SISTERON, France (VN) — Navigating the Tour de France is never easy. But after all these years, you’d think we’d have it figured out.
Monday’s third stage was a preview of what the 2020 Tour de France will be throwing at us in this COVID-19 edition. Road blocks, both literally and figuratively, were impeding our frantic daily start-to-finish quest that typically chews up a large part of any hack’s day on the Tour.
It started off badly enough, getting lost driving out of the nest of alleyways in Nice’s Vieux-Port. Then came a comical arrival at the Nice football stadium, where ASO underlings had journalists lost in a maze of stairwells, fencing, barriers, security checks, hand-sanitizing stations, and finger-wagging security guards. The morning’s refrain? You can’t there from here.
Almost as soon as we finally “got there,” we heard the pre-stage bell — kind of a like a bell lap in a critérium race — except instead of racing for primes, you need to move your butt. Then came a panic moment of trying to find the car in the dungeon-like underground parking garage in the bowels of the soccer stadium (remember, kids, to always take note of the parking spot if they’re numbered).
Once out on the racecourse — whew! — things returned to normal. Fans lined the road, the villages above Nice glittered in the late-summer sun. We stopped in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, chatted with some fans, hit a boulangerie, snapped some shots, and watched the peloton roll past. It almost seemed like the Tour de France, except everyone was wearing face masks.
We tucked in behind the broom wagon just as the heavens opened up. With heightened security and health measures, police were telling us there was no way we could jump off course. And without limited-access press credentials, there was no way we can pass the peloton.
We were stuck behind the peloton, the absolute worst place to be in a bike race.
In simpler times — before world pandemics and terrorist attacks — photographers and scribes could leap-frog ahead of the course each stage, using back roads and a keen sense of direction to catch the peloton two to three times, and still arrive for the finish in time for a tidy sprint.
Not anymore. We snapped our photographs early, in the opening 25km, but it was still down to the wire for us to arrive in Sisteron.
After some creative cajoling and pleading with a local police officer got us through the barriers, we plunged back down to the Riviera, just in time for what turned out to be two big “bouchons” — a special kind of French traffic jam — on the main toll road.
Luckily for us, the peloton was on slow-go mode, and we arrived in Sisteron some 30 minutes before the pack. Tout va bien.
A Tour like no other
The above line has been the refrain so far of the 2020 Tour. Exceptional conditions require exceptional measures.
Everyone will see that play out in Tuesday’s first mountaintop finale. According to Tour race director Thierry Gouvenou, cars and campers will not be allowed on 27 summits and climbs throughout this year’s edition.
That will mean the climbs in this year’s Tour could be all but denuded of some of the most colorful and dynamic aspects of what makes the Tour so unique in the world of sport.
Cycling fans’ ability to get so close to their sporting heroes — too close in some cases — is an essential part of the Tour’s story. With the coronavirus threatening the Tour, race organizers felt like they had no other option.
The last thing anyone wants is that the Tour becomes a spreader event of COVID-19, and the rationale is if there are fewer people on the usually packed summits, the lower the risk.
Insiders tell us that it’s been a gut-wrenching decision for ASO to cut off access to fans on the Tour’s most famous climbs. Fans are the lifeblood of a sport that does not charge admission and does not have stadium seating.
It’s important to point out the climbs are not off-limits entirely — fans can still go up by foot or on bikes.
Cheering on the peloton’s stars will simply require some more sweat energy this year.
Time to plug in that e-bike.
Tuesday’s stage to thin the herd
I’m quite looking forward to Tuesday’s 160km fourth stage to Orcières-Merlette in the southern French Alps. Why? Because I have no idea what will happen.
The final climb isn’t that hard by WorldTour standards — 7.1km at 6.7 percent — but the fact that it comes so early in this Tour in a truncated season where everyone’s form is all over the map, well, how can we predict what will happen?
One thing that will happen is that a few GC hopes will be torpedoed. We’ve already seen a couple of big names cede time. Tuesday should see a few more.
It’s the classic “you-can’t-win-the-Tour-but-you-can-lose-it” kind of climb.
I expect a few things: first, Jumbo-Visma will try to bludgeon Ineos Grenadiers again. The Dutch team is coming strong out of the gate, so let’s see if they keep piling on the pressure. This Tour is so long and hard, however, I wonder if that could backfire later in the race. Egan Bernal has played it cool so far, so I expect Ineos’s DS’s to keep whispering in his ear not to rise to the bait.
