The Hour Record: Anyone with more than a passing interest in cycling will know that the hour record is the “in” thing. Jens Voigt set a “new” record last year. New in the sense that he broke the old record, but only due to recent revisions to the rules (most notably the type of bike that can be used). The changes and Voigt’s attempt have prompted numerous others to consider the challenge. Within a month his record was broken by Matthias Brandle. Last week Jack Bobridge made his attempt and despite being ahead of schedule he faded badly and fell short. On Sunday in Grechen it was Rohan Dennis’s turn.

Fresh off his win in the Tour Down Under Dennis had the form and was on track early. Unlike Bobridge Dennis paced his attempt perfectly, increasing his average speed along the way. He passed Brandle’s mark with close to a minute to go and added a further 600 odd metres, setting the new mark at 52.491 kilometres. For the record that is 210 laps of the Velodrome Suisse. Don’t expect that to be the last we hear on the hour mark with Bradley Wiggins almost definite to make an attempt later this year and other cycling and time trial superstars Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara also considering having a go.

Dubai Tour: John Degenkolb looked in ominous form for the upcoming spring classics with a strong win on the queen stage, which finished with a 300 metre climb on gradients of 17%. But on the final stage he and his Giant team were nowhere to be seen as Mark Cavendish claimed his second stage win and enough time bonuses to secure the overall win. It has been a good week for Cavendish who won two stages, finished second in another and climbed surprisingly well in the stage won by Degenkolb. It is Cavendish’s second career stage race victory and with three wins already this season he will be optimistic about what 2015 has to offer. But he didn’t have things all his own way in the sprints, beaten by Elia Viviani on stage 2. Viviani, with Ben Swift acting as super domestique, showed that he will be one of the sprinters to watch in 2015. He has obviously settled well at Sky and gives them another card to play in the bigger races to follow.

Tour of Qatar: Last nights first stage had a bit of everything. Overall contenders sprinting for bonus points mid stage and crashing, splits in the peloton and some of the overall favourites losing time early and then a messy sprint where no team had enough numbers left to control the finale. Ultimately it was Jose Joaquin Rojas who secured the win, with Tom Boonen in second and the fast finishing Arnaud Demare in third. Given the big name sprinters who finished lower down in the top ten it was a surprising podium. Boonen was one who crashed mid race, along with Peter Sagan. Although only early in the season Boonen has traditionally dominated the Tour of Qatar and he will be looking to lay down a marker over the next week in preparation for his major targets in late March and April.

Herald Sun Tour: Cameron Meyer secured the overall with second place on the final stage to Arthurs seat. The stage was won by Kiwi Paddy Bevin, who finished second overall. Meyer took the overall lead after winning stage 1 and was never headed there after. It was a good week for Orica GreenEdge, with Caleb Ewan winning two stages as well.

If there was a weekend in the first half of the year that you were thinking about heading to the bush (and away from all forms of technology) whilst missing as little sport as possible then this is quite possibly it.

  1. Football – A League – After a break for the Asian Cup and then a split round to recommence the A League is back in full swing this week. I must confess to being surprised that Perth Glory are still top of the ladder. But they continue to defy the odds and their four point lead is a healthy one. They host Sydney FC this week. Perth are settled and well drilled and will be confident of getting the job done at home. Brisbane Roar travel to Newcastle to play the Jets who have had a fortnight to forget. They were thrashed 7-0 by Adelaide last time out and have had off-field troubles ever since. Their position in the A League must now be under threat and it is hard to imagine the players left can put up a fight against an improving Roar side. Elsewhere Wellington will look to cement their top four positions when they travel to Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory take on Melbourne City in the derby.

Tip – Wins for Perth Glory, Wellington, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar in the games mentioned above.

SUQ – 5 – The top four looks settled. As does the bottom three. After the Asian Cup the A League may struggle for a week or two.


  1. Rugby Union – VI Nations – Wales versus England looks the pick of the first round of games. Players on both sides have been trotting out the clichés, with one even pointing out that for all six sides a win in their first game is important. Thanks Sherlock. England are a much changed side since their last outing against Australia. Wales will start favourites at home and have had the wood over England in recent times. Elsewhere Italy face defending champions Ireland and France play Scotland.

