Farrar first American to win Tour de France stage on July 4
Two months ago, Tyler Farrar was demoralized, sleeping 20 hours a day. He had even stopped riding, overcome by sorrow after his best friend died in a crash at the Giro d'Italia.
On Monday, Farrar became the first American to win a stage of the Tour de France on the Fourth of July. It was the first time he had won a stage in cycling's showcase race, and he dedicated the victory to the late Wouter Weylandt of Belgium.
"It's a little bit unbelievable to me at the moment that it actually happened," said Farrar, who pulled out of the Giro after the accident. "This has been a horrible last two months with everything that happened in the Giro. I've had a lot of ups and downs. But in the end, I wanted to be able to come back, and do something special to pay tribute, and this is certainly the biggest stage in the world to do that."
Farrar, a sprint specialist from Wenatchee, Wash., who rides for Garmin-Cervelo, sped ahead in the last few hundred yards of the 123-mile course from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon to win the third stage. He has now won a stage in each of cycling's three-week major tours — France, Italy and Spain.
The previous American to win a Tour de France stage was Levi Leipheimer, who in 2007 was first in the individual time trial in Angouleme.
"I certainly would have taken it on any day," Farrar said. "But as an American, winning on the Fourth of July, it's the icing on the cake. ... Lucky me."
Norway's Thor Hushovd kept the Tour de France's yellow jersey. Hushovd, however, is a sprint specialist and is not expected to hold his lead through the mountains in the second and third weeks.
Holmes one of five added to British Open
Kentuckian J.B. Holmes, Webb Simpson and Steve Marino are among five alternates who can book a trip to the British Open.
Tournament organizers set aside five extra spots to make sure they didn't go over the 156-man limit for the field at Royal St. George's in Sandwich, England, next week. Now that there are only two exemptions remaining — one each at the Scottish Open and John Deere Classic — they have offered spots to five alternates.
The alternate list is determined by this week's world ranking.
Simpson is the highest-ranked player (No. 54) not already exempt. The other alternates behind him are Holmes, Vijay Singh, Marino and Yuta Ikeda. Singh's status is uncertain, as he withdrew from the AT&T National with a back injury despite being in contention.
Flay gets first Grade I stakes victory
Her Smile cooked up a holiday treat for celebrity chef Bobby Flay, winning the $250,000 Prioress Stakes on Monday at Belmont Park. Flay's 3-year-old filly beat Pomeroys Pistol by a half length. The time was 1:09.44 for the 6 furlongs. Blocked by a wall of horses as she started her rally, Her Smile found an opening along the rail and powered through for her fourth win in 10 starts.
Javier Castellano was aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher as Her Smile pulled off the 7-1 upset, paying $16.20, $7.20 and $3.50. PAlienation, the 8-5 favorite, was third.
"It was awesome, a great feeling," said Flay, whose More Than Real won the Grade II Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall. "We thought this might be a little too short, we thought maybe 7 furlongs might be a little bit better, but we just told Javier to be patient because it was all speed except her; we got the fractions we wanted and what a great ride."
Serena drops to 175th in WTA rankings
Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic rose to No. 1 in the ATP rankings for the first time Monday, while Serena Williams dropped to 175th on the WTA list, her lowest spot since 1997.
Djokovic officially moved up from No. 2 one day after beating previously top-ranked Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 for his first title at the All England Club. It's the first time in nearly 7½ years that a man other than Nadal or Roger Federer is ranked No. 1.
"Times are changing," the 24-year-old Djokovic said Monday. "It's good for the sport, I think, to have some new faces."
Williams is a former No. 1 and a 13-time Grand Slam champion who was ranked 25th entering Wimbledon after missing nearly a full year because of a series of health scares. As the defending champion at the All England Club, though, Williams had a lot of rankings points to defend, so her loss to Marion Bartoli in the fourth round led to the 150-place slide Monday.
Williams hasn't been this far down since the rankings of Nov. 3, 1997, when she was 304th. She moved into the top 150 the next week, and hadn't fallen back outside that level until now.
Her older sister Venus, who also lost in the fourth round last week, went from 30th to 34th Monday, meaning that Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who stayed at 31st after a first-round Wimbledon exit, is the highest-ranked U.S. woman for the first time.
Caroline Wozniacki stayed at No. 1 on Monday, despite losing in the fourth round last week.
Sports in the courts
Clemens' perjury trial opens this week
Roger Clemens' will enter federal court this week to fight charges he lied to a House subcommittee about using performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens is charged with perjury, false statements and obstruction of Congress. The record-setting pitcher who once seemed destined for the Hall of Fame now could face prison if 12 jurors agree that he lied. The trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday and last four to six weeks. Clemens' defense strategy is to try to discredit his former trainer Brian McNamee, who says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. McNamee says he kept the needles, which will be evidence at trial. Clemens' attorneys say McNamee is a "serial liar."
The last word
Ever wonder what goes through a pitcher's mind during those endless hours between mound stints? The Cincinnati Reds' Sam LeCure recently tweeted:
"You can't consider a fish a pet, because you can't pet a fish, right? These are the things I wonder about."