Thursday Sports In Brief
ARGELES-GAZOST, France (AP) — Vincenzo Nibali crushed everyone on the last mountain leg of the Tour de France on Thursday, all but ensuring he will be crowned champion when the race ends in Paris in three days.
On the last big climb of Stage 18, the Italian broke out of the peloton, chased down breakaway riders, and rode solo in front for the last five miles uphill.
Nibali, who captured his fourth stage of the Tour, stuck out his tongue, tapped his chest, and raised a fist skyward as he finished the 90-mile leg more than a minute ahead of Thibaut Pinot of France, who was second. Rafal Majka of Poland, in third, was another two seconds back.
The last real challenge will be Saturday’s individual time trial, but Nibali’s lead is so big — 7:10 ahead of Pinot and 7:23 ahead of France’s Jean-Christophe Peraud — that it would take a collapse for him to lose the yellow jersey before Sunday.
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins to a contract that prevents him from being traded for 30 days.
Wiggins has been linked to a possible blockbuster trade with Minnesota for All-Star forward Kevin Love. But any deal now involving Wiggins can’t be finalized for at least 30 days.
The Cavs had been reluctant to include Wiggins in a package for Love, but the team has softened its stance and may be willing to part with the former Kansas standout.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice received a two-game suspension from the NFL on Thursday following his offseason arrest for domestic violence.
Rice will miss the season opener against AFC North champion Cincinnati on Sept. 7 and the Sept. 11 game on Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The six-year veteran was arrested following a Feb. 15 altercation in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in which he allegedly struck then-fiancee Janay Palmer. The 27-year-old Rice has been accepted into a diversion program, which upon completion could lead to the charges being expunged.
Rice met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last month after joining the diversion program. Goodell ultimately decided to suspend the running back for two games without pay and fine him an additional game check “for conduct detrimental to the NFL in violation of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.”
HOUSTON (AP) — Former baseball star Chuck Knoblauch has been charged with misdemeanor assault after authorities in Houston say he hit and pushed his ex-wife.
Knoblauch was released on $10,000 bond. His first court date is set for July 30. The four-time All-Star previously served a year of probation after being convicted of hitting his previous wife in 2010.
His latest run-in with the law prompted the Minnesota Twins to cancel Knoblauch’s induction ceremony into the Twins Hall of Fame that was scheduled for Aug. 23.
MONTREAL (AP) — Michael Putnam and Tim Petrovic shared the first-round lead in the Canadian Open on Thursday, shooting 6-under 64 in sunny conditions at rain-softened Royal Montreal.
Canadian amateur Taylor Pendrith and Kyle Stanley were a stroke back, and former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, Nick Watney and Robert Allenby topped the group at 66.
Two-time champion Jim Furyk and Canadian David Hearn shot 67, and defending champion Brandt Snedeker had a 69.
Dustin Johnson struggled to a 74, and John Daly had a 76.
BRIDGEND, Wales (AP) — Bernhard Langer opened with a 6-under-par 65 to take a two-stroke lead over American Bob Tway in the British Senior Open at a sweltering Royal Porthcawl on Thursday.
Langer, who lost a two-stroke lead on the final hole at Royal Birkdale last year and then was beaten for the title in a playoff, was out in a best-of-the-day 31.
He birdied the third, fourth, sixth and eighth holes, and went 5 under when he birdied the long 13th. He dropped a shot at the 16th but then hit back immediately with birdies at the two closing holes.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Yani Tseng made a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to give Taiwan a sweep of the top-seeded United States team Thursday in the opening round of the International Crown.
Tseng and Phoebe Yao never trailed in a 1-up win over Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson. Earlier, Candie Kung and Teresa Lu beat Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr 4 and 3.
The inaugural International Crown features 32 players from eight countries.
Each team receives two points for a win and one for a tie. The U.S. was the only team that failed to secure a point on the first day.
On Friday, the United States (0 points) will face Spain (3) in Pool A, and Taiwan (4) will take on Thailand (1). Pool B matchups are Japan (3) against South Korea (2), and Australia (2) versus Sweden (1).
ATLANTA (AP) — Top-seeded John Isner avoided an upset in his Atlanta Open title defense Thursday night, rallying for a 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 victory over wild-card entry Robby Ginepri in the second round.
Trailing 5-4 in the third set, the 12th-ranked Isner fought off two match points.
Earlier, Thiemo De Bakker pulled off the upset that Ginepri could not when the Dutch qualifier beat second-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 7-5 in match delayed 2 hours, 15 minutes by rain to advance to the quarterfinals.
Ben Becker of Germany added an upset win, topping seventh-seeded Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan 6-4, 6-3, and eighth seed Marinko Matosevic of Australia beat American Tim Smyczek 6-4, 7-5.
UMAG, Croatia (AP) — Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay upset sixth-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday to become the first qualifier to reach the Croatia Open quarterfinals in seven years.
Also, a local wild card, Borna Coric, last year’s Junior U.S. Open champion, beat qualifier Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 7-6 (4), 6-3 to join Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, the first time since 2002 two Croats have gone so far in Umag.
In another upset, fourth-seeded Joao Sousa of Portugal, who lost to Cuevas in the Bastad final two weeks ago, fell to Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Fabio Fognini of Italy stayed true to his top seeding by beating Albert Montanes of Spain 7-6 (2), 6-0.
GSTAAD, Switzerland (AP) — Top-seeded Mikhail Youzhny began his Swiss Open title defense by beating Kenny De Schepper of France 6-3, 6-4 in a second-round match on Thursday.
In the quarterfinals on Friday, Youzhny faces the player he beat in the title match last year, Robin Haase of the Netherlands.
Seventh-seeded Haase had a tougher time in the Swiss mountains beating local wild card Henri Laaksonen 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
Another wild card, Viktor Troicki of Serbia, eased into the last eight with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan.
Troicki is playing his first event after serving a one-year suspension for a doping rules violation, which left him ranked No. 847.
NEW YORK (AP) — Frank Lampard is joining New York City FC. The 36-year-old midfielder and former England star is the MLS expansion club’s second high-profile international signing leading to its first season in 2015.
The club affiliated with the Premier League’s Manchester City and the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball previously signed Spain star David Villa.
NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna on Thursday called the signing a “big day for us” and described Lampard as “one of the greatest players in Premier League history.”