Lionel Messi and Liverpool are among the front-runners for prizes at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin on Monday.

Liverpool are up for two gongs after a wonderful year, as they won the 2018-19 Champions League and took a massive leap towards a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Jurgen Klopp's side look set to break a host of records this season, as they have dropped points in just one of their 25 matches and hold a remarkable 22-point lead over defending champions Manchester City in second.

The Reds are in the running for two prizes in the Laureus Sports Awards' 20th anniversary gala – World Team of the Year and Comeback of the Year, the latter on account of their astonishing Champions League semi-final turnaround at the expense of Barcelona.

Among those challenging Liverpool for the former are the United States' Women's football team and the Toronto Raptors, who became the first Canadian franchise win an NBA championship.

A selection of sporting superstars are up for the Sportsman of the Year award, with Barcelona and Argentina icon Lionel Messi among them following his record-breaking sixth Ballon d'Or.

Also in the running is Eliud Kipchoge after the Kenyan became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours last October, covering the 26.2 miles in one hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds in Vienna.

Ballon d'Or Feminin winner Megan Rapinoe is among those in the hunt for the Sportswoman of the Year gong, although gymnast Simone Biles also has a compelling case.

The 22-year-old last year won five gold medals at the World Championships to become the most decorated gymnast in the event's history, and has won this award twice before, in 2019 and 2017.

The event will take place at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin on Monday. Below is a complete list of the awards up for grabs and the athletes nominated.

Sportsman of the Year

Eliud Kipchoge – Athletics
Lewis Hamilton – Formula One
Lionel Messi – Football
Marc Marquez – MotoGP
Rafael Nadal – Tennis
Tiger Woods – Golf

Sportswoman of the Year

Allyson Felix – Athletics
Megan Rapinoe – Football
Mikaela Shiffrin – Skiing
Naomi Osaka – Tennis
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Athletics
Simone Biles – Gymnastics

 

Team of the Year

Liverpool – Football
Mercedes-AMG – Formula One
South Africa – Rugby Union
Spain – Basketball
Toronto Raptors – Basketball
United States Women – Football

Breakthrough of the Year

Andy Ruiz – Boxing
Bianca Andreescu – Tennis
Coco Gauff – Tennis
Egan Bernal – Cycling
Japan – Rugby Union
Regan Smith – Swimming

 

Comeback of the Year

Andy Murray – Tennis
Christian Lealiifano – Rugby Union
Kawhi Leonard – Basketball
Liverpool – Football
Nathan Adrian – Swimming
Sophia Florsch – Formula Three

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Alice Tai – Swimming
Diede de Groot – Wheelchair Tennis
Jetze Plat – Triathlon
Manuela Schar – Wheelchair Racing
Oksana Masters – Cross Country Skiing
Omara Durand – Athletics

 

Action Sportsperson of the year

Carissa Moore – Surfing
Chloe Kim – Snowboarding
Italo Ferreira – Surfing
Mark McMorris – Snowboarding
Nyjah Huston – Skateboarding
Rayssa Leal – Skateboarding

Chris Froome will return to racing at next month's UAE Tour following a long injury absence.

The four-time Tour de France winner broke a leg, his elbow and suffered fractured ribs after crashing into a wall in a training ride at the Criterium du Dauphine in June. 

Earlier this month the Briton dismissed reports he had suffered a setback in his recovery and on Wednesday the Team INEOS rider provided an upbeat update in a video posted on Twitter.

"Training has been going really well over here in Gran Canaria so I'm really happy to announce I'm going to be starting my season at the UAE Tour next month, starting in Dubai," he said, with the event beginning on February 23. 

"It's a race I missed out on last year so a great place for me to start my season this time around.

"Thanks for all the support and see you out on the road."

Froome turns 35 in May and has seven Grand Tour titles to his name, the most recent coming at the 2018 Giro d'Italia.

Nairo Quintana is in line to compete in this year's Tour de France after Arkea-Samsic were given a wildcard spot. 

The Colombian is a two-time runner-up at the Tour, most recently in 2015, and has won both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.

