Roglic glimpses Tour de France triumph from Alpine peaks

Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic, in the leader’s yellow jersey, takes second position on Stage 17 of the Tour de France over 107 kms from Grenoble to Meribel Col de la Loze, Wed., Sept. 16, 2020. (AP Photo)
Short Url
Updated 16 September 2020

Roglic glimpses Tour de France triumph from Alpine peaks

  • With the Slovenian pair Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar playing cat and mouse for the overall leader’s yellow jersey, the cagey Miguel Angel Lopez grabbed Wednesday’s 17th stage
  • The Slovenians have been the story of the Tour and will likely square off for the overall win on stage 20’s mouthwatering individual time trial

MÉRIBEL, France: Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic once more prevailed on his toughest test yet to remain on course for Tour de France glory, while Miguel Angel Lopez soloed to a breathtaking stage win atop the highest mountain of the race.
With the Slovenian pair Roglic and Tadej Pogacar playing cat and mouse for the overall leader’s yellow jersey, the cagey Lopez grabbed Wednesday’s 17th stage by the throat with a surging burst for the line that also allowed Roglic to leave behind his 21-year-old rival.
Lopez’s win at high altitude gave Colombia something to celebrate on the day 2019 champion Egan Bernal pulled out after he and his team Ineos failed to live up to expectations.
With two massive mountains the queen stage ascended to 2,304m altitude atop the Col de la Loze, where Tour rookie Pogacar lost just a handful of seconds to Roglic in their ongoing war of attrition.
Pogacar has however been racing virtually alone, and won plaudits challenging Roglic, who has appeared rock-steady with a powerful climb posse surrounding him in Jumbo’s black and yellow outfits.
The Slovenians have been the story of the Tour and will likely square off for the overall win on stage 20’s mouthwatering individual time trial.
As Lopez pulled away team Jumbo leader Roglic also showed too much power for Pogacar on the last agonizing kilometer.
“That was hell,” said the former ski jumper Roglic.
“I’m glad this is behind me,” he added, merely needing to survive without a major incident to win this year’s Tour.
“Every meter counts on a climb like that.”
Shorn of Bernal Ineos co-captain Richard Carapaz produced a doomed solo bid as the Giro champion was caught on the ever-changing gradient of the final 7km above 2,000m as the top 10 experienced a slight shake-up.
A day after the race was cleared of Covid-19 to run all the way to Paris on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron was present as the peloton struggled through villages full of ubiquitous baskets of flowers hanging from Swiss-style ski chalets.
In the rarefied air that suits the men from the Andes, the 26-year-old Lopez leapfrogged compatriot Rigoberto Uran and extended his lead over Adam Yates and Richie Porte.
Roglic now leads his young compatriot Pogacar by 57 seconds with just three real races left before the Tour gets to Paris.
Suffering from a bad back for a month now Bernal, his Tour defense in tatters, said a sad goodbye to the 2020 edition when Ineos decided to protect the long-term interests of their 23-year-old captain by withdrawing him.
But his compatriot Astana captain Lopez, who is known as “Superman” in his homeland after fighting off three thieves who tried to steal his bike, gave Colombia something to shout about.
Lopez had complained earlier in the race that Jumbo’s dominance was suffocating the race, but saw his opportunity on a mentally challenging finale where the varying gradient called for constant adaptations.
“I felt strong coming into the race and on the Grand Colombier, which was the first big one (climb) of the race, like the ones I train on in Colombia, I felt good,” Lopez said.
“I won many things in my life, but this is impressive and I worked so hard to get here,” said the man who has previously finished on the podium at both the Giro and the Vuelta.
The long hard 14km struggle up the Col de la Madeleine to its 2,000m summit was at the halfway point of the race.
Lopez made the difference on the even higher Meribel mountain with a sudden turn of pace while Roglic and Pogacar were watching each other.
“I felt at home over 2,000m, as I live at 2,500m above sea level,” he explained. “But I won’t win, the others ahead of me are too good on time trials. I’m just going to enjoy myself.”
The key remaining challenge is stage 20, the 36km individual time trial that runs over 30km of rolling terrain before tough 6km ascent up the fabled Planche des Belles Filles on Saturday.
The final day on Sunday is a kind of parade, except for the concluding eight laps of the Champs-Elysees, where Ireland’s Sam Bennett will face a stern challenge for the green sprint jersey from seven-time winner Peter Sagan on a last-gasp dash for the line.


