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Pogacar rides to victory at COVID-defying Tour de France – Sportsnet.ca

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PARIS — In a stunning performance for the ages, Tour de France rookie Tadej Pogacar won cycling’s showpiece race Sunday on the eve of his 22nd birthday, becoming the second-youngest winner of the 117-year-old event that this year braved — and overcame — France’s worsening coronavirus epidemic.

Turning him from promising prodigy into cycling superstar, Pogacar became the youngest winner since World War II and the first from Slovenia.

His victory was remarkable, too, for the way in which he sealed it: at the last possible moment, on the penultimate stage before Sunday’s finish on Paris’ Champs-Elysees. During the three-week cycling marathon over all five of France’s mountain ranges and 3,482 punishing kilometres (2,164 miles), Pogacar held the race lead and its iconic yellow jersey for just one stage — the last and most important one into Paris, with a yellow bike to match.

Pogacar KO’d the race and Slovenian countryman Primoz Roglic by snatching away the yellow jersey that he’d worn for 11 days, in a high-drama time trial Saturday.

Their 1-2 is the first for one country since British riders Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome also took the top spots at the 2012 Tour. Australian Richie Porte rounded out this year’s podium, at age 35, after his brilliant time trial that hoisted him from fourth to third overall.

Irish rider Sam Bennett won the prestigious final sprint on the Champs-Elysees, giving him his second stage win at this Tour. He also won the race’s green jersey, awarded for picking up the most points in sprints during and at the finish of stages.

With jets trailing plumes of red, white and blue smoke above the riders as they raced on the Champs-Elysees, lined with French tricolour flags, the Tour was also celebrating a victory — over the coronavirus.

When the race, delayed because of the epidemic from its usual spot in July, left the start town of Nice three weeks ago, it was unsure that riders would be able to stay virus-free to the finish.

But none of the 176 riders who started, or the 146 finishers, tested positive in multiple batteries of tests, validating the bubble measures put in place by Tour organizers to shield them from infection.

Roadside fans still cheered them on, mostly respecting riders’ pleas that they wear face masks, but were kept well away at stage starts and finishes.

The only COVID-19 positives touched a handful of team employees and the race director, even as infection numbers soared across the country.

The director was back after a week of self-isolation and, in a mask, signalled the start of Sunday’s stage at Mantes-La-Jolie west of Paris with a wave of his flag through the sunroof of his car.

Mask-wearing spectators waiting for the rumble of the riders’ arrival on the handlebar-shaking cobbles of the Champs-Elysees said holding the Tour had lit up a dark year and demonstrated that the coronavirus need not bring all life to a grinding halt, if health measures are respected. The famous boulevard lacked its usual fervour, a victim of the virus, with the usually rows-deep crowds limited to a socially distanced maximum of 5,000 people, clumped in pens by police and barriers.

But Pauline Bourbonnaud, a 22-year-old podiatry student, said it was nothing short of “an exploit, enormous” that the Tour succeeded in keeping riders virus-free. At previous Tours, she’d been roadside when they zoomed through her region in central France. But this year’s postponement to September, when she was back in Paris for her studies, allowed her to soak in the finish for the first time.

“It’s important to have events like this that are diverting. People needed the Tour after a year like this,” she said.

One of the most enthusiastic backers of the pandemic-defying Tour was also its most powerful: French President Emmanuel Macron. With his government trying to revive France’s COVID-battered economy, Macron praised the race as “the pride of the country” and an example of how it must learn to live with the virus and the restrictions it imposes.

“Even in September, the Tour de France is magic!” Macron tweeted Saturday after Pogacar crushed Roglic in the time trial.

Largely deprived of racing as the epidemic tore across the globe, and with those in lockdown only able to keep fit on home trainers, riders arrived at the Tour somewhat race-rusty but with the pent-up energy of caged hounds, their disrupted seasons reconfigured to make them peak physically on cycling’s biggest stage.

After a slow-burn start, with multiple crashes, the racing became increasingly furious. Roglic, the winner of last year’s Spanish Vuelta and a pre-Tour favourite, was backed by a powerful Jumbo-Visma team of star riders devoted to putting him in yellow — achieved on Stage 9 — and then keeping the prized jersey until Paris.

But UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar hadn’t read their script.

He first demolished Roglic’s 57-second lead and then built his own Tour-securing margin of 59 seconds in the time trial, an incredible reversal of fortunes.

The birth of the Pogacar supernova is now set to ripple across the cycling galaxy for years to come. His future rivals are unlikely to repeat Jumbo-Visma’s mistake of allowing him to ride his way back into contention, as he did after losing time in crosswinds in the first week, when he slumped from third to 16th.

By conquering the Tour on his first attempt, Pogacar joined an elite club of rookie winners that includes, among others, the great Eddy Merckx, who ended up winning five. He unseated Egan Bernal, who was 22 when he won last year, as the Tour’s youngest champion since World War II. And he become the race’s second-youngest winner ever, behind only Henri Cornet, who was just shy of 20 when he was crowned in 1904.

The lone Canadian in the race, Hugo Houle, a support rider for the Astana Pro Team, finished 47th. The 29-year-old from Sainte-Perpetue, Que., finished 91st in last year’s Tour.

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FOLLOW LIVE: Dodgers blowing out Rays in Game 1 – TSN

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It all comes down to this. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays are just four wins away from a championship as they meet in Game 1 of the World Series. Clayton Kershaw makes his fifth World Series start, while Tyler Glasnow makes his Fall Classic debut. Keep up with the action all game long with TSN.ca’s Game 1 live blog.

Rays – 3

Dodgers – 8

Final


11:14pm – Pedro Baez enters the game for the Dodgers in the eighth inning and gets a 1-2-3 inning of his own. Dodgers lead 8-3 going into the bottom of the eighth.  

11:04pm – Josh Fleming gives the Rays exactly what they need with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the seventh to hold the Dodgers at eight runs and Tampa Bay remains fives runs back with two innings to play.

10:58pm – Mike Zunino fires a 105.6 mph line drive right up the middle of the field, but Gonzalez snags it and turns to double off Brosseau at second base and escape the jam.

10:54pm – Kevin Kiermaier follows up the Brosseau single with a single of his own to score Wendle from third, the Rays now trail by five.

10:52pm – Brosseau singles on a 3-2 slider to cut the Dodgers lead to six.

10:49pm – More gamesmanship from the Rays, as Mike Brosseau will now hit for Choi.

10:46pm – Joey Wendle doubles to give the Rays a runner of second and third with one out. Ji-Man Choi enters the game to pinch hit with the Rays down seven, and the Dodgers counter with brining in lefty Victor Gonzalez.

10:40pm – Dylan Floro takes the mound for the Dodgers to start the seventh inning, meaning Clayton Kershaw‘s night is over. Kershaw finishes the night with eight strikeouts and gives up just one run on two hits.

10:32pm – Justin Turner and Max Muncy hit back-to-back doubles to extend the Dodgers lead to 8-1.

10:30pm – MOOKIE NUKE – In the fifth Mookie Betts did it with his legs, in the sixth he leads off the inning with a home run to right field.

10:26pm – The long wait between innings means nothing for Kershaw as he comes out for the sixth inning and needs just nine pitches to retire the Rays in order.

10:18pm – Los Angeles adds two more runs before Austin Barnes flies out to end the inning. The Dodgers score four in the fifth to extend their lead to five runs.

10:07pm – DODGERS CHASE GLASNOW – Will Smith singles in another run and Tyler Glasnow‘s night has come to an end. He leaves with one out in the fifth, two runners on base and trailing 4-1.

10:00pm  – MOOKIE MAGIC – Mookie Betts walks to lead off the fifth inning, steals second and third and scores from third on a ground ball hit to the first baseman. The Dodgers regain their two-run and now are up 3-1.

9:43pm – KIERMAIER GOES DEEP – Kevin Kiermaier cuts the Dodgers lead in half with a home run to right field.

9:38pm – Glasnow walked the next batter following the Bellinger home run, but limits the damage by striking out the final two batters of the inning. The Dodgers lead 2-0 heading to the fifth inning.

9:25pm – BELLI BOMB – Cody Bellinger opens the scoring with a two-run home run to right field. It’s his second in two games.

