IIHF World Hockey Championship

weden strode into the final of the Ice Hockey World Championships by crushing the United States 6-0 on Saturday.

The defending champion set up a gold medal game on Sunday against Switzerland, which surprised Canada in a 3-2 win in the other semifinal.

The Swedes set up the victory with three goals in three minutes and seven seconds midway through the second period.

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“We didn’t play our best game but we put up a lot of goals,” forward Patric Hornqvist said. “We still have some improvement to do for the game tomorrow.”

Sweden is going for a third world title in six years.

Viktor Arvidsson led Sweden with two goals and goaltender Anders Nielsen made 41 saves for the shutout.

What is it about the Swiss?

For whatever reason, the emerging hockey nation always seems to give Canada trouble in international competition, despite a huge talent discrepancy.

That was the case once again at the IIHF World Championships in Denmark on Saturday, as Switzerland upset Canada 3-2 in the semi-final. Canada will play USA for bronze on Sunday, while the Swiss will face Sweden in the gold medal game.

Switzerland’s best player was their goaltender, Leonardo Genoni, who stopped 43 of 45 shots he faced. The Swiss were full marks for their first goal though, as Tristan Scherwey scored to take a 1-0 lead in the first period after sustained pressure on Canadian goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Vancouver Canucks centre Bo Horvat, who was named Player of the Game for Canada, levelled the score midway through the second period.

Trailing 1-0 in the second, the U.S. had a four-minute power play but allowed a short-handed goal by Magnus Paajarvi, who scored on a rebound after goaltender Keith Kinkaid stopped Mikael Backlund on a breakaway.

Hornqvist stretched the lead to 3-0 on a power play, and Sweden underlined its control when Mattias Janmark made it 4-0 just 11 seconds later.

Arvidsson added his second into an empty net in the final period, and Adrian Kempe finished it off with the sixth. Sweden earned its ninth win from nine games in this championship.

The U.S. pressured in the opening period, outshooting Sweden 16-8 and 41-19 overall. But it was the Swedes who went ahead. Arvidsson knocked in a loose puck in the crease following a shot from above the right circle by Filip Forsberg.

U.S. captain Patrick Kane, the overall scoring leader, failed to register a point for the first time in the championship.

“We just made too many mistakes and they capitalized,” Kane said. “They’ve got a lot of good players over there and made us pay for those mistakes.

“It’s gonna be tough to regroup (for the bronze-medal game) … but we have to do it.”

The quarterfinals at the 2018 IIHF World Championships are over, and as usual, there were some upsets.

In the first game to go against the standings order, Canada, who finished third in their Group, beat Russia, who finished second. The game went to overtime, and was won on a stunning pass from Connor McDavid to Ryan O’Reilly.

Canada used their deeper forward pool to overcome their deficiencies in net, and all they need to do is repeat that twice more and they’ll have the gold. Darcy Kuemper will likely start again, although there has been no official word on Curtis McElhinney’s reported injury.

In their quarterfinal, the USA had a bit more of a challenge from the Czechs than they likely expected, but they held on to win 3-2.

Sweden also struggled to solve Elvis Merzlikins in their match against Latvia, but they won it 3-2 as well. When you consider how close the Danes came to beating this Latvian team, Sweden’s struggles make it seem like there was a lot of parity in the teams this year.

Finland’s troubles certainly seem to indicate that too. In the upset of the day, Finland and Kasperi Kapanen were beat by the Swiss in a game that the Swiss held sway in from the very beginning. The Swiss were bolstered by the two Nashville Predators, but Roman Josi wasn’t the factor in the game you’d expect. Rather, the entire Swiss team skated fast, controlled the puck and totally disrupted the Finnish attempts at zone entry.

The Shots on Goal were close to even by the end, and considering the best offence in the preliminary round was chasing the play all game, that says the Swiss defending was absolutely amazing. The score finished 3-2 after the Finns pushed hard for the second half of the third period after they’d got their second goal. The unheralded Swiss goalie held firm, and the Finns are out of the tournament.

Semifinal Schedule
Both Semifinal games are on Saturday, May 19, and the start times have changed from what we’ve had up to now. All time are Eastern Time:

Sweden vs USA at 9:15 a.m. The television coverage begins at 9 a.m. on TSN 1, 3, 4 and 5

Canada vs Switzerland at 1:15 p.m. Begins at 1 p.m. on TSN 1, 3, 4 and 5.

The bronze medal game is Sunday at 9:30 a.m., and the gold medal game is Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

There is no relegation game, Belarus and Korea will drop down to Division I A play next year, replaced by Great Britain and Italy at next year’s World Championships.

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USA vs Canada

The Canadians outplayed Switzerland for much of the contest, but never led as they struggled to solve Swiss goaltender Leonardo Genoni. Genoni stopped 43 of the 45 shots he faced, with most of them coming in the second and third periods as Canada ramped up the pressure.

Tristan Scherwey opened the scoring for Switzerland late in the first period, but the Canadians responded well in the second and tied the game on a Bo Horvat wrist-shot. The Swiss regained the lead a few minutes later and then pushed it to 3-1 in the third period with some opportunistic offense from their special teams.

Gregory Hofmann tapped home a Kevin Fiala pass for a power play marker in the second and Gaetan Haas made the most of a man-advantage by redirecting Switzerland’s only third-period shot on goal past Darcy Kuemper to give his team a two-goal cushion.

Colton Parayko’s one-time blast in the final 130 seconds of regulation made things interesting, but the Swiss held their nerve to seal the win.

Canada will face the United States for the bronze on Sunday (9:45 a.m. ET) in a rematch between the rivals who opened the 2018 tournament against each other. The United States won that first game, 5-4, in a shootout.

Sporting News provided updates throughout Canada’s 3-2 semifinal loss to Switzerland (all times Eastern).

Third period
Shots on goal: Canada 45, Switzerland 17

3:33 – Canada wins the faceoff and takes two more shot attempts, but Parayko’s effort is blocked and Genoni comes up big once again on a rebound as the Swiss hold on to advance to the gold medal game.

3:31 –  The Canadians keep control of the puck in the offensive zone and try to create chaos in the crease. Genoni finds the loose puck and covers with seven seconds remaining.

3:30 –  Canada continues to apply the pressure with six skaters on the ice and Switzerland ices the puck with 42 seconds to play.