Liverpool’s Mane sinks 10-man Chelsea, Son hits four in Spurs rout

Updated 20 September 2020

Liverpool’s Mane sinks 10-man Chelsea, Son hits four in Spurs rout

  • Sadio Mane scored twice as Liverpool exploited Chelsea’s frailties to win 2-0
  • Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen was sent off at the end of the first half for hauling down Mane

LONDON: Sadio Mane tormented Chelsea as the Liverpool forward struck twice after sparking Andreas Christensen’s dismissal in the champions’ 2-0 win, while Son Heung-min scored four as Tottenham crushed Southampton 5-2 on Sunday.
Mane was involved in the turning point at Stamford Bridge as the first clash between Premier League title contenders this season swung Liverpool’s way.
In first half stoppage-time, Jordan Henderson picked out Mane’s run behind Christensen and the Denmark defender responded by rugby-tackling the Senegal star to the ground.
Referee Paul Tierney initially booked Christensen, but VAR told him to consult the pitchside monitor and he changed his decision to a red card.
Mane grabbed his first goal of the season in the 50th minute as he met Roberto Firmino’s cross with a thumping header after eluding Reece James’ slack marking.
Mane was gifted his second goal as Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga made a hash of trying to play out from the back, allowing the Liverpool forward to intercept and slot into the empty net.
It was the latest costly blunder from Kepa, who was dropped twice by Chelsea manager Frank Lampard last season despite his status as the world’s most expensive keeper.
Lampard will be relieved that Chelsea are reportedly close to signing Rennes’ Senegal international Edouard Mendy as he looks to replace Kepa.
“It was a clear mistake and Kepa accepted that,” Lampard said.
Thiago Alcantara made his Liverpool debut at half-time after his move from Bayern Munich, but the Spain midfielder conceded a 74th minute penalty with a foul on Timo Werner.
Alisson Becker came to Thiago’s rescue as he saved Jorginho’s spot-kick.
After their chaotic 4-3 win over Leeds on the opening weekend, this was a return to the kind of dominant display Liverpool produced so often en route to their first English title for 30 years last season.
“Chelsea were the dominant side without goals but then a massive game-changer which was good for us,” Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said.
“After the red card, the second half is a different game. We kept the ball rolling, let them run, scored the goals. Everybody had a hand in the result.”
While Chelsea have spent £200 million ($258 million) on new signings in a bid to close the gap on the champions, Liverpool remain streets ahead of the Blues at present.
“The red card changes the face of the game. I think it could be given or not,” Lampard said.
At St. Mary’s, Jose Mourinho hailed Son and Harry Kane after the pair destroyed Southampton.
Just 24 hours after Tottenham signed Gareth Bale, Son delivered a virtuoso display that showed Mourinho’s side already have plenty of firepower.
Bale has returned to Tottenham on a season-long loan from Real Madrid seven years after he left the north London club.
Danny Ings put Southampton ahead in the first half, but Son equalized before the break and scored three more in the second half, with each of his goals coming from Kane assists.
Kane, who hit the back of the net twice in the first half only to have them ruled out for offside, capped a swaggering display with his second goal of the season.
“Son was on fire and for me Harry Kane was the man of the match, what he did for the team,” said Mourinho, whose side had lost their league opener against Everton.
“With him dropping back and connecting the game between the lines for Sonny to attack, the space they created was a problem they couldn’t resolve.”
Neal Maupay’s quick-fire double inspired Brighton’s 3-0 win against Newcastle as the Seagulls claimed their first Premier League victory of the season.
Graham Potter’s side raced into a two-goal lead after just seven minutes at St. James’ Park thanks to the brace from French striker Maupay.
Aaron Connolly grabbed the third for Brighton, who had Yves Bissouma sent off after his raised boot caught Jamal Lewis in the face.