BESANCON, France -- With defending champion Chris Froome and two-time winner Alberto Contador out of the race, the path is wide open for Vincenzo Nibali to become the first Italian to win the Tour de France since the late Marco Pantani in 1998. The French have waited even longer for a champion -- the last was Bernard Hinault way back in 1985 -- but with three riders in the top six places, hopes are growing of at least a first podium place since climber Richard Virenque finished second in 1997. After Tuesdays rest day, the race resumes with Stage 11 on Wednesday, followed by arduous mountain stages on Friday and Saturday which will reveal the genuine contenders. These are where Nibalis climbing skills could set him apart, and give him a chance to fully stamp his authority on the race. There are five days of hard climbing ahead, starting with Fridays 197.5-kilometre (122.4-mile) trek from Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse, which ends with a huge ascent of 18 kilometres (11.2 miles). As for Nibalis rivals, Contador broke his shin in a violent fall in Mondays 10th stage and Froome pulled out on stage 5 with a broken wrist. "Im not happy about what happened to Alberto and Chris," the 29-year-old Nibali said. "The climbs would have been better and more spectacular for everyone." Nibali, who won the Spanish Vuelta in 2010 and the Giro dItalia in 2013, is 2 minutes, 23 seconds ahead of Australian Richie Porte and 2:47 clear of Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who won the Vuelta five years ago. Three Frenchmen are within four minutes of Nibali -- Romain Bardet, Tony Gallopin and Thibaut Pinot. None has come close to a podium place on a Grand Tour, although the 23-year-old Bardet and the 24-year-old Pinot have strong climbing skills. "Weve got to stay calm and study the situation," Nibali said. "The danger can come from anywhere." Porte rode as a key support rider for Froome last year on the Sky team, but now has free reign to attack. "Porte goes well in the climbs, he goes well in time trials, you have to keep a good distance on him," Nibali said. "You have to watch Valverde, he can attack at any time." The 34-year-old Valverde was handed a two-year suspension in 2010 for his involvement in the Operation Puerto doping plot, which involved dozens of riders over secretly stored blood bags. Like Nibali, Pantani was a courageous cyclist who loved to attack in the tough climbs. Pantani was found dead in a hotel room on Valentines Day in 2004 and a coroner ruled he died from cocaine poisoning. Nibali has one of Pantinis yellow jerseys at home, a gift from Pantinis mother to mark the 10th anniversary of his death. "It would be a great honour to follow on from him," said Nibali. Fridays stage will also be special for Nibali because it marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of two-time Tour champion Gino Bartali, who died in 2000 at the age of 85. "As an Italian, its a huge privilege to be asked about Bartali. I grew up watching documentaries on the big riders, the big wins of (Felice) Gimondi, Bartali and (Fausto) Coppi," Nibali said. "Theyre all in the encyclopedia of cycling. There are others like Hinault, too. Theyve written the history of cycling." The last French heyday came in the 1980s when Hinault, a five-time champion, competed against Laurent Fignon, who won in 83 and 84. Wednesdays stage is a 187.5-kilometre (116.3-mile) route in eastern France from Besancon to Oyonnax and features four small climbs. Veteran Fabian Cancellara wont be among the starters. The 33-year-old Swiss cyclist has pulled out to focus on the Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain, from Sept. 21-28. Cancellara withdrew prior to the start of the 11th Tour stage in 2012. Larry Doby Jersey . -- Two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana agreed Tuesday to a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles as he tries to come back from the second major operation on his left shoulder. 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DETROIT LIONS AT ATLANTA FALCONS, 9:30 AM (ET) Detroit - RB Reggie Bush, TE Eric Ebron, TE Joseph Fauria, WR Calvin Johnson, QB Kellen Moore, TE Brandon Pettigrew, OT LaAdrian Waddle Atlanta - CB Javier Arenas, DT Jonathan Babineaux, OT Cameron Bradfield, WR Freddie Martino, QB Sean Renfree, OT Jonathan Scott, LB Tyler Starr SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS, 1:00 PM (ET) Seattle - DT Jordan Hill, CB Byron Maxwell, OT Andrew McDonald, TE Zach Miller, C Max Unger, LB Bobby Wagner, WR Bryan Walters Carolina - CB Bene Benwikere, LB Chase Blackburn, WR Philly Brown, G Amini Silatolu, G Trai Turner, RB Fozzy Whittaker, RB DeAngelo Williams HOUSTON TEXANS AT TENNESSEE TITANS, 1:00 PM (ET) Houston - OT Jeff Adams, DB Josh Aubrey, LB Brian Cushing, DB Darryl Morris, WR DeVier Posey, QB Tom Savage, LB Jeff Tarpinian Tennessee - RB Antonio Andrews, WR Kris Durham, TE Richard Gordon, DL DaQuan Jones, CB Coty Sensabaugh, OT Will Svitek, TE Taylor Thompson BALTIMORE RAVENS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS, 1:00 PM (ET) Baltimore - CB Chykie Brown, LB Arthur Brown, DL Chris Canty, TE Owen Daniels, G/C Gino Gradkowski, RB Bernard Pierce, OT Jah Reid Cincinnati - RB Rex Burkhead, DE Will Clarke, WR A. . The 31-year-old Spain midfielder hasnt played since Madrid lost in the Copa del Rey final to Atletico Madrid in May due to back and foot injuries. Omar Vizquel Jersey . Grilli hasnt pitched since straining his left oblique in late April. Manager Clint Hurdle says the right-hander will make a couple of appearances in middle relief before the team determines whether to return Grilli to the back end of the bullpen. Roberto Perez Jersey .Martin Caceres marked his return from injury by scoring in the 3-1 win at Napoli and he believes Juventus sent out a warning to the rest of the league with that result.We go out on the pitch