Group Info

going to make him a better player and its okay to struggle.”

PLA DADET, France -- On the last of four Pyrenees ascents, Rafal Majka winked at a French TV camera and tugged playfully at a motorcycles antenna. Kris Dunn Jersey . Even this late in the Tour de France, the Polish rider made winning look easy as he took Stage 17 on Wednesday. For Vincenzo Nibali, the second ride in the mountains on Frances border with Spain was more serious. "The Shark" nibbled yet more seconds away from several of his closest challengers, and the yellow jersey that he has worn for all but two days of the race seemed to fit just a little more tightly ahead of the finish Sunday in Paris. Nibali was even businesslike with his own prime minister, imploring him not to get too ahead of himself in celebration. "Its true that I received a text message from Matteo Renzi, who invited me to Chigi Palace to celebrate my victory," the cautious Sicilian said about the premiers official residence. "I replied that only after winning -- if I do so -- Ill be able to say that Ill be present." The 124.5-kilometre (77-mile) trek Wednesday was the shortest stage in this years Tour. It covered three hard Category 1 ascents from Saint-Gaudens and a final push up to Pla dAdet ski station above the town of Saint-Lary-Soulan. Majka, who also won Stage 14 in the Alps, again showed hes the best climber in this Tour and tightened his grip on the polka dot jersey awarded to the races King of the Mountains. Giovanni Visconti got the action going on the last climb with a solo breakaway with about nine kilometres (5 1/2 miles) left, but could not hold off Majka. Visconti, who also is Sicilian, was second, 29 seconds back, and Nibali was third, 46 seconds behind. With a last Pyrenean day ahead Thursday, Majka could ensure that he takes the red-dot jersey home. His closest rival for it when the stage started was Spains Joaquim Rodriguez, who swatted the air in frustration at Majka when the Pole broke away on the last climb. Majka said he felt "comfort" in the last five kilometres in part because hed been saving up energy a day earlier by riding easier. He finished in a bunch 24 1/2 minutes behind Australian teammate Michael Rogers, who won Stage 16. By Wednesday, "I felt really, really good in the last climb," Majka said, after tapping his chest, thrusting his arms skyward and shouting in joy at the victory. "For me, when there are a lot of climbs, its the best." There was a time when seemingly effortless victories smacked of something more sinister at the Tour: the use of performance-enhancers. Few know the scars of cyclings doping past more than Majkas own manager at the Tinkoff-Saxo Bank team, Bjarne Riis. Once a national hero in Denmark after winning the 1996 Tour, he admitted to using blood-booster EPO more than a decade later -- and was vilified for it. He laid low for a while, but then returned to the pro cycling world. "I promised Bjarne today that I would win the stage," said Majka. The echoes of doping resonated Wednesday on the grassy Pyrenean mountainside: The last times that Saint-Lary-Soulan hosted Tour stage finishes were in 2001 and 2005 -- won by Lance Armstrong and teammate George Hincapie. Those wins were later stripped because of doping. Their names have been crossed out in the official Tour history book. Cycling has made great strides in fighting doping with enhanced blood and urine testing, along with the biological passport program, but few experts would claim that the peloton today is entirely clean. Nibali, who has called himself a "flag-bearer of anti-doping", made his latest case to become the first Italian to win cyclings showcase race in 16 years -- since Marco Pantani, who was once convicted for doping. Nibali gained just under a minute on four of his closest rivals. Second-placed Alejandro Valverde of Spain, who made a valiant recovery on the last ascent to avoid even more damage, now trails by 5 minute, 26 seconds. The exception was Jean-Christophe Peraud of France, who hugged closely on the leaders back wheel and finished fourth. With his performance, the 37-year-old Frenchman made it an even closer race for the podium spots. He is fourth overall, 6:08 behind Nibali, but just eight seconds slower than fellow Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, in third. American Tejay van Garderen, in sixth, also lost about a minute to Nibali and trails by 10:19. It came a day after his hopes for a podium spot were dealt a big blow when he lost several minutes to the other aspirants for a top-three finish in Paris. "Yesterday was a pity, it was an off day," the BMC leader said. A podium spot is still possible, he added, "but it will be hard." Stage 18s finale in the Pyrenees takes the pack on a 145.5-kilometre (90-mile) loop from Pau to Hautacam, featuring two ascents that are so hard that they defy cyclings ranking system -- one of them an uphill finish. Then its a flat stage heading northward Friday before an individual time-trial a day later, and then whats likely to be the largely ceremonial ride for the yellow jersey in Stage 21 on Sunday to the Champs-Elysees in Paris for the finish of the races 101st edition. While well-positioned to be in yellow then, Nibali was still attacking Wednesday. "I preferred to go and gain a few more seconds and to be even more serene, just in case something could happen," he said. John Paxson Jersey . New Zealand brushed aside England 26-7 to win the event and reclaim top spot in the overall standings. The All Blacks, the defending World Series champions, won their third tournament this season in style, running four tries past England to claim their 11th Cup championship in Hong Kong and first since 2011. Custom Chicago Bulls Jerseys . -- Fantasy football owners and Denver Broncos fans can rest easy: Peyton Manning is back.Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins told media on Wednesday that the team had no intentions of trading struggling forward Nail Yakupov. "All of whats out there is 100 per cent untrue," the first-year coach told reporters outside of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the Oilers - last in the Western Conference - play the Lightning on Thursday night. Eakins felt it necessary to personally inform the second-year player that rumours he might be hearing about his impending move from the Alberta capital hold no weight. “Nail Yakupov is not being shopped," said Eakins. "Hes not going anywhere and I wanted him to hear that from me and look me in my eyes and let him know that, hey, were attached at the hip. Were going to make him a better player and its okay to struggle.” In 14 games this seasson, Yakupov, the first-overall pick in the 2012 draft, has just one goal, after posting 17 in last years shortened season. Jerian Grant Jersey. In Tuesdays overtime win against the Florida Panthers, the Russian played a scant three minutes in the thrid period and overtime. Still, Eakins looks to past players who had high expections thrust upon them and didnt live up to them early on. “Guys like Joe Thornton, the kid, here, [Steven] Stamkos," said Eakins, whose Oilers are 4-10-2. "Those guys struggled early in their careers and boy, they turned out to be pretty good players. Hes 20-years old and were not just going to give up on a guy because hes going through a rough stretch." After Thursday nights game in Tampa Bay, the Oilers head to Philadelphia on Saturday to take on the equally flagging Flyers. Wholesale Jerseys From China Cheap NFL HoodiesStitched Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap Wholesale Throwback Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale Throwback Jerseys ' ' '

Users

Newsfeed