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Belgian Dylan Teuns claims victory in sixth stage of Tour de France

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Belgian Dylan Teuns won Stage 6 of the Tour de France.

Giulio Ciccone claimed the overall leader’s yellow jersey

New Delhi: Belgian Dylan Teuns won the sixth stage of the Tour de France, a 160.5 km ride from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles, on Thursday.

The Bahrain Merida rider defeated Italian Giulio Ciccone, who claimed the overall leader’s yellow jersey after the 7km final climb at an average gradient of 8.7%.

Teuns and Ciccone were rewarded for their daring performance in Thursday’s Stage 6. Teuns shook off Ciccone on the final 24% incline at the top of the ski station.

Ciccone still managed to wrest the yellow jersey off Julian Alaphilippe, the French rider who battled behind to keep hold of the race lead, only to come up a few seconds short.

Belgian Xandro Meurisse took third place, while, defending champion Geraint Thomas took fourth place, ahead of Thibaut Pinot of France, who took fifth place.

“I felt pretty good. I thought it would be a more solid day – it’s never easy, but it was steady for the first three climbs. But it was a good day in the end,” said Thomas.

Cycling

Tour de France in search of new hero after Froome’s absence

Mario Rodrigues

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The 2019 edition of the Tour de France flags off from Brussels on July 6.

Mumbai: Most sporting disciplines ride on the appeal of a celebrity sportsperson or two. In European football it is still a Messi vs Ronaldo show, while Indian cricket which used to be marketed on the Tendulkar phenomenon now has a Kolhi.

Ditto for the Tour de France, cycling’s greatest extravaganza and most grueling event. For the last six years it has pedaled along on the wheels of one man, Chris Froome. This year he won’t be around.

The four-time winner’s decision to pull out from the 2019 edition which flags off from Brussels on July 6 has not only thrown the field wide open but has left the event looking for a new hero to build their hype upon.

The 34-year-old British cyclist’s horrific crash during the Critérium du Dauphiné in mid-June resulting in multiple fractures precipitated his pull out and will make his quest for a record equaling fifth title all the more difficult in the future.

“Without him, it will not be the same again,” admitted race director Christian Prudhomme while musing about the loss of the “central character” (of the race) since 2013”.

Last year, Froome’s 33-year-old colleague Geraint Thomas at Team Sky (now Team Ineos) had seized the initiative by winning the 11th and 12th mountain stages and never looked back thereafter. Froome, who finished 2 mins 24 secs behind in third place, was happy to ride as a domestique and secure Thomas’ victory.

The Welshman has now been anointed as overwhelming favourite to defend his general classification title in the 106th edition of La Grand Boucle (or the “Great Loop” as the tour is also called) by several pundits as last year’s second placed Tom Dumoulin’s knee injury during the recent Giro d’Italia has also rendered the Dutchman hors de combat.

Thomas had himself crashed out of the Tour de Suisse last month but has hopefully recovered well enough to mount a strong challenge again.

Thomas will however have to share team leadership with young teammate Egan Bernal, 22, winner of the Swiss event.

A leading bookmaker has given both the same odds at 11/4, thus making the Colombian, winner of the Paris-Nice race in March, joint favourite to win the maillot jaune (yellow jersey).

The winner of the Critérium du Dauphiné, an eight-stage race in south-eastern France that precedes the Tour, often carries his form into the big race.

This suggests that Jakob Fuglsang, 34, the Swiss-born Danish winner of  Critérium du Dauphiné  in 2017 and 2019, besides the Vuelta a Andalucía and the one-day Liège–Bastogne–Liège this year, could be the man to beat.

Only three non-Europeans have taken home this prestigious pennant — Cadel Evans (Australia) and Americans Greg LeMond (thrice) and record seven-time winner Lance Armstrong whose titles were all annulled after he admitted to serial doping.

So it will be a daunting task for the crash prone Richie Porte (Australia) and ‘Nairo-man’ Quintana to break the present European monopoly.  But having won the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España earlier, the Colombian climber could well script a Tour victory to complete his ‘major’ hat-trick!

With two podiums and three other top 10 finishes this year, Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) will also be a strong contender to snap the catenaccio (an Italian football term signifying impregnable defence) that Team Sky had established on the proceedings. “The Shark of Messina” had won the Tour in 2014 and the Giro in 2016.

Some more riders in the mix for GC glory include Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot (both France), Dan Martin (Ireland), Mikel Landa (Spain), Rigoberto Urán (Colombia), Adam Yates (Britain) and Steven Kruijswijk (Netherlands).

In the battle for lesser honours, favourite Peter Sagan (Slovakia) will be gunning for a record seventh points classification green jersey while the polka dot jersey (King of the Mountains), white jersey (best young rider) and team classification (won by Movistar last year) are also up for grabs.

Each year, the organisers tweak the race route to enhance the degree of difficulty and make things different. The 2019 challenge includes six flat, three hilly, five medium mountain and five high mountain stages including five summit finishes, plus an individual and team time trial each giving the sprinters, climbers, descenders and all-rounders all a fair chance of making their mark.