every game looking to give our all, Caceres said.TORONTO - Its become something of a rarity in hockey for players to be outspoken, to publically question convention, to ask the simple question, why? This goes doubly so for young players, especially those just drafted and who have not yet attended their first main NHL training camp. Speaking with Josh Ho-Sang, drafted 28th overall in 2014 by the New York Islanders, is not unlike having a bucket of ice cold water dumped over your head. He wakes you up. "The way that Im portrayed is someone whos stubborn and never changes but Im just someone who asks why," Ho-Sang said after participating in Day 1 of BioSteel Camp at St. Michaels College School Arena in Toronto. "People who are very black and white dont like that at all because youre questioning the masses, youre questioning the way things have been done. Thats why things change right? Its those types of minds and people (who ask why) that change everything, I dont understand how thats a negative thing anywhere." After a solid debut season in the Ontario Hockey League as a 16-year-old with the Windsor Spitfires and finishing fourth on the team with 44 points, Ho-Sang followed it up this past year by leading his team in points (85) and assists (53) while tying for the lead in goals (32). But despite a quick and productive start to his OHL career, Ho-Sang was overlooked for Team Canadas Under 18 team in the spring, was not included on the 2013 U18 team to play at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament and was not invited to Team Canadas World Junior summer development camp roster this year. He asks - why? "The fact that I havent been invited to a camp, its insulting," Ho-Sang said frankly. "Ive done nothing to them (Hockey Canada). Its not like they invited me to U17 and U18 and I messed up at all that stuff. I havent been invited back since my first year in the OHL in December. Its been a year and a half; I havent been a part of any Hockey Canada stuff." But he has a philosophy as to why invites have not been coming his way. "They cant invite me to that stuff because theyre afraid," he said. "If I go there and do well, then they have no reason not to put me on the World Junior team." Asked directly why Hockey Canada wouldnt want him on that team, Ho-Sang, looking puzzled, responded, "I dont know." "If youre going to alienate an 18-year-old kid, like good job. Their job is development and progression of Canadian hockey. If I am a problem child, that means they dont like problems, that they have an issue with fixing things, that they like when things are easy. That actually means that they dont possess the ability to develop and that they are just taking players to fit their role that have been developed somewhere else." Hockey Canada declined to comment on this story. Ho-Sangs omission from consideration for Team Canada does not fuel his fire though. He clearly requires no validation for his ability. He prefers to look at it, not as conffidence though, but as self-assuredness.dddddddddddd "Its not confidence, its just that I know who I am and Im comfortable with who I am," Ho-Sang explained. "I feel no need to change." Prior to the 2014 NHL Draft, Ho-Sang told Sun Media and TSNs Steve Simmons that, "In three years, Ill be the best player in this draft. And I have no doubt about that." When asked if he still feels that way, Ho-Sang quickly responded, "Yeah." "I believe in myself and I know what I can do," Ho-Sang continued. "I dont really care if nobody else does, Ill show them and thats all just a part of the process. At one point, people didnt know who Patrick Kane was, at one point people didnt know who Sidney Crosby was." For now, Ho-Sang appears to have come to grips with the fact that he seems not to be at the forefront in the minds of those responsible with building various installments of Team Canada. Hes just tired of always having to explain his omission. "I dont play for Hockey Canada, I play for New York," he said. "I dont really care. Playing for your country is great; its more a personal thing. Its kind of annoying though because I have people asking me all the time why Im not there and not a part of that stuff but thats what it is. I think the only way Id be on that (World Junior) team is if I played in the NHL, thats probably the only way I could get on that team." And that will be his goal when he heads to his first NHL training camp next month with the Islanders. While Ho-Sang admitted hes not sure where he will be playing come of the start of the season, he is not planning on sitting back, just being happy to be there. "Whats my goal? Ho-Sang said, repeating the question. "Its to be better than everyone else there. I want to be better than John Tavares, I know hes an unbelievable player and I want to push myself against those guys because thats how you get there. If Im going head to head and pushing toes with Johnny T, chances are pretty good that Id make the team." Most 18-year-old prospects will tell you how honoured they were to be drafted and what an unbelievable experience it was. Ho-Sang looked at it a different way. "Its kind of annoying because everywhere I go, everyones like oh this guy got drafted. I dont even have a name though, Im just number 28 (28th overall pick)." Dont mistake it as cockiness or arrogance, though. Ho-Sang clearly appreciates the position he is in and understands there is a process to advancing to the NHL level that must be followed. Hes just very sure he can do it. When you really think about it, his logic is spot on. To hang in there with John Tavares is certainly the best way to force the Islanders hand come September. Whether he can do it is entirely up to him, just another step along the way in making Josh Ho-Sang a big name, closer to Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby than the nameless No. 28 pick. 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