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Hugo Houle dedicates Tour de France stage win to his late brother – Cyclingnews

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Every day is different, and some days are special, and yet one element of every day is the same. A little under ten years ago, Hugo Houle lost his brother Pierrick in a hit-and-run incident in their native village of Sainte-Perpétue, midway between Montreal and Quebec. Grief has been a companion in all the days since then.

It was, inevitably, with Houle on his day of greatest celebration on Tuesday afternoon, as he soloed to victory in Foix on stage 16 of the Tour de France. It was his first victory as a professional, it was Canada’s first stage win in this race since Steve Bauer in 1988, and it was dedicated to Pierrick’s memory.

“He was two years younger than me, and he was my biggest fan,” Houle said. “When I finished fourth in the under-23 Worlds in 2012, he sent me a video to congratulate me. After the day I lost him, there was nobody to share things like that with. There was a gap. Of course, when things like this happen in life, it takes a few months to move on and to move forward.”

Pierrick Houle, like his brother, had been a triathlete as a teenager, and they had competed against one another as siblings do. At 19 years of age, Pierrick went out for a run one evening and he never came back, hit by a car that fled the scene. As well as the grief of that loss, Hugo Houle endured the profound trauma of searching for his brother with his family on that December evening.

“The guy ran away and left him on the side of the road. Me and my family had to search for my brother. I found him about three hours later, dead,” Houle said. “When I came to the scene, they were doing cardiac massage. I took his hand and I saw the blood go from his ear and his mouth and I knew he was dead.”

A few weeks later, Houle was on a flight to France, to begin his WorldTour career at AG2R La Mondiale. For those first months as a professional, he was present in body rather than in spirit and it showed in his results. Another team, perhaps, might have ushered him towards the exit, but Vincent Lavenu has always prided himself on being something of a paterfamilias. Houle was given time to find his way again, first as a grieving young man and then as an emerging cyclist.

 “I remember I was in Paris-Roubaix, and I just didn’t know what I was doing because I was pretty shocked from this event. It took me a full year to get back to normal,” Houle said. “This team was unbelievable, they took care of me. I was a young professional, and they could just have said, ‘Next.’ It took a few years to get back to a good level, but they gave me a lot of time to recover from that. Now I am where I am because they gave me time to recover from my brother’s death.”

Bauer and the Canadian connection

Houle spent five years with AG2R and then four with Astana, gradually eking out a place for himself in the WorldTour peloton. At the end of last season, he joined the Premier Tech exodus from Astana, moving with the Canadian sponsor to Israel Premier Tech. The owner of Houle’s new team, Sylvan Adams, is a Montreal native. Canada’s greatest ever cyclist Steve Bauer is his directeur sportif and the country’s current leading light, Michael Woods, is a teammate.

Houle had Woods for company in the break of the day on Tuesday, and his compatriot would place third on the stage to complete a remarkable afternoon for Canadian cycling. When Houle launched his winning move ahead of the final haul up the Mur de Péguère, Woods policed the break as it splintered behind, tracking Matteo Jorgensen over the summit. A crash for Jorgensen ended any faint prospect of Houle being caught, and the Quebec native had Bauer, winner in Machecoul in 1988, in his radio earpiece to reassure him through the final kilometres.

“It’s been a year since I’ve seen my parents, my family, because I have to be in Europe to race, and to win a stage in the Tour is what motivated me,” Houle said. 

“I’m happy I can win for the Canadians and I’m also happy I had Steve Bauer behind me in the car. He was on the radio telling us: ‘Enjoy boys, enjoy.’ I was still going full gas and he said, ‘You’ve got this, take it easy, man.’ It was nice to have the time to enjoy it. I just hope it won’t take 34 years for another Canadian to win on the Tour.”

Houle crested the Mur de Péguère alone at the head of the race, but not without company. On the drop into Foix, his brother Pierrick’s memory travelled with him. In that sense, at least, it was a day like any other. “That was my motivation, to win for my little brother,” Houle said. “And today I did.”

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Thousands of tickets still available for world junior hockey tournament in Edmonton – CBC Sports

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Odd summer timing and an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada could be the reason thousands of tickets to the world junior championship are still available on the eve of the tournament, says an Edmonton professor.