3:27 –  Goal Canada!  The extra attacker pays off as Colton Parayko blasts a one-timer off of Genoni’s blocker and into the back of the net. Canada uses its timeout to get its top line some rest.  3-2 Switzerland with 2:07 to play in the period.

Canada will not play for a gold medal at the world hockey championship for the first time in four years.

Bo Horvat and Colton Parayko were Canada’s scorers in a 3-2 loss to Switzerland on Saturday in the semifinal of the men’s international tournament. Struggling special teams were Canada’s undoing.

The Swiss took just one penalty, in the third period, then killed it off successfully.

“It would have been nice to get a power play earlier in the game,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a mainstay on Canada’s first unit throughout the tournament. “We were working for them and — you can’t say whether there were calls that were missed or not.”

Canada’s power-play unit was potent on Thursday, scoring three times in its 5-4 quarterfinal win over Russia.

“Our power play was going the other day and tonight when we had the chance, we put a lot on net, we had a lot of chances,” Nugent-Hopkins added. “That usually turns the game. They capitalized on the power play and we didn’t get those opportunities.”

Switzerland went 2 for 3 on the power play on Saturday against a top-ranked Canadian team that had successfully killed 24-of-26 penalties headed into the semifinal.

Darcy Kuemper made 14 saves for the Canadians, who will face the United States on Sunday in the bronze-medal game.

Gaetan Haas’s third-period power-play goal was the eventual winner for the Swiss, while Tristan Scherwey and Gregory Hofmann also scored. Leonardo Genoni stopped 43 shots in net for Switzerland.

“They were solid defensively,” said Canada’s captain Connor McDavid. “They did a good job of kind of packing it in and making it hard for us to come to the middle. It was hard to get chances.”

Hofmann scored while Joel Edmundson was serving a second-period hooking penalty, tipping a pass from Kevin Fiala behind Kuemper’s pads at 9:40 of the second period. Haas added his goal at the 4:14 mark of the third, 1:03 after Nugent-Hopkins was whistled for hooking.

The only puck to find the net in the first period came off Scherwey’s stick after he turned on the jets down the left wing and beat Kuemper high to the glove side with 1:19 left in the opening frame.

Horvat’s goal was almost a carbon copy, finishing off a nice passing sequence with his linemates Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Pierre-Luc Dubois 9:40 into a second period where Canada outshot the Swiss 18-11.

After delivering a win in relief against Canada in preliminary-round play at the 2017 world championship in Paris, 30-year-old Genoni, who plays with SC Bern of the Swiss National League, was rock solid once again.

He had 17 saves in the third period and got some crucial help from star Swiss defenceman Roman Josi on his team’s lone penalty kill.

“He was real good,” said McDavid of Josi. “He’s one of the best defencemen in the world and he was good on that kill.”

Parayko finally beat Genoni to get Canada within a goal with Kuemper pulled for the extra attacker with 2:07 left in the third period. McDavid earned the assist for his 17th point, bringing him three shy of tying a Canadian record for the most points in a single tournament.

Canada was without the services of Jaden Schwartz after he suffered an upper-body injury in the third period against Russia. Tyson Jost moved up the lineup and Anthony Beauvillier drew back in.

Sunday will mark Canada’s fourth straight opportunity to play for a medal at the world championship, though this time the team will be playing for bronze.

“It’s important,” said McDavid. “You always want to win your last game as a team and we have an opportunity to do that tomorrow.”

The Canadians settled for silver in Cologne, Germany in 2017 after a 2-1 shootout loss to Sweden, one year after Connor McDavid scored the gold medal-winning goal on a Bill Peters-coached team against Finland in Moscow. In 2015, Sidney Crosby served as captain when Canada won gold in Prague.

In the early semifinal, Anders Nilsson of the Vancouver Canucks earned the shutout as Sweden beat the United States 6-0.

Sweden vs Switzerland

Switzerland stunned title favorite Canada 3-2 to reach only its third final of the world ice hockey championship on Saturday.

The Swiss will play the gold medal game today against defending champion Sweden, which strode into the final by crushing the United States 6-0.

Canada and the U.S. will play for bronze.

“We obviously got motivated a lot playing them,” Switzerland defenseman Mirco Muller said. “They’re the best country in the world, hockey-wise, and they have a great team here. It was a great battle for us.”

Canada goaltender Darcy Kuemper made some fine saves in the first period before Tristan Scherwey scored the go-ahead goal for Switzerland with 1:19 remaining in the first period.

Bo Horvat tied it in the second but Switzerland proved resilient, and Gregory Hofmann restored the Swiss lead on a power play.

Gaetan Haas struck again on a power play in the third, redirecting into the net a shot by Sven Andrighetto from the point.

Colton Parayko blasted a slap shot past Swiss goaltender Leonardo Genoni to reduce the lead with 2:07 left in the final period as Canada pulled Kuemper for an extra attacker in vain.

“Switzerland played an unbelievable game,” Canada defenseman Aaron Ekblad said. “From the drop of the puck they came at us hard in every facet.”

Genoni stopped 43 shots.

“It’s important that we win the last game,” Canada captain Connor McDavid said. “We’re up to do it.”

Switzerland’s best results have been runner-up in 1935 and 2013. Sweden is going for a third world title in six years, and 11th overall.

“We’re the big underdogs (against Sweden),” Swiss forward Reto Schaeppi said. “We have a chance if we play a really good game.”

Sweden beat Switzerland 5-3 in the preliminary round.

The Swedes set up their victory over the Americans with three goals in a 3:07 span midway through the second period.

“We didn’t play our best game but we put up a lot of goals,” forward Patric Hornqvist said. “We still have some improvement to do for the game tomorrow.”

Viktor Arvidsson led Sweden with two goals and goalie Anders Nielsen made 41 saves for the shutout.

Trailing 1-0 in the second, the U.S. had a four-minute power play but allowed a short-handed goal by Magnus Paajarvi, who scored on a rebound after goaltender Keith Kinkaid stopped Mikael Backlund on a breakaway.

Hornqvist stretched the lead to 3-0 on a power play, and Sweden underlined its control when Mattias Janmark made it 4-0 just 11 seconds later.

Arvidsson added his second into an empty net in the final period, and Adrian Kempe finished it off with the sixth. Sweden earned its ninth victory from nine games in this championship.