Quintana moved to the France-based Arkea-Samsic team from Movistar ahead of the new season, having spent eight years with his previous employers.

The 29-year-old's new team includes Frenchman Warren Barguil, who won the mountain classification at the 2017 Tour, and three-time points classification runner-up Andre Greipel.

This year's edition begins in Nice on June 27, concluding with the processional final stage in Paris on July 19, with Team INEOS' Egan Bernal out to defend his title.

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has scotched claims his recovery from injury has suffered a setback.

The British rider was seriously injured at the Criterium du Dauphine in June, when he broke a leg, his elbow and suffered fractured ribs after crashing into a wall.

Froome underwent surgery and missed the rest of the season but is gearing up for racing again in 2020 with Team INEOS.

Reports had claimed Froome was struggling to get back to full health, with Team INEOS sports director Dario David Cioni quoted as casting doubt on that prospect.

In quotes widely attributed to Italian publication Bicisport, Cioni is reported to have said: "After two days of training in Spain, Froome, who aspires to the fifth yellow jersey, returns home. He is not well and who knows if he will recover."

Yet Froome has given his side of the story, and stressed the picture is far brighter than has been suggested.

He wrote on Twitter: "Hope that I can set this straight, I was last at a training camp at the beginning of December. My recovery is going well and I will be heading to my next training camp on Thursday. Onward."

Froome, who will turn 35 in May, last won a Grand Tour event when taking victory at the 2018 Giro d'Italia. His Tour de France triumphs came in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, while he also has two wins at the Vuelta a Espana on his impressive list of honours.

As well as returning to the saddle for the annual major events on the cycling calendar, including the Tour in June and July, Froome is also hoping to ride for Great Britain at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year.

He was one of several riders to take an opportunity in October to visit the route for the Olympic road race, which includes climbs on the lower slopes of Mount Fuji.

Trinidad & Tobago have been stripped of two Pan American Games 2019 medals after Pan Am Sports revealed in a press release that two of the country’s cyclists tested positive for drugs during the Lima, Peru event.

T&T won three medals at the Pan Am games but may now have to return its team cycling gold and an individual cycling medal, with Nicholas Paul’s individual sprint gold the only accolade that remains.

According to reports, T&T have hit back at the Pan Am Games, saying the organisers have breached confidentiality protocol in announcing the decision to rescind the gold medals and had already put the matter before a judiciary panel.

"The information put out by Pan American Sports is currently being challenged by Trinidad and Tobago. Any discussion of reallocation of medals is premature due to the number of things currently being ventilated," said T&T’s team lawyer Tyrone Marcus.

However, Pan Am Sports Secretary-General, Ivar Sisniega insists that no protocols were breached and remained confident that his organisation’s ruling would be allowed to stand.

“We have been very careful with the issue of doping at the Pan American Games of Lima 2019, respecting all the corresponding protocols and processes. After our executive committee meeting, we have officially approved the decisions of the disciplinary commission and the respective disqualifications of the athletes involved, and this has generated the changes we are reporting today. With this, we close the medal table of our Games,” said Sisniega.  

Team Jumbo-Visma have announced their 2020 Tour de France squad six months early, with new signing Tom Dumoulin leading an outfit hunting the yellow jersey.

Jumbo-Visma presented their line-up for the new season on Friday, naming a team for the Tour, which does not begin until June 27.

Dumoulin, who has switched from Team Sunweb, is one of three leaders in France, alongside Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk.

"The goal is definitely to win the Tour," Dumoulin said. "Full on, with three leaders. It was very nice to find out that all three of us are on the same page."

The Dutchman won the general classification at the Giro d'Italia in 2017, collecting nine Grand Tour stage wins across an impressive career.

Roglic claimed the Vuelta a Espana GC in 2019, while Kruijswijk was third behind Team INEOS pair Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas at the Tour.

"Our goal is to win the Tour. I want to be part of that," Roglic said. "I definitely want to be in that team."

Kruijswijk added: "We want to win the Tour as a team. You do that with the strongest riders possible. Look at who we can line up, with Tom, Primoz and myself as leaders. I think we can fight with these guys."

