By Julien Pretot PARIS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Former marathon runner American Leah Thorvilson is just getting started on the bike at an age when many riders retire, having won an online competition for a place on the Canyon/SRAM team. Having taken up cycling a year ago, the 38-year-old was recruited via an online training programme and features in an outfit boasting triple world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and former time trial world champion Lisa Brennauer. Thorvilson, who quit long-distance running after injuries ruined her career, beat more than 1,200 women in a series of virtual rides in a Zwift Academy initiative last month.
The mark will have to be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council but Vendee Globe organizers said it was quicker than the previous best mark of 534.48 nautical miles (989.86km) set by French sailor Francois Gabart in the 2012-13 edition. Thomson, who was 819 nautical miles off the pace in December, trails France's Cleac'h by 73 nautical miles after 74 days at sea in what is set to be the fastest edition of the event.
Australian cyclist Richie Porte won the second stage of the Tour Down Under Wednesday, giving him the overall lead in the opening event on the 2017 UCI WorldTour. Runner-up at the last two editions of the Tour Down Under, Richie put himself in a strong position to go all the way and win the race this time after he took out the gruelling 145.5 kilometer (90 mile) stage from Stirling, in the Adelaide Hills, to the small town of Paracombe, by 16 seconds. Spain's Gorka Izaguirre crossed the line second while Colombia's Esteban Chaves was third.