The U.S. pressured in the opening period, outshooting Sweden 16-8 and 41-19 overall. But it was the Swedes who went ahead. Arvidsson knocked in a loose puck in the crease following a shot from above the right circle by Filip Forsberg.

U.S. captain Patrick Kane, the overall scoring leader, failed to register a point for the first time in the championship.

“We just made too many mistakes and they capitalized,” Kane said. “They’ve got a lot of good players over there and made us pay for those mistakes.

“It’s gonna be tough to regroup (for the bronze medal game) … but we have to do it.”

World hockey championships

TODAY’S GAMES Bronze medal game

United States vs. Canada, 8:30 a.m.

Gold medal game

Switzerland vs. Sweden, 1 p.m.

Sports on 05/20/2018

Print Headline: Switzerland stuns Canada, Sweden crushes U.S. in semis

Halep vs Svitolina

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Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep meet in the final of the 2018 tennis Rome Masters.

Elina Svitolina is coming off a straight sets win over Anett Kontaveit that took 19 games to decide. In the victory, Svitolina won 68 percent of her first serve points and 65 percent of her second serve points. Svitolina had little trouble in the semifinals, winning 67 percent of her total service points and converting on four of five break chances. Svitolina has now won 22 of her last 29 sets on clay court and continues to have a great deal of success with her return. Svitolina has lost a combined 20 games in her last six sets. Svitolina hopes to win her third title of the year and the 12th title of her career. Svitolina has won each of her last seven final appearances and is 3-0 in finals on clay court. Svitolina has a chance at her fourth career Premier 5 Tournament title and her second straight Rome Masters title. Svitolina has won 10 of her last 12 matches on clay court.

Read more at https://sportschatplace.com/tennis-picks/2018/05/20/elina-svitolina-vs-simona-halep-2018-rome-masters-tennis-pick-preview-odds-prediction#yjAfFAiqWeDyawwv.99Simona Halep is coming off a three sets win over Maria Sharapova that took 27 games to decide. In the victory, Halep won 52 percent of her first serve points and 36 percent of her second serve points. Halep is coming off her worst service performance of the season, but she still managed to win thanks to breaking 11 times. Halep won 63 percent of her return points and gave herself 17 break chances overall. Halep has to obviously play better this time around, but it’s nice to see she can win without playing her complete best. Halep hopes to win her second title of the year and her 17th of her career. Halep has lost five of her last six final appearances but is 1-0 in her career in final appearances on clay. Halep can win her fourth career Premier 5 Tournament title and first since the 2016 Canadian Open. Halep has won seven of her last eight matches on clay court.

These two have played four times and Svitolina has won three of those meetings. The most recent match was in the 2017 WTA Championships, a match Svitolina won in straight sets. Halep’s only win over Svitolina came in the 2017 French Open.

You can make a case for either one of these players given their form and their recent history on clay, but I’m siding with Halep. She’s been the more consistent player this season and has the advantage serving wise. In two meetings on clay, Halep has also been the better player.

Give me Halep to win the title, but it will be close.

The latest installment in the rivalry between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met expectations for one tight set.

Then Nadal pulled away for a 7-6 (4), 6-3 win to reach the Italian Open final on Saturday.

In their 51st meeting but first in more than a year, Nadal’s court coverage eventually proved too much to handle for Djokovic, who is still regaining his form from a persistent right elbow injury.

“That was a tough battle, a good level of tennis, a combination of good tactics and great shots from both of us,” said Nadal, who has had injury trouble of his own over the past year.

Nadal’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be defending champion Alexander Zverev, who recovered from an early break in the second set to beat Marin Cilic 7-6 (13), 6-4.

Zverev destroyed his racket near the end of the tiebreak in which he saved five set points. The German player is aiming for his third title in three weeks after lifting trophies in Munich and Madrid — but he hasn’t beaten Nadal in four tries.

“On this surface (Nadal) is almost unbeatable,” Zverev said. “I’ll have to play my best.”

If Nadal wins his record-extending eighth Rome title, he will replace Roger Federer at No. 1.

Federer is sitting out the clay season to prepare for Wimbledon.

On the women’s side, top-ranked Simona Halep rallied past three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and will again face Elina Svitolina for the trophy.

Svitolina comfortably defeated Anna Kontaveit 6-4, 6-3 in the other semifinal.

In last year’s final, Svitolina came back to beat Halep after the Romanian rolled her ankle.

“I hope I don’t get injured again,” Halep said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

This is the last major warmup before the French Open starts next weekend.

The first set alone of Nadal-Djokovic made the Open era’s most prolific men’s rivalry worth watching. Djokovic recovered from an early break with excellent shot-making and Nadal converted his first set point with a return winner on the line after Djokovic followed his serve to the net.

During one particularly entertaining point midway through the first set, Nadal ran down a drop shot and forced Djokovic to retreat with a smartly angled response before Djokovic came forward again to finish the point off with a volley winner.

Fans stood up and applauded them on multiple occasions.

“It was a really good quality match,” Djokovic said. “I enjoyed it.”

After losing the first set tiebreak, Djokovic started shouting at his support box in an apparent discrepancy over tactics — then did it again on the next changeover.

Nadal got an early break in the second set and never looked back.

Djokovic noted that at 3-3 in the tiebreak he had to go play against the wind, “which is a huge difference” when playing Nadal.

“Those are the little details in tennis that only players and people who were on the court know,” Djokovic said.

Still, this was Djokovic’s best performance of the year.

“I played four matches here and I didn’t expect anything coming into this tournament,” Djokovic said. “I’m pleased with how I played the last three days — very pleased — and hopefully Roland Garros can be a continuation of this run.”

Sharapova appeared worn out toward the end of her nearly 2 1/2-hour match against Halep, having been on court more than seven hours longer than her opponent this week.

The fourth-ranked Svitolina produced only 18 winners to Kontaveit’s 24 but also committed fewer unforced errors — 13 to 20 — in a match that lasted 74 minutes.

Kontaveit, an Estonian, could still be pleased with a week that saw her eliminate four established players: 12th-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe, two-time finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova, 1999 champion Venus Williams and second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki.Top-ranked Simona Halep rallied past three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and will again face Elina Svitolina for the Italian Open trophy.