I also fully hope to see Tadej Pogačar to go on a flier. He’s only 17 seconds out of the yellow jersey, and he’s only 21 years old — of course he will attack! I just hope UAE-Emirates doesn’t try to hold him back. Youth exuberance only lasts so long. If he has the legs, let him run.
My pick: Pogačar for the win, and Julian Alaphilippe defends yellow by a whisker.
Scanning the Wire: Finding help after injuries took their toll in Week 2 – TSN
Congratulations if you managed to survive Week 2 of the fantasy football season without losing one of your star players to injury.
The second Sunday of the NFL season was especially brutal, as injuries tore through the league at an unprecedented rate, shelving several of the game’s biggest stars.
Six of the top-30 players in TSN fantasy football leagues by ADP were forced to the sideline, five of which are expected to miss significant time.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, the consensus No. 1 fantasy pick, is out four-to-six weeks with a high-ankle sprain (the same injury that reigning receiving king Michael Thomas suffered).
Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who was a consensus top-three overall option, tore his ACL and is done for the season.
With so many stars now on the sidelines, nailing the waiver wire this week is extremely important to your fantasy success.
So without further delay, here are the top pick-up options that could still be available in your league heading into Week 3.
RB: Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers
The absence of CMC creates an abundance of opportunity in the Panthers backfield. McCaffrey was averaging 24 touches a game and that work has to go somewhere.
Enter Mike Davis, one of only two healthy RBs on the team. Davis was a big part of the Carolina offence once McCaffrey left the game, and faces little competition for work.
As of right now, the only one standing between him and 15-20 touches a week is special teamer Trenton Cannon, making Davis a must-add in all formats. He’s currently available in over 99 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
RB: Darrell Henderson Jr, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams backfield suddenly doesn’t seem so crowded. Week 1 star Malcolm Brown and talented rookie Cam Akers left Sunday’s game versus Philadelphia and both are question marks moving forward.
That’s great news for Darrell Henderson Jr., who ripped off 81 yards and a score on the ground, and added another 40 yards through the air. The Rams lead the NFL in rushing rate (56.83%) and Henderson is available in 55.4 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
RB: Devonta Freeman, Free Agent
This is a bit of a leap of faith. Freeman, not Dion Lewis or Wayne Gallman, is the guy you want to replace Barkley. He already worked out for the Eagles and reportedly worked out for the Giants on Tuesday.
Multiple reports out of the Big Apple suggest the Giants are interested in bringing in a free- agent running back, and Freeman is the best name available.
Even if he doesn’t land in New York, with so many injuries to his position he’s bound to sign somewhere. When he does, he’ll have real fantasy value, which makes him a great add this week. He’s currently available in 92. 1 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
WR: Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
A.J. Brown is dealing with a knee injury, which makes Corey Davis an enticing add for wide receiver-needy teams. The former first round draft pick has yet to live up to his potential so far in his career, but is off to a nice start so far in 2020.
Davis has produced double-digit points in back-to-back outings and is tied for the team lead in targets (13). He’s currently available in 64.4 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
WR: Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs
Mecole Hardman, everyone’s favourite 2020 sleeper, is in line for an increased workload due to the head injury to Sammy Watkins. The 4.33 speedster should now see work in three receiver sets.
Although he won’t be Patrick Mahomes’ first look, he has the talent to single-handedly swing your fantasy matchup in the blink of an eye.
Hardman converted six of his 26 catches into touchdowns last season. He is currently available in 57.8 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
TE: Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans
Fresh off a two-touchdown performance in Sunday’s win over the Jaguars, Jonnu Smith is the biggest priority-add at the tight end position. He’s tied for the team lead in targets (13) and leads all Titans with three touchdowns.
A freak athlete, Smith ranks 10th in the NFL in yards after catch (85) this season. He is still available in 59.7 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic Show Lakers That the Nuggets Aren't Going Away – Sports Illustrated
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Some NBA players are so smart, and process the game so fluidly, that they can play faster than superior athletes, and they make their teammates play faster, too. If you are really fortunate, you find a guy like that. The Denver Nuggets have two.
Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic probably won’t win the NBA championship next month. But they keep showing why they can, with a style of basketball that has to appeal to anybody who loves the game and not just the highlights. If they were a movie, you would want to watch it again and again, finding subtle charms and new bits of brilliance each time.
The Nuggets’ 114–106 Game 3 win over the Lakers reminded us of what the rest of the playoffs have already shown: Murray and Jokic are not going away, in this series or in the next decade. The longer they play, the more they distinguish themselves. The Nuggets came back from 3–1 deficits in the first two rounds, and they are trying to come back from 2–0 down in this one, and people keep praising their resilience. That is part of it, to be sure. But also, with every game in a series, Murray and Jokic have more information to sort through.
“Hand in hand—there’s two parts to that,” Murray said. “You definitely learn more about your opponent, what to look for, tendencies and all that.”
On the two possessions that finished off the Lakers, Murray made winning plays. First, with Denver up 103–99, Murray started to back down the Lakers’ Alex Caruso, but as soon as Caruso bit on a fake, Murray dribbled away, realized he had time to set his feet behind the three-point line, and drained a three over Caruso. The craftiness that led to the three was every bit as impressive as the actual shot.
On Denver’s next possession, Murray drove, realized his shot would get block, dished to Paul Millsap, backpedaled so he was open, caught a pass, drove again, found Millsap again, and scored. He made a lot of choices, and executed them, in a very short span.
Denver coach Michael Malone said Tuesday night that “we have two superstars in Nikola and Jamal,” and it is amazing to think that a month ago, that would have seemed like hype. Now it is a statement of fact. If Murray was just a good player who had a hot series against Utah, somebody would have exposed him by now. Instead, he keeps exploiting every advantage.
Malone says that he sees teams game-planning more and more for Murray. It isn’t working. Blitz him and he passes the ball before he is trapped. Stick a bigger player on him, as the Lakers did at times, and he will beat his man off the dribble. Pester him with somebody smaller, and he uses his size. Murray is a master at creating just as much space as he needs.
Jokic jokes that he is slow, and the jokes are funny because he is slow. But he doesn’t play slow. He is one of the best passing centers in history, capable of firing an overhand dart to a cutting teammate or making a no-look bounce pass in traffic. Still, the physical limitations are real, and this is especially evident against the Lakers.
In his first five games against Lakers this year, including Game 1 of this series, Jokic averaged 17.2 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists—a dropoff from his regular-season averages of 19.9, 9.7 and 7. It is easy to see why. L.A. has the freakiest center in the league, Anthony Davis, a player who is longer and much more athletic than Jokic. The Lakers can also throw a bunch of different large pests at Jokic—they have been starting each game with Javale McGee, then move on to Davis, Dwight Howard and others. For the first game and a half of this series, Jokic looked overwhelmed. But players this smart do not stay overwhelmed for long.
“We were one step slower than them,” Jokic said. “They were surprising us—by the pace, by the rebounding.”
Jokic has recovered in an assortment of ways. He counters the Lakers’ size by facing the basket. When he gets too much attention, he fires to a teammate. Howard has played this series like a pro-wresting heel. He appears to want to get inside Jokic’s head, but Jokic is far too smart to let it happen. He said he did not enter the game thinking about scoring.
“To be honest, they’re doing their job,” Jokic said of the Lakers. “I don’t think about it as a matchup. I’m just trying to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
Murray and Jokic have an extremely advanced understanding of the way the game is supposed to be played. They are also both level-headed enough to be honest about when they don’t reach their standard, no matter what the stats say. After his 28-point, 12-assist night, Murray said, “I didn’t think I had a good game in total, to be honest with you. I didn’t get everybody organized. I had too many live-ball turnovers that led to points.”
The Nuggets still trail this series 2–1. The Lakers still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But Murray and Jokic have 48 more minutes of information in their brains that they can take to Game 4.
Inside Allegiant Stadium: Cost, capacity & more to know about Las Vegas Raiders' new home – Sporting News
By moving to Las Vegas, the Raiders traded a torn up field with baseball infield dirt on it for a brand new venue and fan market of their own.
The Oakland Coliseum had been perhaps NFL’s worst stadium; Allegiant Stadium, where the Raiders now play, figures to be one of the best.