The shift in focus towards the GC means star sprinter Dylan Groenewegen will not enter the Tour, where he has four stage wins.

The 26-year-old will instead target success at the Giro and Vuelta, saying: "You prefer to ride all three Grand Tours every year, but I also have to look at what suits me best.

"Where do I have the best chances? There are a lot of chances in the opening stages of the Giro. We pretty quickly realised that I should ride the Giro.

"And the Vuelta, starting in the Netherlands. Four years ago, I joined the team, and then I said that I want to win [stages] in all the Grand Tours. It will be a very nice year to do that."

World time trial champion Rohan Dennis has signed for Team INEOS on a two-year deal.

The 29-year-old, who retained his time trial crown in Harrogate in September, described the move as "a dream".

It follows a falling out with his former employers Bahrain-Merida, who released Dennis from the final year of his contract after he abandoned the Tour de France following a reported row over his equipment. 

In moving to INEOS, Dennis will add to a line-up that already boasts multiple Grand Tour winner Chris Froome and this year's Tour champion Egan Bernal, as well as last year's victor Geraint Thomas.

"This has been a dream of mine since turning professional," the Australian told his new team's website.

"Watching on from afar, I've always been a huge fan of the team – ever since the early years. It's always been a goal of mine to ride for this team, so to finally fulfil that dream is a brilliant feeling and a huge honour.

"I already feel a connection to this team – a team that really believes in innovation, especially in time trialling, which is obviously something I'm hugely passionate about.

"I hope I can do the team colours proud over the course of my time here."

Team principal Dave Brailsford welcomed the addition of a man with 28 race wins to his name, with a debut expected to come on home soil in 2020.

"We all know what a world-class talent Rohan is," said Brailsford.

"He is one of the best and most exciting time trial riders in modern cycling and we are very pleased to have signed him at Team INEOS."

Chris Froome has undergone successful surgery to remove metalwork from his hip and elbow as he continues his recovery from several serious injuries.

Four-time Tour de France champion Froome has been out of action since June, after he sustained a fractured right femur, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs in a crash on a training run for the Criterium du Dauphine.

The 34-year-old underwent emergency surgery in France before beginning his recovery, with Team INEOS providing a video update on Froome's progress in August.

Froome, who is hopeful of participating in the 2020 Tour de France, confirmed on social media in September that he was back on the road, subsequently taking part in the time trial event at the Saitama Criterium, alongside team-mate and 2019 Le Tour champion Egan Bernal.

On Friday, Froome provided a further update, revealing he has had the surgery required to remove the metalwork from his body had been a success.

"Less (sic) some hardware from my hip and elbow," Froome tweeted. "Feeling groggy but all went perfectly."

Mark Cavendish said he has achieved a "long-held ambition" by joining Team Bahrain Merida for the 2020 season.

Cavendish's future has been the subject of much speculation since he was overlooked by Dimension Data for the Tour de France this year.

The 34-year-old sprint star  - winner of 48 Grand Tour stages with 30 in the Tour - has been confirmed as a new recruit for the joint venture between the Kingdom of Bahrain and McLaren.

Cavendish will be reunited with his former coach Rod Ellingworth, Bahrain's team principal, and joins Mikel Landa, Wout Poels and Dylan Teuns in an impressive line-up.

"Joining this team is the fulfilment of a long-held ambition for me and is super exciting and motivating. You could even say a dream come true," said Cavendish.

"Having worked closely with McLaren in the past, and seen the benefits of their technology and processes, this was an opportunity I jumped at.

"My relationship with Rod goes way back, and he's been instrumental in helping me develop as a rider and a person.

"I can't wait to join my new team-mates and do everything I can to help us achieve the successes I know will come."

Ellingworth said: "Mark's signing completes our rider roster for 2020 and gives us the balance the team needs to win. Mark is a proven champion and has a lot to contribute – both on and off the bike.

"Having last worked with him at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Qatar World Championships, I've been delighted to see that his energy and determination to succeed are greater now than ever. We're going to do everything in our power to enable him to perform at his best."