Sharapova appeared worn out toward the end of her nearly 2 1/2-hour match against Halep, having been on court more than seven hours longer than her opponent this week.The fourth-ranked Svitolina produced only 18 winners to Kontaveit’s 24 but also committed fewer unforced errors — 13 to 20 — in a match that lasted 74 minutes.

Defending champion Svitolina returned to the Italian Open final with a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 win over Anna Kontaveit.

Aiming for the third title defense in her career, Svitolina will face either top-ranked Simona Halep or three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova in Sunday’s championship match on the red clay of the Foro Italico.

“I’m happy with the way I handled today under pressure and all this week,” Svitolina said following her victory Saturday. “I know there is one match to go and I will give it my best shot tomorrow.”

The fourth-ranked Svitolina produced only 18 winners to Kontaveit’s 24 but also committed fewer unforced errors — 13 to 20 — in a match that lasted 74 minutes.

“I was really solid with my performance and I was really proud that I could stay consistent for the entire match,” Svitolina said.

Kontaveit, an Estonian, could still be pleased with a week that saw her eliminate four established players: 12th-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe, two-time finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova, 1999 champion Venus Williams and second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki.

“She was really tough today and played great,” Kontaveit said. “So I’m just taking the positives from this week.”

Halep and Sharapova were meeting later on a warm day in the Italian capital. This is the last major warm-up before the French Open starts next weekend.

Regions Tradition 2018

Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gene Sauers were tied atop the leaderboard at the midway point of the Regions Tradition, the year’s first major. Each sat at 11 under, two shots clear of the field.

Jimenez continued his stellar play, seizing the lead unto himself with a bogey-free 66 that put him at 17 under. He has only one bogey all week and will take a three-shot lead into the final round.

Sauers faltered a bit, shooting a 2-under 70 to fall back into a tie for third at 13 under with Kevin Sutherland and Joe Durant.

Several of the biggest names on PGA TOUR Champions put themselves in position on moving day for a final-round charge at Jimenez.

The biggest mover was Brandt Jobe, one of five players (including Jimenez) to card a 6-under 66 and ride the elevator up the leaderboard. His 66 vaulted him 28 spots into a tie for 22nd at 6 under. Jobe had seven birdies and could have gone lower were it not for a bogey on the par-5 15th, a hole he had birdied on Friday.

The second-biggest jump overall was recorded by two-time Regions Tradition defending champion Bernhard Langer. Another of the players to fire a 66, the German climbed from T-39 to T-13 at 8 under through three rounds. Langer was even par for his third round through 10 holes, but he played the final eight holes in 6 under, including an eagle on the par-5 13th.

The other 66s were turned in by Rocco Mediate, who cruised into a tie for sixth (up 20 spots), and Duffy Waldorf, who moved from 32nd into solo 12th. It was Waldorf’s lowest round of 2018; he has yet to post a top 10 this year after six such finishes in 2017.

Steve Stricker turned in the low round of the day, a 7-under 65 that moved him into solo second at 14 under. His round was jump-started by an eagle-2 on the par-4 eighth when he holed a 9-iron from 157 yards. He will enter the final round three shots behind Jimenez as he seeks his third PGA TOUR Champions win this season and his first major.BIRMINGHAM, ALA. (AP) — Miguel Angel Jimenez wasn’t about to change his evening plans even with a shot at winning his first senior major championship.

Jimenez shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the Regions Tradition and planned to relax with cocktails and a cigar.

“I think I’m going to do exactly the same thing I did (Friday) night,” he said. “I’m going to have a margarita as an aperitif, and then I’m going to have a nice bottle of Rioja (wine) and smoke a big fat cigar.”

Jimenez birdied the final hole to reach 17-under 199 at Greystone Golf & Country Club, matching Gil Morgan’s 54-hole Tradition record set in 1997. Steve Stricker was second in the first of five PGA Tour Champions majors.

Jimenez has six top-five finishes in senior majors but is seeking his first victory. The Spaniard has four PGA Tour Champions titles.

Jimenez got his fourth birdie over the final nine holes on No. 18 after caroming his approach shot off the grandstands and back to about 15 feet from the hole. That set up a two-putt for birdie.

Stricker eagled the par-4 eighth in a 65. He estimated his eagle was about 158 yards with a 9-iron, and he didn’t get to watch it go in.

“It was kind of over a little knob, a bunker that we couldn’t see the green,” he said. “And then birdied 9, so that two-hole stretch kind of really got my momentum going, made the turn in 4 under instead of maybe 2 or something like that.”

Kevin Sutherland, Joe Durant and Gene Sauers were four shots back. Durant shot 67, Sutherland 68, and Sauers 70.

Sauers had shared the second-round lead with Jimenez. He was a shot back before a double bogey on No. 15 when his approach shot went into the woods right of the fairway and he wound up three-putting.

Sauers had opened with his first bogey of the tournament on No. 1 but then started a run of five straight birdies on the 10th hole.

Durant closed with his second eagle of the round on No. 18.

“I got really lucky because I pulled my second shot, and I didn’t think it would carry the water to be quite honest, but it did,” Durant said. “And I took advantage and made a good putt.”

Durant also had an eagle on the second hole and one birdie with no bogeys. He eagled No. 18 in the first round as well.

Sutherland had four birdies and a bogey over the final nine holes. He closed with a birdie.

Stricker wound up with five birdies and a bogey and his 28th consecutive round under par, the fourth longest streak in Tour history.

Stricker already has two wins and is second in the points standings despite playing in only four other tournaments.He’ll be chasing Jimenez, whose potential eagle on No. 13 was on target but hit the flag to set up a tap-in for birdie.

Jimenez birdied on par-3 No. 14 from the edge of the green after just clearing the bunker. Those kind of shots helped him have an even better time on the course than usual.

“Of course, you cannot beat this,” Jimenez said. “Look at our office. Beautiful sunshine, nice grass, nice golf course, nice people around, you know. You can’t beat this, really. I enjoy it.

“I always tend to enjoy myself on the golf course. That’s the main thing, that you are happy.”

Two-time defending champion Bernhard Langer shot a 66 but is still nine shots back. He had four birdies, an eagle and a bogey on the first nine holes to move to 8 under.

Langer came in seeking to become the first to win three straight since the Tradition started in 1989.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Kingsmill Championship 2018

Way to Watch Kingsmill Championship 2018 Kingsmill Championship teed off Thursday morning amid a sketchy weather forecast for the week. Check below for live updates leading into the tournament.

