• Froome close to tasting Champagne as Tour winner: LE GRAND-BORNAND, France (AP) — Chris Froome can already taste the champagne and has only one more day of climbing remaining before mounting the Champs-Elysees podium steps as Britain’s second consecutive Tour de France winner.
The race leader preserved his comfortable five-minute-plus lead over two-time former champion Alberto Contador on Friday’s rainy 19th stage featuring four big climbs and one hair-raisingly fast descent.
Rui Costa won it with a solo breakaway on the final ascent. Froome braced himself for a big Contador attack that never materialized on any of the climbs, nor in the long downhill to the finish line on increasingly wet roads.
“I certainly feel a big sigh of relief,” Froome said. “Today was a day I was nervous about, happy to put it behind us.”
Contador is 5:11 behind and has only Saturday’s final mountain stage in which to do that, since Sunday’s 21st and last stage is largely processional.
• 2 indicted for threatening Tygart: DENVER (AP) — Two people have been charged with directing threats toward U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart in the aftermath of USADA’s decision to strip cyclist Lance Armstrong of his Tour de France titles.
One indictment, unsealed Thursday, alleges Gerrit Keats of Clearwater, Fla., threatened Tygart via interstate communication in October.
The other indictment remains under seal in Salt Lake City. Both suspects are scheduled to make initial appearances in federal court in Denver on July 29.
Making threats via interstate commerce carries up to a five-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.
USADA chairman Edwin Moses released a statement thanking the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office for pursuing the case.
Shortly after Armstrong said last August he wasn’t going to fight the USADA sanctions for doping, Tygart revealed he had received death threats.
• Lakers hire former player Mark Madsen as coach: EL SEGUNDO (AP) — It didn’t take long for the Los Angeles Lakers to promote Mark Madsen.
The former Stanford player who was part of the Lakers’ NBA champion teams in 2001 and ‘02 was hired as the team’s player development coach, along with Larry Lewis.
In May, Madsen was hired to coach the Los Angeles D-Fenders this season. Instead, he will help Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who says Madsen “has endless energy and is a workaholic.”
Madsen played nine seasons in the NBA and spent the last two years as a Stanford assistant
Lewis spent last season as an assistant with the D-Fenders and before that was head of player development for the team.
• NHL stars to return to Olympics in Sochi in 2014: NEW YORK (AP) — NHL stars will again play in the Olympics next year in Sochi.
The league and the players’ association announced Friday that they’d reached a deal with the International Ice Hockey Federation for the world’s best players to take part in the 2014 Games in Russia.
It marks the fifth straight Olympics dating to Nagano in 1998 that the NHL will allow its players to participate. The league will take a break from the regular season Feb. 9 and return to action Feb. 26. The hockey tournament runs Feb. 12-23.
More than 120 NHL players are expected to represent their countries in Sochi.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman calls the decision “difficult” but one that will be popular with players and fans.
NHLPA executive director Don Fehr says that “having the opportunity to wear their nation’s sweater in Sochi is something the players look forward to.”
• Detroit’s uncertainty may spare sports teams: DETROIT (AP) — With the city of Detroit facing an uncertain future after this week’s bankruptcy filing, the Detroit Red Wings are still hoping to have a new arena soon, the Tigers are defending their American League title and the Lions are preparing for the start of another NFL season.
During Detroit’s financial struggles over the years, it’s been largely business as usual on the ice and the playing field. The bankruptcy filing Thursday left the entire region a bit shaken, but the professional sports scene may be spared any dramatic impact.
Brian Holdwick, an executive vice president for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, says there’s no reason officials can’t still move forward with a $650 million plan for a new hockey arena.
• Vilanova steps down as Barca coach due to cancer: BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Tito Vilanova is stepping down as Barcelona’s coach following a recurrence of throat cancer.
Club president Sandro Rosell says Vilanova’s treatment will be “incompatible” with staying on as coach of the Spanish champions.
Rosell made the announcement on Friday at a hurriedly called news conference.
The 44-year-old Vilanova had twice previously had to take a medical break from his duties at Barcelona, once as Pep Guardiola’s assistant in the 2011-12 season and again as its manager last season.
In his single season in charge he led Barcelona to the Spanish league title with a record-tying 100 points.