Team Sunweb's teenage rider Edo Maas is unlikely to walk again after breaking his back following a collision with a car this month.

The 19-year-old Dutchman was rushed to hospital in Milan after suffering severe injuries in an accident on the descent of the Madonna del Ghisallo during the Piccolo Lombardia.

Maas underwent multiple operations this week but has lost the feeling in both of his legs.

A statement from Maas' family said: "Edo is now fully conscious and has been awake for a couple of days, and responds well to family and visiting team-mates. The fractures to his back and the injuries on his face required multiple intensive surgeries over the last week, all of which were successful.

"Edo is currently processing the diagnosis that the fracture in his back has led to paraplegia, a loss of nerve feeling in his legs. At this moment it remains unlikely that functionality in his legs will ever return, but fighting power and hope prevails.

"At this stage no further information on Edo's condition is available. We ask to respect Edo and the family's privacy, as they process this difficult news. Another update will be provided when necessary."

Chris Froome has described next year's Tour de France route as "brutal" after organisers revealed details of the race on Tuesday.

With five mountain ranges and only one time trial - on the penultimate stage - the course would seem to suit climbers such as French riders Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe, as well as Egan Bernal, Froome's Team INEOS colleague and the reigning champion.

Froome, who missed the 2019 Tour having suffered fractures to his femur, elbow and ribs in June, noted how tough the 21-stage course was for 2020 while admitting it should suit most of the challengers for the yellow jersey.

"It's a brutal, brutal course, but good," said four-time Tour de France champion Froome.

"I think it's going to be a really explosive race and very much in favour of the [best climbers of] mountains. But I think that's great, it gives a lot of opportunities for the general classification to be played out.

"That's what everyone wants to see, everyone wants to see a big battle between the rivals.

"For the riders as well, I think it's great because it gives a lot of opportunities to try to make the race and to try to win."

In Froome's absence last year, defending champion Geraint Thomas was expected to be INEOS' lead rider, but it was Bernal who surprisingly emerged to claim a first title.

The team could have three Tour champions on the line at the Grand Depart in Nice next June, yet Froome is more concerned with focusing on his fitness before considering his leadership credentials.

"We've got an amazing line-up, an amazing roster of riders to select from, but nothing is decided yet," Froome said.

"I have obviously to get myself back to that level before even discussing leadership or anything like that.

"At least for now everything is going in the right direction, I'm optimistic."

Mads Pedersen clinched the UCI World Championship title in stunning fashion with a scintillating sprint finish at the culmination of a gruelling men's elite road race.

With favourites such as Peter Sagan, Julian Alaphilippe and Alejandro Valverde having fallen off the pace throughout a shortened 262km route due to adverse weather, it was youngster Pedersen who triumphed against the odds in Harrogate.

Matteo Trentin looked in prime position with 200m to go, but made his move too early, with Pedersen jumping straight onto his rivals' wheel before bursting off to secure a first-ever road race gold for a Danish rider.  

Trentin followed in second with Stefan Kung completing the podium - three-time champion Sagan, who had made a late push off the front of the peloton, coming over in fifth after Gianni Moscon, who dropped off the leading pack with six kilometres remaining.

"Unbelievable! We didn't expect this when we started this morning. At first [the aim] was to survive, survive, survive," the 23-year-old Pedersen told BBC Sport.

"When I saw the finish line I hoped the pain would be gone and I could do a good sprint. After six-and-a-half hours on the bike there is not much left.

"You have to be focused and stay in front. Don't get any bad luck. It's every rider's dream to wear that jersey. For me to do it now is unbelievable."

Defending champion Valverde abandoned the race with more than 50km remaining, telling Spanish media: "It's a world championship for mad men."

Another favourite cracked with 12km to go, Mathieu van der Poel finally deciding he could no longer keep pace with the lead group, which was soon trimmed to four when Moscon gave up his chance for a medal. 

Tao Geoghegan Hart came in as the leading British rider, finishing 26th, while Geraint Thomas finished far out of contention in Yorkshire.

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