6:45 P.M.

Five-way tie for lead
Two players in the afternoon group — Jaye Marie Green and In Gee Chun — shot 6-under-par 65 to forge a five-way tie for the lead with Jessica Korda, Azahara Munoz and Annie Park.

It’s the first time a first round at Kingsmill has ever had more than three players tied for the lead.

4:41 P.M.

6 under holding strong, but two with 2 shots
The trio of 65s that Jessica Korda, Azahara Munoz and Annie Park shot this morning have held up for a few hours now.

But two players — Jaye Marie Green and Angel Yin — on are the course at 4 under for the round.

Neither player has finished in the top 50 at Kingsmill in their career. Yin, 19, has a top 10 this season and is ranked 50th in the world. Green, 24, has four top 10s in 96 career LPGA Tour starts. The former University of Florida star has made three straight cuts and posted a season-best T15 in San Francisco in late April.

Soft greens have helped 70 players shoot under par, while 26 are within three shots of the lead.

3:39 P.M.

Another Korda on the move
With sister Jessica Korda tied for the lead, younger sister Nelly Korda has jumped up the leaderboard at Kingsmill.

The 19 year old made three birdies on the back nine — she started at No. 10 — to pull within three shots of her sister, Azahara Munoz and Annie Park.

Jaye Marie Green is having the best round so far of the afternoon groupings, going 4 under through her first seven holes.

Angel Yin and Dani Holmqvist are at 3 under among afternoon players.

3 P.M.

Korda, Park talk about early rounds
Both Jessica Korda and Annie Park spoke with the media after their 65s.

Park has only played in three events on the LPGA Tour this year after competing some on the Symetra Tour this season.

2 P.M.

Rain picking up as lead stays at 6 under
Jessica Korda, Azahara Munoz and Annie Park remain on top of the leaderboard as the morning groups finished up.

There’s been a pretty steady rain that started around noon at the River Course.

An early standout rom the afternoon groups: former Kingsmill champion Karrie Webb is 3 under through five holes. Ryann O’Toole has also played well, shooting 4 under through five holes.

The final afternoon groups teed off at 2:11 p.m., so every player will get at least some of their round in regardless of weather conditions hold up this afternoon.

1 P.M.

Three tied for the lead
A flurry of finishes has pushed Jessica Korda, Annie Park and Azahara Munoz into a tie for the lead at 6 under as most of the morning groupings wrap up.

Korda may a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 18, while Park went birdie-eagle-birdie on Nos. 14-16 to get to 6 under. Munoz made a birdie on No. 8 — she started on the back nine — and parred the 9th to tied in the lead.

Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew and Yu Liu are two shots back.

11:45 A.M.

Munoz, Park lead at 5 under
Azahara Munoz (Spain/Arizona State) started with a bogey on the 10th hole, but she’s birdied six holes since to hold the lead at 5 under.

She’s joined at the top by Annie Park (USA/Southern Cal) and Anne-Catherine Tanguay (Canada/Oklahoma). Both Munoz and Park are former NCAA individual champions.

Jessica Korda and Daniela Darquea are at 4 under.

11:17 A.M.

New leader at 5 under
Azahara Munoz started with a bogey on the 10th hole, but she’s birdied six holes since to hold the solo lead at 5 under.

Emma Talley is a shot back at 4 under.

Annie Park is a shot behind the leaders in a group with Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Daniela Darquea and Anne-Catherine Tanguay.

10:56 A.M.

Tanguay leads a strong group
Anne-Catherine Tanguay (Canada) birdied four of her first six holes to take an early lead in the opening round of the Kingsmill Championship.

Tanguay, who’s made only cut this season and is ranked 446th in the world, holds a one-shot lead over Jessica Korda, Azahara Munoz, Minjee Lee and Emma Talley.

Thirty players are currently under par.

10:20 A.M.

Former champion, three others tied for lead
Minjee Lee, the 2015 Kingsmill champion, jumped into the lead at 3 under through seven holes. She’s joined by Yu Liu, Jessica Korda (both through eight holes) and Canadian Anne-Catherine Tanguay.

Another eight players are a shot back.

9:24 A.M.

Large group tied at 2 under
China’s Yu Liu jumped out to an early lead at 3 under with birdies on three of her first four holes before a bogey pushed her back to 2 under.

The group joining her at 2 under: Annie Park (USA), Brianna Do (USA), I.K. Kim (South Korea), Laetitia Beck (Israel) and Jessica Korda (USA).

8:40 A.M.

Do, Liu grab early lead
With 43 golfers on the course early in the opening round of the Kingsmill Championship, Brianna Do and Yu Liu grabbed an early lead at 2 under. They top a group of 10 golfers who are under par for the round.

Do, an American who made last year’s tournament through the Monday qualifier, birdied Nos. 1 and 3 and is through five holes.

A native of China, Liu made birdies on the only two holes she has played, the par 4 1st and the par-3 2nd.

Among the other highlights at 1 under: Jessica Korda, I.K. Kim and Pernilla Lindberg.

EARLIER

Kingsmill Championship in pictures
Take a look at photos from all week at the Kingsmill Championship at the River Course at the Kingsmill Resort.

PHOTOS

Rain dots the forecast this week
With Thursday’s opening round of the Kingsmill Championship approaching, the forecast calls for at least a 90-percent chance of thunderstorms on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. How is Kingsmill and the LPGA preparing?

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Thursday’s featured pairings
A look at some of the top groupings in the first round of the Kingsmill Championship.

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Lexi Thompson inspired by her mom’s battles with cancer
The Kingsmill Championship has long been Judy and Lexi Thompson’s mother-daughter week. No offense to the rest of the family, especially Lexi’s father and two brothers, but they’re just not invited.

Judy and Lexi bunk at the nearby Greenspring Vacation Resort in a condo Judy calls “homey.” Mom prepares chicken, tacos and salads, all her daughter’s faves. Lexi exhales from the pressures of LPGA Tour celebrity and spends quality time with the woman she calls her best friend.

“It’s like a little house,” Judy said Tuesday, relaxing inside Kingsmill’s Conference Center. “It’s comfy, and that’s important.”

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Pernilla Lindberg is riding high after her first major win
Nine-year LPGA Tour veteran Pernilla Lindberg made her first victory a major at the ANA Inspiration in April.

