rose. Other teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, are interested in him.Although Rose is not the same player he was in 2011 when he was named the league’s MVP while with the Chicago Bulls, he can still score and would be another nice complement to LeBron James, a four-time MVP.The Cavs signed free agent Jose Calderon last month as a backup to All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. Rose, if healthy, would be a better option than the 34-year-old Calderon.The Cavs struggled to fill the backup role last season after allowing Matthew Dellavedova to leave as a free agent after the 2016 championship.Rose has averaged 19.5 points and 6.0 assists since being drafted first overall by the Bulls in 2008. He was a three-time All-Star during his seven seasons with the Bulls. More...
  8. Browns coach Hue Jackson launches foundation, announces plans to provide housing for victims of human traffickingFri, 21 Jul 2017 02:55:30 +0000
    BEREA: The Hue Jackson Foundation will provide much-needed refuge for victims of human trafficking in Northeast Ohio.Browns coach Hue Jackson launched his foundation Thursday night during an invitation-only event at team headquarters and announced a partnership with the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland to help fund safe housing for women who are victims of trafficking.An existing facility will be upgraded and called the Hue Jackson Survivors of Human Trafficking Residence.Jackson and his wife, Michelle, parents of three daughters, made it known combating trafficking is a cause they hold close to their hearts.“There are elements of this that we’ve seen firsthand. A lot of different areas in this realm that we’re talking about we’ve witnessed and have been privy to,” Hue Jackson said. “So it’s something that me and Michelle really discussed at length about what direction to go in and this is where it led.”Speaking to a crowd of about 125 guests, Jackson emphasized the importance of raising awareness about trafficking. The amount of cases in Ohio is among the most in the U.S., according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.“This is an issue that I think kind of goes uncovered, and a lot of people really don’t want to talk about it,” Jackson said. “But I’ve never been that way. I’m not afraid of a challenge.“We wanted to find something that we can make a huge impact in, not something that we just put our hands in or put our foot in. We’re all in. We rolled up our sleeves and we’re going to dive in, and we want to make a difference in this area.”Finding housing where women are secure from their traffickers is a challenge, with estimates showing there are fewer than 100 beds available in the country for approximately 100,000 victims who are identified annually.The Cleveland facility backed by Jackson’s foundation will include beds for 12 women, a community gathering room, rest rooms and shared office space for law enforcement, health care and social service professionals who work with victims. The Renee Jones Empowerment Center, which fosters opportunities for the disadvantaged and fights human trafficking, will use the office as well.“Coach and Mrs. Jackson, thank you and your family for doing this,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said as he spoke to the crowd. “You took a big spotlight and put it on this problem.“It’s going to matter. Lives are going to be changed.”Jackson, 51, said he wanted to start his first foundation partly because Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam encourage members of the franchise to give back to the community.“I’ve always had ambition to have [a foundation],” Jackson said. “But being around Dee and Jimmy and watching what they do in the community and all of the different avenues and all of the different people that I’ve watched our organization touch ... you can’t help but want to do better. And the other reason is we want to embed ourselves in the community. It’s not just about being a football coach here. It’s bigger than that.”Jackson will hold his first fundraising event, “Breaking Down the Game — An Evening with Coach Jackson,” from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 2. Jackson will break down Browns game film and discuss his playbook with fans.More information will be available when the foundation’s website goes live Friday at www.huejackson.org.Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports. More...
  9. Tour de France: Chris Froome closes in on third consecutive victoryFri, 21 Jul 2017 02:50:52 +0000
    COL D’IZOARD, France: On the highest mountain-top finish of the 104th Tour de France, in a rocky moonscape where the air thins, only the hardiest organisms survive. A few pine trees, tough old grasses, some stubborn flowers and, now joining that rare breed, Chris Froome.Putting one hand on what would be his third consecutive Tour crown and fourth overall since his first win in 2013, Froome emerged from the Alps on Thursday with the yellow jersey fixed firmly on his shoulders. Having chewed his way through nearly 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) of French roads, just three stages now stand between the Briton and top spot on the Champs-Elysees podium in Paris on Sunday night. And one of those is a time trial race against the clock, a discipline he excels in — having provided him with bronze medals at the Olympics of 2012 and 2016.With opportunities to dethrone the three-time champion quickly running out, French rider Romain Bardet and his AG2R team again put pedal to the metal and tried to make Froome crack on the last huge climb of this Tour, piling on the pace up the punishing Col d’Izoard — the culmination of Thursday’s Stage 18 and one of the toughest tests in a three-week race that has produced surprises aplenty.Froome was in no mood to be at the receiving end of another one.Fending off Bardet’s attacks, and putting in a strong one of his own that initially rattled yet didn’t shake off the sturdy Frenchman, he preserved a cushion of 23 seconds overall that, unless disaster strikes in the shape of a crash or other misfortune, should be enough for victory.