Tip – Wales, Ireland and France to start with wins.

SUQ – 6 – It’s a World Cup year but that is a long way away.


  1. Alpine Ski Championships – Beaver Creek – The world alpine ski championships haven’t gone to plan so for some of the biggest names in the sport so far. Bode Miller is one of those who crashed out of the men’s Super G, won by Hannes Reichelt. That competition was delayed by a day as the conditions continue to wreak havoc with the schedule. It’s not so much a lack of snow but rather too much of it. Morning snow on the first few days meant that the women’s super G, won by Anne Fenninger, was the only race completed over the first three days. I believe the men’s and women’s downhill are on this weekend but tune in to your local broadcaster (Eurosport in Australia) to find out what’s on and when.

Tips – If it is the downhill look to Lindsay Vonn in the women’s and Kjetil Jansrud in the men’s.

SUQ – 8 – If the conditions allow the racing should be spectacular.

Which man. This man. Hafthor Bjornsson. Who won the 2015 Worlds Strongest viking when he became the first man since the viking days to carry a 640kg log. The weight is the same as that of the mast of an old viking ship, which legend has that Orm Storolfson carried on his own shoulders. I don’t think there is much else that needs to be said, the video does all the talking.

The Australian Socceroos face off against the South Korean Tigers in front of a sold-out crowd at the Homebush stadium.

Live updates from our Roving Reporter in the field.

 10:27 It’s all over. Australia wins the 2015 Asia Cup final!!

10:12 Second half of extra time. Edge-of-your-seat stuff.

10:12 Second half of extra time. Edge-of-your-seat stuff.

 10:05 Australia takes the lead. Party time again. Great goal by James Troisi.

9:45 South Korea equalizes in the 91st minute! Korean fans go nuts for Son Heung-min. Looks like we’ll be going to extra time.

9:20 Australia with an attacking corner. Both sides with chances early in the second half.

9:20 Australia with an attacking corner. Both sides with chances early in the second half.


8:45 Gooooaaal for Australia. Great finish by Massimo Luongo. Crowd goes nuts.

8:00 Pre-game huddle.

8:00 Pre-game huddle.


7:40 The boys are settling in for a tip-top match.

7:40 The boys are settling in for a tip-top match.


7:30 Seats found. Crowd building.

7:30 Seats found. Crowd building.


  1. Football – Asian Cup final (Sydney) – Australia versus South Korea – Hosts Australia progressed to the final against South Korea with a strong opening burst that caught the UAE cold. Two goals in the opening fifteen minutes were the difference, with the UAE unable to break down a stubborn Australian defence over the following 75 minutes. Australia’s goalscorers were two defenders, with Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson finding the back of the next with head and foot respectively. While Australia started very well they looked flatter the longer the game progressed and were actually pretty uninspiring in the second half. Coach Ange Postecoglu was bullish about the result afterwards but he will know they must play better if they are to beat an incredibly well-drilled South Korean side. South Korea defeated Australia 1-0 in the group stage, however both sides rested a number of players on that occasion as they had already secured qualification from the group phase. Ivan Franjic is an injury doubt for Australia and his absence would be a blow as they lack cover at right back. He and Davidson have been very good in the full back slots all tournament, providing support and width in attack. But they have looked vulnerable at times due to the space left behind in the hole. Their performances, assuming Franjic plays, will go a long way to determining the result of the final.

Tip – Australia to win on the back of home crowd support. 2-1 in extra time. Massimo Luongo to cap a great tournament with a man of the match display.

SUQ – 10 – Arguably the biggest football match ever played in Australia.


  1. Tennis – Australian Open (Melbourne) – On the women’s side the number 1 and 2 seeds will face off in a dream final. Serena Williams has been largely untroubled, pushed to three sets only a couple of times. Maria Sharapova has improved over the course of the tournament and after being down match points in her second round match has crushed her opposition in the last two matches. Williams has a formidable record against Sharapova, having not lost to her in their last fifteen meetings spanning an incredible eleven years. That includes six wins in finals. Sharapova owes Williams and the time is nigh. Andy Murray withstood a first set barrage from Thomas Berdych last night to prevail in four sets. He played some quite marvellous tennis in the middle two sets and will line up in his fourth Australian Open final (though he is yet to win one) against the winner of tonight’s second semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka. The two have engaged in epic battles over the last two years in Melbourne, splitting their matches, and there is no reason to think this time will be any different. This years Australian Open hasn’t been a great vintage, with few if any long classic matches that will live in the memory. But that could all change with the final three singles matches. The stage is set.