“There have been times where there was some doubt there if I’m going to (win),” she said Wednesday on the eve of her sixth Kingsmill Championship. “But now I’ve obviously proved to myself that I can do it, but also I’ve shown everyone else that I can do it.

“Next time I’m in contention, or even next time I’m in a playoff, I’ve been there before and other girls now know I’ve been there before and how tough I am in that situation.”

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Kingsmill Championship interactive timeline
A look at what’s happened on the LPGA Tour this season and in the major championships since last year’s Kingsmill Championship.

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Kingsmill Championship interactive field database
Take a deeper look at the 2018 Kingsmill Championship field.

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University of Richmond star thrilled to be in the field
Elsa Diaz doesn’t seem overwhelmed by playing in her first LPGA event. In fact, sitting before the press twice in the last four weeks leading up to the Kingsmill Championship, she’s been anything but.

“I try to envision what kind of pressure I’m going to feel,” Diaz said. “You know, the crowd and all. But all I see is me and Lexi becoming best friends and me and Natalie going shopping.”

That would be Lexi Thompson, whose career earnings have topped $7.5 million, and Natalie Gulbis, one of the biggest celebrities on the LPGA Tour. Diaz isn’t scared of playing against these people. She’s dreaming about socializing with them.

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Dorsey Addicks, Emily Tubert reel in Kingsmill Championship qualifying spots
Dorsey Addicks and Emily Tubert shoot 1-under par 70 to qualify for the LPGA Kingsmill Championship.

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Players to watch at the Kingsmill Championship
A look at some of the key players for the 2018 LPGA Kingsmill Championship.

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Kingsmill tournament officials confident they’ll find title sponsor
Armed with an extended contract, new presenting sponsor and typically superb field, the Kingsmill Championship has palpable momentum. Advance ticket sales are up; Wednesday’s pro-am is sold out for the first time in a decade, and defending champion Lexi Thompson is among the sport’s most recognizable names — she’s closing in on 500,000 Twitter followers.

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Kingsmill ‘on the upswing’ going into 14th LPGA tourney
A year ago, the mood at Kingsmill was a mixture of hope and caution.

Hope because its new owner was a golf-minded company that operates 16 courses in nine states. Caution because the tournament’s contract with the LPGA was in its final year.

But at Tuesday’s media day, with the event itself four weeks away, it was all hope. A successful 2017 tournament led to a contract extension, and the Kingsmill Championship will remain on the LPGA’s schedule for another three years.

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U.S. Open-like conditions await stout Kingsmill field
Two weeks after the Kingsmill Championship next month, the world’s premier female golfers will compete at the U.S. Women’s Open in Alabama. Such time and distance proximity figures to keep Lexi Thompson’s River Course record safe.

With rounds of 65-65-69-65, Thompson dismantled Kingsmill last year, her 20-under-par aggregate besting Annika Sorenstam’s 2008 standard by one stroke. She made all of two bogeys on the par-71 layout and hit 64 of 72 greens in regulation.

But Pete Dye’s River Course may not be as accommodating this May, for two reasons.

TYR Pro Swim Series 2018

Editorial content for the 2018 TYR Pro Swim Series Indianapolis is sponsored by SwimOutlet.com. Visit SwimOutlet.com for more information on our sponsor. For full Swimming World coverage, check out our event coverage page.

After shattering the World Record in the 1500 and the U.S. Open mark in the 400 freestyle, Katie Ledecky will be back in the water on the final night of the 2018 TYR Pro Swim Series Indianapolis in the 800 distance. She owns the top seed in the event as does Club Wolverine’s Felix Auboeck who will be heavily challenged by Mission Viejo’s Zane Grothe.

After posting the top time in this morning’s prelims, Katie Drabot will not be competing the 200 butterfly in tonight’s finals. Veteran Hali Flickinger will look to secure the win in this event. Other top seeds include Chase Kalisz in the 200 fly, Indiana duo Lilly King and Cody Miller in the 100 breaststroke, Ali Deloof and Jacob Pebley in the 100 backstroke and Melanie Margalis and Daniel Sos in the 200 IM.Friday night finals are set to get underway from Indianapolis at the TYR Pro Swim Series, with plenty of heavy hitters raring to go in a fast night of racing.

Katie Ledecky will take on a tough double in the 400 IM and 200 free, though the timeline indicates she’ll have over an hour between the two. Melanie Margalis took the 2nd seed to Ledecky in both events this morning, but has scratched the 200 to solely focus on the 400 IM.

Chase Kalisz, Jay Litherland and Gunnar Bentz will have an intriguing battle in the men’s 400 IM, while Nathan Adrian (50 free), Jacob Pebley (200 back) and Blake Pieroni (200 free) would have to be considered favorites in the other three men’s events.

Simone Manuel and Taylor Ruck will clash once again in the 50 free after going 1-2 in the heats, while Manuel will also contest the 200 free and Ruck the 200 back.Melanie Margalis of Saint Petersburg and reigning NCAA champion Ella Eastin separated themselves from the field on the breaststroke leg of the women’s 400 IM, but Margalis’ freestyle was the difference maker as she charged home in 29.52 to win in a time of 4:36.81, a new PB. Margalis, who sat 7th in the world rankings with her 4:37.43 at the Austin Pro Swim, moves up to 4th in the world.

Eastin ended up 2nd in 4:38.43, slotting her into 11th in the world, while top seed from prelims Katie Ledecky moved up from 7th at the 300 to 3rd at the finish in 4:38.88, thanks to a sub-minute final 100. Eastin’s swim was a personal best.

Hali Flickinger (4:40.36) had a strong freestyle leg as well for 4th, and Ally McHugh (4:40.51) nearly ran her down but settled for 5th. Leah Smith had a solid rebound swim after a sub-par 4:52 in prelims, winning the B-final in 4:43.20.To no surprise Chase Kalisz was the leader wire-to-wire in the men’s 400 IM, looking strong on all four strokes as he won by over six seconds in 4:10.55. His 4:08.92 from Atlanta is #1 in the world this season, but that swim is still faster than the 2nd ranked man (Kosuke Hagino, 4:10.69).

Jay Litherland maintained 2nd place throughout the race, characteristically closing strong in 57.8 to go 4:17.09, with youngster Daniel Sos hot on his tail for 3rd in 4:18.12. That swim is a new best time for Sos, who previously had a best of 4:20.46 from the World Junior Championships last summer.