“I wouldn’t say it’s quite won,” Froome said, before confidently adding: “The toughest part of the Tour is behind us.”French rider Warren Barguil triumphed on the Izoard’s barren slopes, winning his second stage of the tour after he attacked with six kilometers (four miles) left to climb to the top. He also won Stage 13 on Bastille Day.Barguil gradually reeled in riders ahead of him on the hairpin bends and steep road — the last being John Darwin Atapuma of Colombia, with about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) left to the finish, at an altitude of 2,360 meters (7,743 feet), amid deserts of scree.He is now guaranteed to win the polka-dot jersey awarded for points collected during the Tour on climbs — an even more impressive feat considering he suffered a pelvis fracture in a crash in April and was struck by a car on a training ride last year, fracturing his wrist.“I had a lot hard luck. Luck is now on my side,” he said. “I had big problems, but I never gave up.”Froome’s lead, while far smaller than at the same stage in the Tours he won in 2013, 2015 and 2016, is sufficient for him not to have to take unnecessary risks on the twisting and technical time-trial course in Marseille on Saturday. His Team Sky should also be strong enough to control the race on Friday’s stage out of the Alps through Provence, which isn’t tough enough to provoke a big shake-up in the standings. And Sunday’s ride into Paris is traditionally a procession before only the sprinters contest victory at the end.In short, Froome is 95 percent of the way there.“I’m happy that I went through the Alps without any major problem,” the 32-year-old Froome said. “I normally find the Alps more difficult.”By beating Froome in a final sprint to finish third at the top of the Izoard, placing behind Barguil and Atapuma, Bardet clawed back four valuable bonus seconds. That moved him up to second overall, relegating Rigoberto Uran to third.“I gave it all, I thought I was going to suffocate as I crossed the line,” Bardet said. “I have no regrets, I did everything I could.”Uran lost a bit of ground and a couple of seconds to Bardet and Froome in the Izoard’s final ramp and now trails Froome by 29 seconds. Bardet and Uran are the only riders within a minute of Froome, after Italian Fabio Aru again faded on that climb and continued his slide down the overall rankings. Going into the Alps, Aru was second overall, breathing down Froome’s neck. He is now fifth and nearly two minutes behind his rival.Despite the odds stacking in Froome’s favor, Bardet isn’t ready to concede defeat.“It’s still possible,” he said. “I’ll try to finish in a beautiful fashion.”But the reality is that Bardet is not the time-trial force that Froome is.Froome identified Uran as his “biggest threat” in the clock-race and will be watching the Colombian most closely.“It’s still a close race,” Froome said. “But we’re in a good position.” More...
  10. NASCAR: Hendrick Motorsports names Alex Bowman as replacement for retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr.Fri, 21 Jul 2017 02:50:34 +0000
    INDIANAPOLIS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. got the replacement he wanted. Alex Bowman got his dream job.Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday that the 24-year-old Bowman will replace one of the series’ biggest stars in the No. 88 car next season after Earnhardt retires.Bowman has big shoes to fill. Earnhardt was named NASCAR’s most popular driver each of the last 14 seasons and fans of his late father often tracked Junior’s results following Dale Earnhardt’s fatal crash in the 2001 season opener at Daytona.“Ever since I was a kid, racing is all I’ve wanted to do,” Bowman said. “I’ve had so many people believe in me along the way. My family has sacrificed a lot and always been behind me. I would never have this chance without the support of Dale and everyone involved with the No. 88 team. To be part of Hendrick Motorsports and for Mr. Hendrick to have this confidence in me, it’s just amazing.”Bowman already has some experience in this job. When the 42-year-old Earnhardt missed 18 races because of a concussion last season, Bowman started 10 of them in the No. 88, winning the first Cup pole of his career and finishing in the top 10 three times.That was enough to get Earnhardt’s attention and eventually an endorsement in May.“Alex Bowman to the 88 next year — is that what you guys want?” Junior asked during a livestream on Periscope following the series’ All-Star race. “That would be pretty awesome to see Alex in that car. That’s the plan, I hope. … Yeah, Alex in the 88. That sounds good to me. That kid earned it last year. He ran good.”The 24-year-old Bowman performed well enough to get several full-time offers to drive in the Cup series this year.Instead, he stayed patient. Bowman said he turned down each offer as he continued searching for the right situation. The Tucson, Arizona, native wound up with no full-time ride in 2017.But with Earnhardt’s concussion history, Bowman likely knew it wouldn’t be long until he stepped away. Rick Hendrick’s team contemplated its options for months before finally deciding bring back Bowman.In 81 career Cup starts and 50 career starts in the Xfinity Series, Bowman has never won a race. But he had 13 top-finishes and won three poles on the Xfinity circuit before blossoming in Earnhardt’s car last season.He joins a series that is clearly in transition.With television ratings and attendance sagging and three major stars — Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Earnhardt — retiring since 2015, Bowman will become yet another prominent fresh face in a series that currently has five drivers who are in their 20s in the top 15.The announcement comes two days before Earnhardt attempts to qualify for his final Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis. The race is scheduled to be run Sunday. More...
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