Prof. Dan Mason, who teaches in the faculty of kinesiology, sport, and recreation at the University of Alberta, said when Canada hosts, there are usually so many fans who want to see the home team take the ice that they are willing to buy Hockey Canada’s packaged games that include teams that are not Canadian.

“So Latvia vs. Slovakia, for example, those games will be sold out as well because in order to get the tickets to watch Canada play, you have to buy a package that includes some of the other games,” he said on Friday.

“The fact that there are still Team Canada tickets available, that tells you the demand is much lower than it usually is for this kind of event.”

WATCH l World junior tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy:

World junior hockey tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy

7 hours ago

Duration 2:07

Ticket sales for the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton are below expectations as the tournament kicks of this week in the shadow of an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada.

The tournament runs from Aug. 9-20 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The initial 2022 championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., was called off Dec. 29 after just four days because of rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials, which forced game forfeitures.

The 10-country tournament will be minus Russia, barred from participating by the International Ice Hockey Federation because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Holiday tradition

Around 1,500 tickets are still available for purchase on Ticketmaster to the first game between Czech Republic and Slovakia on Tuesday. About 1,300 tickets are available for the next day when Canada takes on Latvia. About 1,500 seats for the final game are also available with hundreds of other tickets to watch the 11-day tournament.

This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake … or do something summer-related.— Edmonton professor Dan Mason on poor ticket sales for an August world juniors

Mason said the timing of the games could be why interest is so low. The tournament typically runs over the Christmas holidays.

“Over the past 30 years or so, TSN has built the world juniors into this holiday event that people partake in,” he said.

“I watch it with my family over the [Christmas] break though so it’s kind of become part of our holiday tradition.

“This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake, go to the mountains or do something summer-related. I don’t think we’re willing to give up those plans to watch hockey.”

Many people could also be waiting for a former judge on the Supreme Court of Canada to begin independently reviewing Hockey Canada’s governance amid calls for a change of leadership.

The review comes after members of the 2018 world junior team were accused of a group sexual assault after a gala event, and after Hockey Canada reached a settlement.

“I think there’s people who weren’t sure if they would go or not, and maybe deciding not to go because of that,” Mason said.

The CEO of Explore Edmonton, which promotes tourism in the Alberta capital, said in an email the marketing organization paused its promotion of the games in response to the allegations.

“As the host city for the upcoming tournament, we continue to have discussions with Hockey Canada officials about their plans to address the need for change,” said Traci Bednard.

Mason said inflation and less disposable income could be other factors working against the tournament.

“Canada may be more focused on that player development piece than trying to sort of make money off of a tournament being held in the summer,” he said.

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Nets owner Tsai backs coach, GM amid reported Durant standoff – theScore

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Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai has pledged his support of the coaching staff and front office after Kevin Durant reportedly demanded that the team trade him or fire head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks

Tsai took to Twitter on Monday, saying, “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

Durant’s ultimatum is apparently a result of his lack of faith in the team’s direction, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported earlier Monday. The 33-year-old is firm in his stance, Charania adds.

The former MVP requested a trade at the end of June following a disappointing season that ended in a first-round exit. Little was known at the time about his reasons for the decision.

The Nets have reportedly had discussions with nearly every team in the league in hopes of getting a historic package of players and draft picks in return for Durant. Brooklyn reportedly proposed a trade with the Toronto Raptors involving Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes and talked about a deal with the Boston Celtics that would include star Jaylen Brown.

The Raptors, Celtics, and Miami Heat are seen as the most likely trade destinations for Durant, sources told Charania.

The Nets aim to take “every last asset” from their trade partner in any deal for Durant, according to Charania.

Nash, a Hall of Fame point guard, has been at the helm of the Nets for two seasons. It is his first job in professional coaching. Meanwhile, Marks has held the position of general manager since 2016 after being an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs.

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Watch live for free: Leylah Fernandez vs. Storm Sanders at National Bank Open – Sportsnet.ca

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Update: This stream has ended.

Canadian Leylah Fernandez begins her quest for her first National Bank Open title against qualifier Storm Sanders of Australia, under the lights in Toronto.

Fernandez, still only 19, is returning to action for the first time since suffering a fracture in her foot during the quarterfinals of the French Open on May 31.

The Laval native is the top-ranked Canadian on the WTA Tour after a headline-making run to the U.S. Open final last year.

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