Lance Armstrong's struggle to dominate a surprisingly difficult Tour de France could hinge on beating the clock yesterday's individual time trial -- a decisive race on undulating terrain that tests riders to their limits. \nThe American cycling star may hold the overall lead in this year's Tour, but only by a razor-thin margin of 21 seconds that could be in danger if he is not on top of his game in the time trial. \nUnlike in past years, his top rivals feel victory is within their grasp. \n"The standings are very close," Armstrong, soaked in sweat, conceded in brief remarks to reporters. \nNo contender, including American Tyler Hamilton, competing with a double fracture of his right collarbone, bothered to mount a challenge Thursday on one of the Tour's least punishing stages. \nInstead, they rode alongside Armstrong on the flatlands from Narbonne to Toulouse, always staying within the main pack and finishing in the same time. \nThe top rivals -- Alexander Vinokourov of Kazhakstan, 1997 winner Jan Ullrich, Spanish rider Francisco Mancebo, Iban Mayo of Spain, and Hamilton -- chose to conserve their forces, hoping to chip away at Armstrong's lead during yesterday's vital individual time trial. \n"The time trial is totally going to dictate how the rest of the Tour is raced," said Frankie Andreu, a former US Postal Service teammate of Armstrong. \nThe 47km run across the sun-drenched hills from Gaillac to Cap'Decouverte is raced against the clock and riders leave several minutes apart. \nArmstrong has himself conceded the stage poses the toughest challenge since he first won the Tour in 1999. But the 31-year-old Texan has scouted the course numerous times and knows it well. \n"I've been doing extra work on the time trial bike in training," he said. But one factor that could play against him is the wind. \n"We'll have to see at the end because the wind direction might change," he said. \nBut Armstrong isn't alone in setting time aside to prepare for the time trial. \n"It's obviously a huge thing," said Australia's Baden Cooke, a fdjeux.com rider who won an earlier stage and currently holds the green jersey for best sprinter. \nVinokourov said he felt in top shape and was pleased with his performance so far. \n"It gives my morale a boost ahead the race against the clock and the Pyrenees," he said. \nIf Armstrong fails to gain a stranglehold on the race with the time trial, he knows front-runners could give him a tough time during the four stages in the mighty Pyrenees mountains, starting today. \n"He will have to respond and go with these guys when they attack on the climbs, that's what's going to be the difference," said Andreu. \nThursday's race gave lesser-known riders a chance to grab the spotlight. Armstrong finished 42 seconds behind the winner, Spanish rider Juan Antonio Flecha, competing in his first Tour. Dutch cyclist Bram De Groot finished second, and Spanish rider Isidro Nozal was third. \nHollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is following part of the Tour, returned the leader's yellow jersey to Armstrong when he ascended the podium. Earlier in the day, the two posed for pictures outside the Postal team's bus. \nPrior to Thursday's stage, Hamilton's entourage angrily denied speculation by fans and the French media that his collarbone fracture, sustained in a mass crash on July 6, was not as bad as team doctors made it out to be. \nIn front of the Team CSC bus, Bjarne Riis, the team's director and a Tour winner in 1996, held a copy of the medical X-ray showing his injuries to a crowd of photographers. \n"If they look at the X-rays and they can't see the fracture, then I can refer them to an eye specialist," said Hamilton, who has repeatedly suffered injuries and is known to persevere through pain.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
TAIWANESE TO PLAY: Jason Jung faces Frederico Coria in the men’s singles first round today, while in the women’s singles, Hsieh Su-wei is to take on Barbara Haas Novak Djokovic is to renew his love-hate relationship with Roland Garros in the knowledge that it is himself rather than seemingly unsettled 12-time champion Rafael Nadal who could pose the greatest threat to winning a second Paris title and 18th Grand Slam crown. The only man to beat Djokovic this year is Djokovic after the Serb’s hair-trigger temper prompted a sensational disqualification from the US Open. The 33-year-old arrives in the French capital with a 31-1 record this year after his New York brain-fade was followed by a record 36th Masters title in Rome. Djokovic’s 2016 triumph at Roland Garros allowed him to
Taiwan’s Jason Jung was knocked out of the first round of the French Open in straight sets on Sunday, while Andy Murray said it was going to be “difficult” for the former world No. 1 to reach his level of old after he also fell to a lopsided defeat by fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Jung fell to a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Argentina’s Federico Coria in 3 hours, 19 minutes at Roland Garros, despite hitting 55 winners. Jung served for both the first and second sets, then failed to convert two set points at 5-4 in
Michael Schumacher’s son Mick said that the prospect of Lewis Hamilton equaling the Ferrari great’s all-time record of 91 wins has given him something to aim for when he gets to Formula One. Hamilton, who replaced Michael Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013, can take his 91st victory in today’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi — a race he has won four times previously. “One sentence my dad always used to say was: ‘Records are there to be broken.’ It’s everybody’s aim in this sport to do that,” Formula Two championship leader Mick Schumacher said on Friday. “I think Lewis had a very, very