Pau, France In his final days of his final Tour de France, Lance Armstrong showed some of the old fire.
The seven-time champion, knowing full well he no longer stands above all others in his sport, fought from beginning to end in the hopes of going out with a stage victory high in the Pyrenees.
It was not to be. Armstrong finished sixth after breaking away early in the 16th stage and holding his own through four major climbs of the Tour’s most demanding leg. But he lost in a final sprint, with Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo winning the 124-mile ride.
Alberto Contador was almost seven minutes behind, his Astana team asserting control over the field. The defending champion from Spain kept the overall lead, eight seconds ahead of Andy Schleck of Luxembourg. The two rode a day after Contador apologized for the way in which he took the yellow jersey.
Stoudemire out of worlds
Las Vegas — Amar’e Stoudemire will not play for the United States in next month’s world championships because of problems insuring his contract, a damaging blow to the Americans on the day training camp opened.
The New York Knicks new forward was expected to be one of the Americans’ top players in Istanbul, Turkey, but the team learned of the change of plans Tuesday.
Howard, Heat complete deal
Miami — After 14 years, Pat Riley finally has Juwan Howard.
Howard joined the Miami Heat on Tuesday, signing a deal that won’t raise the ire of NBA officials — unlike his first agreement with Riley. In July 1996, Howard signed a $100 million, seven-year contract with Miami that was ultimately voided by the league because the Heat had gone over the salary cap.
Bulls finalizing deal for Watson
Chicago — A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that the Chicago Bulls are finalizing a sign-and-trade deal with the Golden State Warriors for guard C.J. Watson. The Warriors would likely receive a 2011 second-round pick.
Miller signs with Rockets
Houston — Brad Miller has signed with the Houston Rockets, reuniting the 7-foot center with coach Rick Adelman. Miller signed a three-year, $15 million contract to back up Yao Ming.
Matthews signing nearly complete
Portland, Ore. — The Trail Blazers have reached an agreement with restricted free agent Wesley Matthews, a deal that was solidified when the Utah Jazz did not match Portland’s offer for the shooting guard.
A source close to the negotiations, who did not want to be identified because the deal was not yet official, told The Associated Press that Matthews was expected to formally sign either Tuesday night or this morning.
‘Bama looking into possible violation
Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN.com that university compliance officials are trying to determine if defensive end Marcell Dareus violated NCAA rules by attending an agent’s party in Florida.
The ESPN report said the NCAA is trying to determine who paid for the trip. An Alabama spokesman said the school had no immediate comment.
Haden in as USC athletic director
Los Angeles — Embattled Southern California athletic director Mike Garrett will be replaced by Pat Haden next month, and the school will return its copy of Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy in its ongoing effort to repair its reputation after last month’s severe NCAA sanctions.
In a letter to school supporters Tuesday, incoming USC president Max Nikias said Garrett will be replaced Aug. 3 by Haden, a respected member of USC’s board of trustees and an NBC football analyst.
Cal star recruit to transfer
Berkeley, Calif. — California is losing one of its top recruits for the upcoming season after linebacker Chris Martin decided to transfer. Coach Jeff Tedford announced Martin’s decision Tuesday. Martin was ranked the top outside linebacker by Scout.com, recording 11 sacks and forcing five fumbles last season.
No deadline for Favre
Minneapolis — Brett Favre tells USA Today that he did not discuss a deadline for making a decision on returning this season during a recent visit with Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress.
Ex-Raider pleads not guilty
Mobile, Ala. — Former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell pleaded not guilty to a charge of illegal drug possession Tuesday in Alabama.
Torre says he’ll decide in month
Los Angeles — Joe Torre says he’ll decide in the next month or so whether to continue his managerial career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Manny put on 15-day DL
Los Angeles — Manny Ramirez is back on the disabled list for the third time this season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers slugger has a strained right calf and has been out since leaving Friday’s game at St. Louis in the first inning with tightness in his calf. The team made the move Tuesday after Ramirez underwent an MRI exam.
Yankees put Pettitte on DL
New York — Andy Pettitte has been placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left groin and the New York Yankees left-hander is expected to miss at least a month.
Serena hoping to play at U.S. Open
Serena Williams is hoping to recover from a right foot injury in time to play at the U.S. Open, the agent for the 13-time Grand Slam singles champion said Tuesday.
“Right now, we’re taking it a day at a time. She’s resting and recovering,” agent Jill Smoller said in a telephone interview. “She’s a fast healer.”
Finch retiring next month
Oklahoma City — Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch announced Tuesday that she will retire next month, bringing an end to a 10-year career in which she helped softball blossom in the United States.
Woods, Bryant tied as favorite star
New York — Tiger Woods has dropped into a tie with Kobe Bryant as the favorite American sports star.
Woods had held the position alone since 2006, but the Los Angeles Lakers guard moved up from fourth last year to grab a share of the top spot, Harris Interactive said Tuesday.
Kovalchuk’s 17-year deal rejected
Newark, N.J. — A person familiar with the issues raised says the NHL is rejecting Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils because it circumvents the league’s salary cap.