9:18pm – Another three up-three down inning for Kershaw. He now has six strikeouts after four innings and has not given up a hit since the leadoff single to start the game.

9:09pm – GLASNOW ANSWERS – Tyler Glasnow gives up a walk to Corey Seager but strikes out the side. The 26-year-old now has five strikeouts after three innings.

8:57pm – KERSHAW CRUISING- Clayton Kershaw has retired eight-straight Rays players and picks up his third and fourth strikeouts. The 32-year-old has given up just two base runners through three innings.

8:51pm – Glasnow gives up his first hit of the night, but nothing more and we’re headed to the third inning tied 0-0.

8:40pm – ABC, easy as an 1-2-3 inning for Kershaw. The southpaw needed just 11 pitches to get through his second inning of work.

8:34pm – Glasnow gives up a walk to Corey Seager and nothing more. Off to the second inning we go.

8:26pm – Just like his Kershaw, Glasnow opens his night with a first-pitch fastball for a strike.

8:23pm – Díaz leads off the game with a single and Randy Arozarena reaches on a walk, but the Rays fail to capitalize and we’re headed to the bottom of the first tied 0-0.

8:11pm – We are underway, Clayton Kershaw fires a first pitch strike to Yandy Díaz to begin the World Series.

*All times EST*


Over his six World Series appearances, Kershaw is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 26.2 innings. The southpaw has made three starts in the 2020 playoffs, picking up wins over the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. But he struggled in his only start of the NLCS, giving up four runs in five innings to the Atlanta Braves, getting tagged with the loss.

Glasnow, 26, starts the first World Series game for the Rays since 2008. Like his counterpart, Glasnow picked up a win in the opening two rounds of the playoffs, shutting down the Toronto Blue Jays, and holding the New York Yankees to four runs through 7.1 innings. The righty was tagged with the loss in his only ALCS start when he tossed six innings, giving up eight hits and four earned runs.

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Behind Ilya Mikheyev’s last-minute RFA contract with Maple Leafs – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO – Fewer than 24 hours before Wednesday’s scheduled arbitration case, restricted free agent Ilya Mikheyev and the Toronto Maple Leafs found common ground Tuesday night — although it did mean a last-minute financial concession on the player’s part.

The Russian winger and the club agreed to a two-year contract worth an average annual value of $1.645 million that will see Mikheyev in blue and white through the 2021-22 season and walk him to unrestricted free agency at age 27.

“Ilya decided to step off a little bit from an already agreed number to help the team fit under the cap,” Mikheyev’s agent, Dan Milstein, told Sportsnet after tweeting news of the signing.

“For Ilya, it was less about the money, but more about the role in the organization. He wishes to win the Stanley Cup. It’s been a lifelong dream.”

Mikheyev’s two-year pact carries a $1.1 million salary in 2020-21 and $2.19 million in 2021-22.

According to Milstein, the sides had initially agreed to a cap hit slightly higher than $1.645 million.

The agent was on the phone explaining the bridge deal’s terms to Mikheyev when the Maple Leafs quickly called back requesting the forward take slightly less so they could be cap compliant for 2021’s opening night.

The Leafs and Mikheyev discussed the sophomore’s position in a winger-loaded roster “extensively” during the negotiations, which had been ongoing for weeks.

“We know what they have going. We know what the goals are. Toronto and both camps communicated very clearly,” Milstein said. “We feel very comfortable about the next season, and Ilya is very excited about the next season as well.”

The 26-year-old Mikheyev — fast a fan favourite — appeared in only 39 games as a rookie with the Maple Leafs in 2019-20, scoring eight goals and adding 15 assists.

Returning for post-season action after suffering a gruesome wrist injury in late December, Mikheyev failed to register a point during the club’s five-game playoff qualification series versus Columbus.

“He would’ve liked to help the team get past Columbus, but overall this was a good first-year experience for him,” Milstein said. “He’s adjusted. He’s adapted. And I expect him to have a better season next year.”

He elected to file for salary arbitration to buy time, and a deadline, for amicable negotiations.

Mikheyev filed for one year at $2.7 million; the Leafs requested two years at $1 million.