The peak of the ascent will be the 2,770 m (9,090 ft) Col de l’Iseran pass on Stage 19 from the more difficult southern side. By then, a clear winner might probably emerge reducing the last stage to the traditional ceremonial ride down the Champs-Élysées for all except the sprinters.

The sixth stage from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles (Board of the Beautiful Girls), a ski station in the Vosges Mountains in France, is where potential champions could make a break from the peloton.

The longest stage is the seventh, Belfort to Chalon-sur- Saône(230 kms) while the shortest (not including the time trials) is the 14th, Tarbes to Col du Tourmalet (117 km).

Twenty-two teams with eight riders each will compete over 21 stages and 3460 km of varying terrain before the odyssey ends in Paris on July 28.

Doping controversies have repeatedly marred the race and several winners have been disqualified in recent years. Will this year’s edition be able to successfully negotiate this ever looming threat even as France and several other nations are gripped by ‘yellow fever’ for the next three weeks?

Key Stats:

* The Tour was started in 1903 as a strategy to boost the circulation of  L’Auto newspaper at the expense of Le Velo. It succeeded.

* The 1903 tour over 19 days, six stages and 2,428 km, was won by Maurice Garin.

* The format, rules, type of team (national or corporate), equipment, distance etc, kept changing over the years.

* In 1947 the French government gave L’Équipe sports daily the right to organize the race for which it took financial support from Émilion Amaury.

* In 1993 the Amaury Group took over L’Équipe and today owns the Tour along with several properties like the Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally etc.

* Lance Armstrong won the Tour a record seven times but all his titles were taken away after he confessed to doping.

* Other dope offenders to be stripped of their overall titles include Alberto Contador and Floyd Landis.

* Four cyclists have won the Tour five times — Jacques Anquetil (France), Eddy Merckx (Belgium), Bernard Hinault (France) and Miguel Indurain (Spain).

* Three have won it thrice – Philippe Thys (Belgium), Louison Bobet (France) and Greg LeMond (USA). Chris Froome has four wins.

* In 1903, Garin earned 6,125 francs for his overall win. Today, the overall GC winner will pocket 500,000 euros out of total prize money of 2.3 million euros.

* Since 1919, the race leader is awarded the yellow jersey after each stage. He wears it but only the overall winner wins it!

2019 Tour de France odds
Geraint Thomas: 9-4
Egan Bernal: 11-2
Jakob Fuglsang: 11-2
Adam Yates: 12-1
Richie Porte: 14-1
Nairo Quintana: 16-1
Thibaut Pinot: 18-1
Mikel Landa: 20-1
Steven Kruijswijk: 20-1
Enric Mas Nicolau: 25-1
Romain Bardet: 25-1
Vincenzo Nibali: 30-1
Rigoberto Uran: 30-1
Wouter Poels: 40-1
Emanuel Buchmann: 60-1
Daniel Martin: 80-1
Alejandro Valverde: 80-1
Rohan Dennis: 80-1
Tejay Van Garderen: 100-1
Fabio Aru: 150-1
George Bennett: 200-1
Julian Alaphilippe: 200-1
David Gaudu: 250-1
Wilco Kelderman: 250-1
Rafal Majka: 250-1

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Cycling

Dhindsa re-elected president of cycling federation

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21 states and 3 boards were present during the process

New Delhi: Parminder Singh Dhindsa was unanimously re-elected as the president of
the Cycling Federation of India (CFI), a media release stated. Himachal Pradesh Cycling Association’s Maninder Pal Singh and Pratap Jadhav from Cycling Association of Maharashtra were elected as the secretary general and treasurer of the CFI respectively.

The elections were held on June 23 at PCA Stadium in Mohali (Punjab) under the supervision of retired judge Amarnath Jindal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

SAI regional director Lalita Sharma and Dr. S M Bali joint secretary of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) attended as observers. Delhi’s Manjit Singh G K was also re-elected without contest as the vice-president.

Kerala’s S.S. Sudeesh Kumar was elected as addl. secretary of the federation. The newly-constituted management committee unanimously appointed Onkar Singh, secretary general of Asian Cycling Confederation as the chairman of CFI.

Further, Arjuna awardees Amar Singh and Minati Mohapatra will head the Athletes Commission and the Women Commission respectively.

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Chris Froome out of Tour de France after crash

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Chris Froome is a four-time champion Tour de France champion.

Paris: British cyclist Chris Froome is likely to miss this year’s Tour de France following a serious crash on Wednesday.

The four-time champion was taken to hospital with a reportedly broken femur after crashing during a reconnaissance of the race’s stage four, the Criterium du Dauphine.

“Team INEOS can confirm that Chris Froome crashed during a recon of stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine,” his team wrote on its official Twitter account. “He is on his way to a local hospital and will not start today’s fourth stage,” it added.

He lost control and his his bike hit a wall at speed on a downhill stretch of the course. “He crashed in the downhill section of the course at high speed,” Team Ineos manager Dave Brailsford said.

Froome was treated in an ambulance at the scene of the crash before being transferred to hospital.

He had started his campaign for his fifth victory in the tour, to be one of four cyclists to win the Tour De France.

The 34-year-old was crowned four times in Tour de France (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017), won Vuelta a España title in 2017 and clinched his first Giro d’Italia title in 2018, the first Brit to win the Italian road race.

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