Tip – Williams and Djokovic are both short priced favourites. I think there will be at least one upset, maybe two, and would like to see Sharapova and Murray break their respective droughts.

SUQ – 9 – A weekend of tennis action with loads of potential.


  1. Handball – World Championships (Qatar) – The world handball championships have reached the semi-finals stage. The pick of the quarter-final action was a hard-fought 25-24 win for Spain over Denmark, with Spanish playmaker Joan Canellas scoring the winner with a mere two seconds left. France continued to impress with a resounding 32-23 win over Slovenia, while Poland defeated Croatia 24-22. The fourth semi-finalist will be Qatar after their dream run continued with a two-goal win over Germany. Qatar will now take on Poland in one semi-final, with European powerhouses France and Spain clashing in the other.

Tips – Favourites France to beat Qatar in the final.

SUQ – 7 – The home sides run has been the story of the tournament so far. How long can it last………


Note that the alpine world ski championships kick off in Beaver Creek, Vail next week and run for two weeks (finishing on Sunday 15 February). The ladies’ Super G is the first event on the calendar, followed by the men’s.

A quick quarter-final recap:

South Korea versus Uzbekistan – The first quarter-final set the scene for the others with a cagey encounter. The sides couldn’t be separated in normal time but South Korea took control in extra time to secure a 2-0 win and progression to the semi-finals.

Iran versus Iraq – The pick of the four quarter-finals had everything. Canberrans turned out en masse to create a wonderful atmosphere and the play certainly lived up to it. 1-1 after 90 minutes became 2-2 after the first half of extra time and 3-3 after the second, with ten-man Iran twice coming from behind. The fact they were down to ten men was the only blight on the game, with the dismissal quite simply wrong. It was a terrible decision and the referee and his assistants should not be seen again in the competition as a result. Much like the preceding 120 minutes the penalty shoot-out went both ways, before Iraq finally prevailed 7-6.

Australia versus China – Australia looked the better side in the opening stages but couldn’t prize open the compact Chinese defence. When they did early in the second half there was no surprise as to who was the scorer. Tim Cahill defied age and a crowded penalty box to deftly execute an overhead kick that gave Australia the lead. His second, which wrapped up the game from Australia, was typical Cahill as he rose majestically between two taller defenders to power in a header from a Matthew Leckie cross.

Japan versus UAE – Japan were heavily favoured but found themselves behind early on to a well taken goal from Ali Ahmed Mabkhout. From then on Japan dominated, but it took them until the 81st minute to find an equaliser through Gaku Shibasaki. Japan were the pre-tournament favourites and had maintained that status with impressive early performances but despite solid lead up play they were unable to find the back of the net. Ultimately the match was decided via a penalty shoot-out, with Japan unable to recover from star striker Keisuke Honda’s opening miss. Japan, winners of three of the last four Asian cups, were left to rue their profligacy in front of goal and failure to take one of the myriad of chances that came their way during the 120 minutes of action.


The semi-finals:

South Korea versus Iraq – South Korea were heavily favoured to defeat Iraq and a goal in each half proved enough. Lee Jung-Hyup and Kim Young-Gwon were the scorers, with the South Koreans showing that little  bit more class and polish in front of goal. It was yet another clean sheet for the South Koreans, who have built their charge to the final on the back of a tight defense. Incredibly they are yet to concede a goal in the tournament after five games. The South Koreans are well-drilled and while they may not have shown the flair and attacking intent of others they have been obstinate and strong at the back. These are two qualities that will stand them in good stead regardless of who their opponents are in the final.