But, Milstein maintains, the strongest efforts on both sides have long been directed at striking a two-year pact that worked to provide Mikheyev and his family a little more certainty in uncertain times.

The player affectionately known as “Mickey” to his teammates and “Souperman” to fans stayed up to the wee hours in Russia, where he’s training, in order to sign the paperwork.

“The first season didn’t go as well as planned, due to the injury, but it was never a question of whether he was coming back or not,” Milstein said. “He stayed up through the night, and we took care of business.”

Milstein has a tight working relationship with general manager Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs.

The agent is quick to note that 12 of his players have been welcomed into the Toronto system over the past three years, including winger Egor Korshkov (currently on loan to Yaroslav Lokomotiv of the KHL), 2020 first-round pick Rodion Amirov and new KHL import Alexander Barabanov.

“While we were negotiating (Mikheyev’s contract) and perhaps disagreeing a little bit, I had to stop and talk to (the Leafs) about another player,” Milstein said. “We try to have good relationships with everybody, but a client comes first.”

Barabanov, 26, will join Mikheyev in trying to secure ice time from coach Sheldon Keefe in a competitive forward group that has added Wayne Simmonds, Joe Thornton, Jimmy Vesey, Joey Anderson and Travis Boyd to the mix since free agency opened.

Barabanov flew to Toronto in early September and is preparing for his first North American campaign on this side of the pond.

Make no mistake: Like Mikheyev before him, Barabanov has his sights in the NHL, not the AHL.

“I feel good about his prospects. He’s a world-class player,” Milstein said. “I’m not a coach. I’m not going to make any predictions. But I feel good about it. You can quote me on that. I feel good about it. Barabanov is an Olympic champion.

“He is a phenomenal player, and I expect him to do well here in North America.”

With Mikheyev signed, the Maple Leafs only need to reach agreements with RFAs Travis Dermott and Anderson.

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Toronto Maple Leafs sign winger Ilya Mikheyev to two-year deal

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TORONTO — The Maple Leafs have avoided an arbitration hearing on Wednesday with restricted free agent winger Ilya Mikheyev, settling instead on a two-year, $3.29 million contract extension Tuesday night.

Mikheyev had exercised his right for an arbitration hearing earlier this month after the Leafs extended a qualifying offer to the pending RFA but then failed to find common ground with his camp on a new extension. The 26-year-old had been looking for a one-year, $2.7 million deal from Toronto, while the Leafs initially countered with a two-year contract, averaging $1 million per season.

According to CapFriendly, the Leafs are now exceeding the NHL’s flat salary cap of $81.5 million, with RFA Travis Dermott still left to be signed. General manager Kyle Dubas said in a conference call on Sunday he was waiting for Mikheyev’s deal to be done before turning the team’s attention to Dermott. Toronto can be 10 per cent over the cap until the 2020-21 regular season begins, at a date still to be determined.

Mikheyev’s case was an especially interesting one to consider from both sides, given how the forward’s promising rookie season was cut short by a gruesome injury.

Never originally drafted by an NHL club, Mikheyev’s stock built slowly over four seasons in his native Russia with the KHL’s Omsk Avangard. By the end of his career-best 45-point campaign in 2018-19, several NHL clubs were making offers, but it was the Leafs who landed Mikheyev in May 2019 on a one-year, entry-level contract.

Starting out in a third-line role for the 2019-20 season, Mikheyev scored in his NHL debut, and put up seven points in his first 10 games. He continued to show versatility from there, able to play on either wing and hold his own in the top-six when necessary.

Mikheyev had amassed eight goals and 23 points in his first 39 games when his freshman year took a brutal turn. Facing the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 27, he suffered ligament damage when Jesper Bratt’s skate blade accidentally cut into his right wrist. The injury required surgery to repair and Mikheyev was not able to return before the NHL hit pause in March amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

He was back to full health for Toronto’s qualifying-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets in early August, but Mikheyev was ineffective and failed to register a single point through those five games, as the Leafs fell three games to two.

Despite that poor showing, Mikheyev’s speed, hockey sense and hard shot make him a valuable addition to the Leafs’ offence going forward and he projects to play in the top-six again next season.

Source:- TSN

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