Gunnar Bentz (4:21.34) closed in 27.89 attempting to run down Sean Grieshop for 4th, but ran out of room with Grieshop (4:21.05) holding him by three tenths.Stanford sophomore Katie Ledecky won the 800 free on the final day of the TYR Pro Swim Series at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis on Saturday.

The world record holder and Olympic gold medalist earned her fourth win in four days of her professional debut.

Ledecky was timed in 8:07.27, the third fastest in history, and her best since earning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Cardinal senior and Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel completed her first meet as a professional with a fifth-place finish in the 100 back in 1:01.11.

Ledecky and Manuel, who led Stanford to back-to-back national titles, were joined by several Stanford teammates who are swimming unattached.

Brooke Forde turned in a third-place finish in the 200 IM, racing a 2:13.46; Megan Byrnes was fourth in the 800 free (8:35.90); and Hannah Kukurugya finished fifth in the 200 fly in 2:14.06.

Erin Voss and Lauren Pitzer each swam in a ‘B’ final. Voss placed 12th overall in the 100 back (1:01.96) and Pitzer was 14th in the 800 free (8:49.05).

Katie Drabot swam 2:08.38 during prelims to earn the top seed in the 200 fly and Ella Eastin swam the third-fastest time in 2:10.17, though neither of them swam in the finals.

Eastin went 2:12.97 as the top seed in the 200 IM prelims and Allie Szekely swam 2:16.36, just behind Forde, and then both scratched from the finals. Drabot also competed in just the prelims.

Stanford’s Simone Manuel threw down an impressive 24.59 to edge out Margo Geer and Taylor Ruck to win the women’s 50 freestyle, moving her up into 10th in the world after getting into the top-20 this morning.

Geer was 24.72 for 2nd, which improves her lifetime best of 24.78 done earlier this year, and Ruck proved she’s a consistent 24-second swimmer by dipping below 25 again in 24.76. She sits 7th in the world with her 24.26 from the Commonwealth Games.

Mallory Comerford (25.09) took 4th, and Kayla Sanchez (25.33) edged Kelsi Dahlia (25.36) for 5th.After going 48-point once again last night in the 100 free final, Nathan Adrian produced another sub-22 second 50m swim tonight in 21.97, picking up the victory of Indiana’s Ali Khalafalla and Wolfpack Elite’s Justin Ress. Adrian drops his season best by just over a tenth, and jumps up from tied for 23rd to tied for 12th in the world.

Khalafalla took off over three tenths from the morning for 2nd in 22.14, finishing just .02 off his lifetime best. Ress, who went a PB of 22.36 in prelims, had his second fastest swim ever in 22.51. Aaron Greenberg (22.63), Ryan Held (22.64) and Blake Pieroni (22.80) were the other three sub-23 for 4th, 5th and 6th.

Billboard Music Awards 2018

How To Stream The 2018 Billboard Music Awards Red Carpet Because You Don’t Want To Miss A Single Look

The 2018 Billboard Music Awards are upon us! The ceremony takes place on Sunday, May 20 at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT. This year, the show will broadcast live on NBC from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Of course fashion fans are most interested in streaming the 2018 Billboard Music Awards red carpet. This particular awards show is not quite as fancy as the Grammys — the fashions are a lot looser and funkier.

Think of it as the street style-loving kid sister of the American Music Awards or the MTV VMAs who is just starting to experiment with higher end, sexier looks. So, yeah, the clothes always slay. Short dresses and edgy pantsuits are preferred over intricate, couture gowns at this show.

While you definitely want to tune in to the NBC broadcast of the actual show in order to watch the performances and to see who wins what award, there’s nothing quite like seeing the stars strut their stuff on the red carpet beforehand.

Here’s how to watch the fashion festivities.

E! News will host “Live From the Red Carpet” special prior to the show. It airs at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. So you will want to make a note in your calendar now to park yourself on your couch and in front of the TV for the sartorial parade.However, if you don’t have cable and therefore don’t have access to E!, you should be able to livestream the fashion coverage via the E! site.

The network has not confirmed livestream details as of press time. But we’ll keep you updated. Billboard has not confirmed when, where, and how to stream the red carpet via its digital properties yet, either.That said, here’s who and what to look out for. Diva Kelly Clarkson is serving as the host while Camila Cabello, Dua Lipa, Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato are slated to perform. That means that most, if not all, of those talented ladies will be getting dressed up and walking the red carpet.

Since Xtina has been streamlining her look as of late —her stunning and bare-faced Paper cover being a prime example — she is definitely going to be one to watch when it comes to her attire. Will her fashions go from Stripped to stripped down? Tune in and find out.

In addition to watching the fashions on TV or via livestreams, you can also check the Twitter and Instagram feeds of all your favorite artists. They tend to post images while getting their makeup did before the actual ceremony or while on their way to the show. You can get a sneak peek at the outfits and enjoy a bird’s eye view of their preparation process via socials.

In honor of the upcoming BBMAs red carpet, let’s revisit the fashions of the past.

NASCAR All-Star Race 2018

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CONCORD, N.C. – Kevin Harvick’s answer to NASCAR’s new competition package was the same old song—another victory in a season that already has produced a surfeit of success.

This time it was Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with a restrictor-plate limiting the horsepower and a large blade on the rear of the cars providing downforce and maneuverability.

Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was still the strongest car in the field, and the driver who already has five points wins this season added another in the marquee exhibition race, taking control of the event with an overtime surge at the end of the 20-lap third stage and sealing the victory by outrunning Daniel Suarez in the final two-lap drag race to the finish.With lane choice on the final restart, Harvick picked the top lane in front of eventual third-place finisher Joey Logano. The choice paid off, as Logano gave the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford a strong push off the second corner, allowing Harvick to clear the No. 19 Toyota on the backstretch.

“I thought on that last restart that my best opportunity was Logano,” Harvick acknowledged. “He’s one of the best on the restarts. I knew he would work with me as good as possible, because that’s just the way that most of us do it from Ford. We were able to just stay even through (Turns) 1 and 2, and I really thought once we got to the backstretch we could clear him.

I didn’t want to be on the bottom. I didn’t feel my car was stable enough to be under someone when they were on my right side. I had to take my lumps through 1 and 2 and hope that the guy behind me was still with me when we got to the exit of 2, and we were able to win.”

