The World Cup may be over but some teams have alreday played their first friendly in preparation for the upcoming season. In the absence of any play most tabloids and the internet are focussed on the silly season. It looks like being a massive summer of transfers. But even without the World Cup there is still plenty to look forward to.
1. Golf – British Open - The 143rd British Open at Royal Liverpool got underway yesterday and it is a crowded leaderboard after the first round. Benign conditions, especially early on meant for some low scoring. Rory Mcllroy was one of many who enjoyed his time and he is the leader after the first round at six under. He shot a bogie free round and leads by one shot from Italian Matteo Manassero. There are another thirty players within four shots of Mcllroy, including Adam Scott and Tiger Woods.
Tip – A final day shoot-out between Scott and Mcllroy could be on the cards and it would be a great to watch.
2. Rugby Union – Super 15 - Its finals time in super rugby. Both games are on Saturday night, with the early kick off in Australia seeing the Brumbies taking on the Chiefs and they are followed by the Sharks versus the Highlanders in South Africa. The Brumbies and Sharks have home ground advantage and both will start as strong favourites. The Sharks lead the competition for much of the early season and while they faded a little they should still have too much for the Highlanders. The Brumbies take on the Chiefs eger for revenge after last years loss in the final. It is bound to be a chilly night in Canberra but the Brumbies are still hoping to attract a crowd of 20,000. The home supporters should go home happy.
Tip – The Brumbies and Sharks to progress with comfortable wins.
3. Cycling – Tour de France - After 12 stages the race enters the Alps with the first of the high mountain stages on Friday. The stage is typical of the first foray into the Alps with a long flat beginning and then two hard climbs in quick succession to finish. The weather in France has changed dramatically with the rain of the opening week being replaced by searing heat and this will only add to the challenge. The penultimate climb is irregular with a number of steep pitches that are ideal for anyone prepared to gamble on a long range attack (Pierre Rolland). The final climb is a ski station road and thus rises at a relatively constant gradient. At more than 18 kilometres it is sure to end with significant time gaps. Tomorrow I’ll write a review of the stage and have a look at the second big stage in the Alps that follows.
Tip – If it is a break then Daniel Navarro. Otherwise it is hard to go past current leader Vincenzo Nibali, but I think the climb and conditions will suit Richie Porte and that he can claw back some of his lost time.
The World Volleyball League is currently underway in Florence, Italy. Yesterday Brazil and Italy secured their passage to the semi-finals. Italy did so with-out even taking the field thanks to the United States victory over debutants Australia. As far as I can tell Australia, the United States, Russia and Iran are battling for the other two spots. However I am happy to be corrected as the finals format certainly isn’t the easiest to follow!