The Raiders debut their new home on Monday night against the Saints in front of a national TV audience, officially welcoming pro football to Las Vegas after decades of the NFL toying with the idea of expanding to Sin City. That’s two major sports teams for Las Vegas in quick succession — it also recently got the NHL’s Golden Knights — and two new venues.
While the Raiders aren’t expected to make the playoffs in their first year in Las Vegas, they do appear to be respectable. Quarterback Derek Carr, playing for his starting job after a couple of mediocre years, is surrounded by a rising cast of skill players who could help him shine. In Week 1, the team put up 34 points in a win over the Panthers.
For much of the past 20 years, national audiences have known the Raiders only for mishaps on and off the field. Monday night, then, is an opportunity for the franchise to score a rare win in the public eye.
Below is an in-depth guide to Allegiant Stadium and the Raiders’ move from Oakland to Las Vegas:
How much did Allegiant Stadium cost to build?
Allegiant Stadium required nearly $2 billion to put together, significantly less than the $5 billion it took to finish recently opened SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Unlike SoFi Stadium, which was privately financed, the Raiders received financial help from the city of Las Vegas to get their new home done. About 40 percent of the cost of the Allegiant Stadium project ($750 million) reportedly came from public funds.
How long did construction take?
Construction of Allegiant Stadium began in November 2017 and finished this summer, meaning it took a little less than three years to build.
Allegiant Stadium capacity
Allegiant Stadium has a base capacity of 65,000 people but can expand to hold more than 70,000 for select events.
Where is Allegiant Stadium?
Allegiant Stadium is located in Paradise, Nev., which is an unincorporated town within the Las Vegas metropolitan area.
Special features of Raiders’ new stadium
Despite being an inside field, the playing surface is made out of real grass. It has a track deep underneath it, and during breaks between games it can be wheeled outside to receive direct sunlight.
Unlike many other modern football structures, Allegiant Stadium does not have a video board hanging down from its roof. Instead, there are large monitors spread around the perimeter of the stands. The choice to forgo a central screen came from a desire to maintain a full translucent roof.
Al Davis Memorial Torch
Another defining feature of Allegiant Stadium — perhaps the defining feature — is an 85-foot eternal “flame” honoring late Raiders owner Al Davis. It was created via 3D printer and is made of carbon fiber and aluminum.
What does Allegiant Stadium look like?
Allegiant Stadium has a shiny black exterior in recognition of one of the Raiders’ primary colors. Like many new stadiums, it is meant to feel airy and open despite being indoors, and side windows and see-through roof assist in creating that effect.
Below are pictures and videos of Allegiant Stadium:
Jon Gruden on opening up The Death Star (Allegiant Stadium) Monday night: “I don’t give a damn about Star Wars … but it’s a cool name and we just have to play well when we get in there.”
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 17, 2020
Do the Raiders own Allegiant Stadium?
The Las Vegas Stadium Authority, run by a nine-member Board of Directors, owns Allegiant Stadium.
How much did naming rights for the Raiders’ stadium cost?
Exact contract terms between Allegiant and the Raiders were never officially announced, but Allegiant is reportedly playing more than $20 million per year for the deal.
Does Allegiant Stadium have a retractable roof?
The stadium’s roof is not retractable, though its semi-translucence allows natural light to illuminate the field during day games. There are also four Lanai doors along the sides of the stadium that allow views of a surrounding area that includes the Vegas Strip.
Does UNLV play at Allegiant Stadium?
Yes, UNLV football will play at Allegiant Stadium, giving the Runnin’ Rebels a college venue far nicer than any of their Mountain West rivals. Allegiant Stadium will also host the Pac-12 football championship game as well as the annual Las Vegas Bowl. It will not host baseball games, though, in a boon for a Raiders franchise used to sharing a field with the Oakland A’s.
When did the Raiders move to Las Vegas?
The Raiders moved from Oakland to Las Vegas in 2020. This is their first season outside of California.
Why aren’t the Raiders in Oakland?
The Raiders wanted a new stadium and either the Los Angeles market or a major market of their own. When Oakland refused to chip in the help the Raiders desired for a new stadium, and the NFL denied an LA move, Las Vegas became the franchise’s preferred destination.
The team prides itself on being a brand beyond a specific location, and it hopes the transient nature of Las Vegas can goose its bottom line rather than working against it.
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