The third-stage victory also proved critical. In the second attempt at overtime, Harvick passed Kyle Larson for the top spot and held on to win the stage. That gave him lane choice for the final stage, and he never relinquished the lead.

“We needed to be in control of the race to have a chance at winning,” Harvick said. “If we were third or fourth, we would have been in big trouble. We needed to be on the front row with clean air, because that was the only chance our car would handle good enough. It was so fast.”Harvick picked up his second victory in the All-Star Race, the first won coming in 2007. The winner of the previous two points races, at Dover and Kansas, Harvick didn’t earn championship points for his victory at Charlotte, but he did claim the $1-million prize that goes to the winner.

Leading every lap of the final 10-lap segment of the scheduled 80-lap event, Harvick crossed the finish line .325 seconds ahead of Suarez, who came close to clearing Harvick off the second corner after the final restart but didn’t have enough room to slide up in front of the No. 4.

Denny Hamlin was fourth, followed by Chase Elliott, who earned the last spot in the 21-car main event via the Fan Vote. Jimmy Johnson, Kyle Larson, AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne completed the top 10. Kahne rallied from four laps down after contact with the frontstretch wall on Lap 56.

Suarez got a push from Hamlin on the final restart, but the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates didn’t stay connected as long as Harvick and Logano did.

“The 11 (Hamlin) was doing a very good job as much as he could to push me,” Suarez said. “For whatever reason, he just disconnected a little bit, and I couldn’t keep the run with the 4 (Harvick) and the 22 (Logano).

“They stayed connected for the entire corner, and after that I knew it was going to be tough. After that, I started just playing defense. I tried to slow them down, and I just didn’t do a good job or I just couldn’t do it enough.”

A six-car wreck that started near the apex of Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 75—during the first attempt at overtime at the end of Stage 3—eliminated the strong cars of Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski, both of whom led laps in the event.Truex entered the corner four-wide with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. below him, Clint Bowyer to his outside at Kurt Busch at the top of the track. Contact with Stenhouse’s Ford sent Truex’s Toyota up the track into Bowyer’s Ford, trapping Busch against the outside wall. Kyle Busch’s Camry also sustained damage in the wreck.

“We had a really strong race car and felt like we maybe had a shot to win it,” Truex said. “Just four-wide going into (Turn) 3 there, and we all just ran out of room. The 17 (Stenhouse), I had him squeezed down so low, I just don’t know that he could hold it down there.

“I was trying to keep the 14 (Bowyer) to my outside and just one those deals at the end of the race. I knew we had to get through that green-white-checkered to have a shot to win, but I also knew if I lifted there, I would have been the only one that lifted, and the others would have went on and passed me, and we wouldn’t have won this thing.”

Fans got their first look at the new competition package in the Monster Energy Open, which produced scintillating racing and multiple lead changes in each of the three stages. Race winner Allmendinger advanced to the main event, along with Stage 1 winner Alex Bowman and Stage 2 winner Suarez, who fell one spot short of the rare feat of winning the All-Star Race after transferring from the Open.Harvick led the final 25 laps of the first stage. All told, he led 36 of the 93 laps (with the race extended 13 laps by the Stage 3 overtimes)… Kyle Busch led the final 19 laps of Stage 2 as the only driver other than Harvick to take a checkered flag on Saturday… Harvick’s pit crew climbed the frontstretch catch fence en masse after the victory… Truex led three times for 17 laps before being wiped out in the Lap 75 wreck.

Giro d’Italia 2018

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Giro d’Italia 2018: Live stream, TV channel, route, stages, schedule and more Chris Froome proved to be king of the mountain as the Team Sky rider raced back into the reckoning by winning Stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday, finishing the brutal climb up Monte Zoncolan ahead of race leader Simon Yates.

Yates stretched his overall lead over defending champion Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands to one minute 24 seconds, with Froome’s first-ever stage win at the Italian road race rocketing him up to fifth place from 12th in the general classification.

The four-time Tour de France champion, whose first two weeks in Italy were blighted by injury, still trails Yates by three minutes 10 seconds.

Froome finished the 186km stage with a lead of six seconds as the peloton disintegrated on what is widely regarded to be one of the most punishing climbs in European cycling.

But what do the full standings look like after the latest day of racing?It may have been the longest day of the race – with an unforgiving parcours featuring very little flat roads – but no one expected such drama as the Giro resumed following the second of three rest days.

Entering the stage with both team leaders occupying the first and second spot on the provisional podium, Mitchelton-Scott ended the day with Yates’ lead slightly extended – but with Chaves’ hopes of a podium finish blown to smithereens.

A flurry of early attacks ahead of the fateful Fonte della Creta climb saw a break of 17 riders – including Mohoric – eventually come together on the 16km Cat.2 climb. Local rider Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF) took maximum points over the top to commemorate the victims of the tragic avalanche which killed 29 people and destroyed the nearby Hotel Rigopiano in January 2017.

Mohoric gave a glimpse of what was in store by breaking clear of his fellow escapees on the descent before being reeled in ahead of the next climb. By now, however, the gap back to the peloton had already come down after the early distancing of Chaves had spurred Team Sky – sniffing blood – onto the front.Ciccone picked up maximum points here, too, before sitting up with the majority of the break as the peloton closed in. Krists Nielands (Israel Cycling Academy) and Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) dug deep to keep the break alive in the pouring rain before Martin, the last man standing, called it a day with 137km remaining.

Despite coming down to 70 seconds, the gap started to grow again as Bora-Hansgrohe, Groupama-FDJ, LottoNL-Jumbo and Sunweb all had reason to help pulling alongside Sky.

And once Quick-Step threw in the towel and gave up on the hope of a hat-trick of stage wins for Viviani, the floodgates opened. Chaves led the chase in vain for a few kilometres before Mitchelton-Scott reassessed the situation and cut their losses.

With the team’s focus now firmly on Yates, the 25-year-old former track star symbolically came right to the front of the race in an intermediate sprint showdown with Pinot.

After the Frenchman attacked for bonus seconds, Yates showed his form by surging past Pinot and taking three seconds from his rivals, with his Groupama-FDJ rival settling for two seconds.

In the lull that followed, Italian veteran Frapporti attacked with 85km remaining and soon established a lead of almost three minutes on the pack.