Australia versus UAE – Australia would have expected to be facing Japan but the UAE’s surprise quarter-final win throws up a completely different challenge for the hosts. And while they would never say publicly, Australia will be far happier to be facing the UAE rather than Japan, their conquerors at the last Asian Cup. Australia are likely to enjoy long periods of possession against a UAE side that will look to sit deep, soak up pressure and then score on the break. For Australia Tim Cahill will, yet again, be crucial. Both as a goal scorer and as a creator. Matthew Lecki and Robbie Kruse will have plenty of space to exploit if the UAE defence is attracted to Cahill and they have the pace and skill to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise. In the middle of the park Ange Postecoglou, the Australian coach, has a selection dilemma. Mark Breciano was surprisingly thrown in against China and while he was serviceable he may not retain his starting birth. At the back Australia will be strengthened by the return of Matthew Spiranovic in place of Alex Wilkinson. Massimo Luongo has been one of stars of the tournament so far and his energy and surging runs from midfield are crucial to the Socceroos. Look for him to have another big game as Australia win through to play South Korea in Saturday’s final.



  1. Sailing – Volvo Ocean Race – Leg 3 – With the leader now less than 1000 nautical miles from Sanya, China, it’s a good time to look at how the third leg is panning out. Boats have rounded Singapore, exiting the restrictions of the shipping channels, and are now in the final stretch of a technical leg that has been dominated by Dongfeng Race Team. But the last few days have seen their gap reduced and while it remains unlikely that Dongfeng will be caught anything can happen. Behind is a fascinating battle, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team Alvimedica, Team Brunel and MAPFRE (current running order) separated by ten nautical miles. These four have remained in close proximity throughout the leg, closely watching and marking each other’s moves. The all-female Team SCA is currently in last and will be looking to capitalise on any games between those in front.

Tip – Dongfeng to lead them home with MAPFRE winning the tactical battle for second.

SUQ – 6 – Followed from afar but a race that captivates the imagination.


  1.  Cricket – Big Bash League – Semi-finals – Adelaide Strikers versus Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers versus Melbourne Stars (home team’s first, final to be held in Canberra on Wednesday 28th January) – The Strikers and Scorchers have set the benchmarks all season and surpassed the standard. The Sixers and Stars sure showed sensational success from seemingly insurmountable situations in their season-summarising fixture and will be slam-packed full of self-assurance subsequently. All four sides are spoiled for match successes and superior ball strikers, which makes selecting a star somewhat sticky.

Tip – The Sydney Sixers to play the Perth Scorchers in the final, with the Scorchers securing back-to-back triumphs.

SUQ – 9 – The end of a great competition where nothing seems impossible. The beauty of T20 cricket is that it so often comes down to the final over or ball.


  1. Tennis – Australian Open – With the middle weekend approaching the action should start to heat up in Melbourne. Conditions have been kind to players, with the searing heat that characterised last year’s open staying away so far. The upsets have also been fewer this year. But that’s not to say the top seeds have had it all their own way. Maria Sharapova has been forced to save match points while Rafael Nadal was pushed all the way by little known American Tim Smyczek. Gael Monfils and young Frenchman Lucas Pouille played arguably the match of the tournament thus far with Monfils fighting back from two sets behind to win a match that had a bit of everything. And who doesn’t love a bit of Henri Leconte commentary! Monfils didn’t last much longer, recently knocked out by Jerzy Janowicz. Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams remain the clear favourites but behind are a long list of potential challengers. Milos Raonic and Simona Halep lead a band of the next generation who seem ready to take the next step and have both been very impressive in their outings so far this week. Australia’s hopes rest with Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and Nick Krygios. Groth and Tomic play each other in the third round and the late-blooming Groth will be confident after two fine performances so far.

Tips – Djokovic to win another Australian Open crown, Halep to win her first grand slam.

SUQ – 9 – Some young Australians have spruiked local interest and the action should get better from here.


And an update on the World Handball Championship’s, which featured on this page recently. Teams have now played four of their five group games, with one remaining before the knock-out stage starts. Six teams remain undefeated – Spain, Croatia, Sweden, France, Germany and Denmark, with the last four on that list having all drawn a game. As for my tip, Iceland have blown hot and cold. A draw with tournament favourites France was impressive and a win against Algeria expected. But losses in their other two games mean they must beat Egypt in their final group game to stay alive.