The summer sports season is never complete without the three-week bicycle ride through the French country-side. Better known as the Tour de France. The 106 year tradition is renewed every year throughout the flat lands of the country, the coast, the hills, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and ending in Paris. But the more things are the same, the more they change. Once again, a rider from Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) won. But the who wasn't expected. Egan Bernal of Colombia exceeded his high expectation to (relatively) easily take the Maillot Jaune on the 19th stage and hold it through Paris. Whispers around the team buses had him as having better form than team leader and 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas. But who would the team protect? It never was an issue. Bernal stormed through the decisive stages when he needed to and took a 1:00 gap into the final Alps stage and could not be challenged. At 22 years old, Bernal was the youngest rider out of ~200 in Le Tour. And he is the winner. It's was never a matter of if he would win a Tour. But how many. The count is on. Bernal is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
In the last major golf event of the year (which is early for me, considering it's not August), a (relative) hometown favorite won. Ireland's Shane Lowry won The Open (known New World as the British Open) for his first major of his career and first Tour win since 2015. After two positioning rounds of 4 under par the first two rounds, it was his third round of 63 (-8) that sealed the victory. He played an even +1 round on Sunday as he still won by six strokes (none of the Top 5 finished under par in the last round either). Lowry has been trending up, with a number 2 finish at the Canadian Open, and now the biggest victory outside of the United States. The 32-year-old Lowry will not be forgotten, and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!.
In a busy time of the sports calendar, it was at team facing tragedy that won the week. The Los Angeles Angels faced the worst thing possible as a team. Losing a player. Tyler Skaggs passed away on July 1 from unknown cause. On the road in Arlington, TX, the team had a day off to mourn, but trudged through the rest of the road trip into the All-Star break. It was the first game after the break that was legendary. At home with every player wearing Tyler Skaggs #45, Taylor Cole and Felix Pena faced 28 batters, retiring 27. The one that wasn't retired? Walked. That means no hits. It was a game designed for Cole to get through the first part, then have Pena take over. And both executed perfectly. The game was never in doubt as the Angels beat the Mariners 13-0, but after a rough week, the Los Angeles Angels are the first Sportsteam of the Week!
Another week, and another woman takes center stage. The United States Women's National Team (USWNT) lived up to the billing by winning their fourth World Cup over the Netherlands 2-0, the second Cup in as many tournaments, but perhaps never facing stiffer competition. The USWNT stormed through all the best European teams on European soil. In order: Sweden, Spain, France, England, Netherlands. Outside of their matches against the United States, they were a combined 20-2-1, with only Netherlands beating Sweden, and Spain going 1-1-1 in pool play as the losses. Against the USWNT? 0-5. Led by goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who was able to stymie opponents to only 3 goals throughout their 7 games (0.4 goal average). In the finals she could not be scored upon, but really saved the team in their semifinal battle against a resilient English team that controlled the ball 58% of the time and matched the US with 4 shots on goal. Naeher stopped them all and is a worthy Sportswoman of the Week!
Round of 16 and Quarterfinals. Two goals apiece and the United States Women's National Team is moving on to the Women's World Cup (WWC) semifinal [editors note, at time of publication they won that too]. But our Sportswoman of the week has used her veteran savvy and extreme skill to score all the teams' goals in defeat of Spain and France (2-1). The first two were on Penalty Kicks, the latter two from the field. And against France, against a hostile environment. In what may have been the most highly anticipated women's soccer game in history, Rapinoe struck early on a brilliant free kick, and late on a hard counter attack. Both were needed and Rapinoe earns the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!