February 4, 2014

The men's peloton during the final stage of the Tour de France. This year, women will race the same route.     Photo: Sergii Rudiuk/Shutterstock

Tour de France to Host Women’s Race

One-day event on the Champs-Elyseés

After more than a century, the most famous men’s cycling race in the world is about to get a bit more inclusive.  

Tour de France owner Amaury Sport Organisation announced Saturday that a women’s one-day race will coincide with the final stage of the Tour de France on July 27 in Paris. The race will be called La Course by Le Tour de France and will run along the Champs-Elyseés finishing circuit.

It’s a victory for Le Tour Entier, a group of racers who started petitioning for a women’s Tour de France last September. Dutch star Marianne Vos, a seven-time world cyclocross champion and one of the group’s founders, called the announcement a “revolutionary development” for the sport.  

One goal of La Course is to bring more global attention to the women’s peloton, which will compete in front of the huge television audience tuned in to the final stage of the Tour de France. Organizers predict that the event is “destined to become an iconic race in the women’s calendar.”

“This is … about supporting a discipline that is clearly on the up and has been making its mark in professional sport for many years now,” Yann Le Moenner, managing director of ASO, said in a press release. “As the event par excellence that attracts enormous crowds and TV viewers, the Tour has decided to welcome a women’s race during one of its outstanding stages, in an event that will have maximum exposure.”

More details will be announced about the race later this spring. 

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Tesla's Model S arrives in New York City.     Photo: Tesla

Tesla's Model S Completes Cross-Country Run

Soothing fears over battery range

Two of Tesla Motors' Model S vehicles arrived safely in New York after setting out from Los Angeles a mere 76 hours earlier. CEO Elon Musk triumphantly tweeted the vehicles' safe arrival on Sunday morning.

Relying on Tesla's network of Supercharger stations, the vehicles blasted through heavy snow, driving rain, and even a sandstorm, arriving at New York's City Hall at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. The journey was part of an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the lowest charge time for an electric vehicle crossing the United States.

Tesla's Model S got off to a rough start last year after John Broder of the New York Times wrote a scathing and controversial review of the electric vehicle, claiming its battery life was poor and that it underperformed in cold weather. Tesla later disputed the review, saying that the car's data logs did not support Broder's account of his journey in the vehicle along I-95.

The NYT's public editor Margaret Sullivan later reprimanded Broder in a column, saying that, "[He] left himself open to valid criticism by taking what seem to be casual and imprecise notes along the journey, unaware that his every move was being monitored."

Read more about Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his quest to reshape America.

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Scientists have shed new light on the effects of concussions.     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Concussions Change Brain Structure

Study of hockey players reveals permanent alterations to brain

Concussions don't just shake up the brain, according to new research published in the Journal of Neurosurgery. After studying Canadian hockey players, scientists have determined that concussion patients experience acute microstructural changes in their brains.

As the New York Times reports, physicians observed 45 male and female Canadian collegiate hockey players during the 2011–2012 season. MRI scans of players who suffered concussions revealed microscopic white matter and inflammation in the brain. The microscopic white matter appeared drastically different from the white matter of patients with no concussion history.

Researchers say their findings could indicate microhemorrhaging, neural injury, or other responses to brain trauma, but caution that studies on larger populations of athletes are needed to validate their findings.

However, the study confirmed that concussions in hockey are three to five times higher than previously believed.

"How many more studies do we need before we realize significant changes are needed in the way we play the game?" said Paul Echlin, a sports concussion specialist who helped conduct the study. "We have to look seriously at the structure of the games our children play. We have to protect our children's brains."

For more about concussions, read our December feature about brain injuries.

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    Photo: Getty Images

Obama Could Declare 500,000-Plus Acres Protected

Areas in New Mexico and California to become national monuments

In January, the White House issued a report showing that 7.3 million acres of federal land have been leased for oil and gas drilling as of December, while 2.9 million acres have been permanently protected. Seems disproportionate.

On Sunday, however, the Washington Post reported that in a bold move that might change America’s public land policy, the Obama administration, using its executive authority over Congress, is preparing to designate more than 500,000 of acres in New Mexico and California as off-limits to development.

The first site is the 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region near Las Cruces, New Mexico—twice the size of the largest national monument established by Obama. The other site covers 1,600 acres on California’s central coast.

A final decision has not been made, but many hope the monuments will combat criticism that the administration has not preserved enough public land under Obama's presidency. 

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New footage from seven GoPro Hero2 cameras.     Photo: GoPro/YouTube

New Footage from Red Bull Stratos Jump

Baumgartner’s record-breaking jump from every angle

In October 2012, Felix Baumgartner jumped from a special balloon craft suspended 128,000 feet up in the stratosphere. He plummeted toward earth, experiencing more than four minutes of freefall, and broke three world records in the process. Now, almost a year and a half later, Red Bull and GoPro have released new HD footage captured from seven different cameras during the jump.

You simply cannot take your eyes off this eight-minute-plus video of Baumgartner breaking the speed of sound in his dive toward the planet. In addition to being the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall, Baumgartner also set the record for highest freefall and highest manned balloon flight.

 

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Shaun White at the 2007 Superpipe World Championships in Park City, Utah.     Photo: Hypergene/Flickr

Shaun White Hurt During Training Run

Sochi slopestyle course claims another victim

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White injured his left wrist in a fall during a training run on the slopestyle course in Sochi, according to the Associated Press. White is not the only athlete to suffer an injury on the controversial course, which many athletes are calling too dangerous.

"It's frustrating to see it," White told reporters. "It puts a damper on the whole mood, and it's kind of like you're getting ready to do a big trick and you see something like that. Intimidating. Unfortunate. I'm hoping the builders can make some changes and the course has a little more of a friendly vibe. But I can't change the course. Just doing the best I can."

This course, which Canada's Sebastian Toutant compares to "jumping out of a building," has already taken a couple Olympic snowboarders out of the upcoming Games. Torstein Horgmo of Norway broke his collarbone after riding through the rails on Monday. After White's minor injury Tuesday, Finland's Marika Enne fell at the end of her run and was taken off the course on a stretcher with a concussion.

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