Whilst the promised Tour update never came on the weekend the weekends duo of stages in the Alps could be summarised in two words. Vincenzo Nibali. Obviously this would be very simplistic but if you were short on time and after an update on how the tour is progressing then that would just about it cover it. On the first stage the breakaway went away early but was never given much freedom. Katusha did plenty of the work chasing to protect Joaquim Rodriguez’s mountains jersey and, presumably anyway, in the hope that he could do something on the day’s final climb. That plan backfired as he was ejected rather quickly on the final climb. Europcar were another team that helped out in closing down the breakaway, and another whose riders failed to fire a shot on the final climb. As the main group of contenders reduced in number Leopold Konig and Rafal Majka jumped clear of the goup. With both having already lost a large chunk of time they weren’t imediately chased down. Valverde’s forcing split the main group of favourites but when Nibali attacked nobody could go with him. He caught and passed the two leaders and rode away to a solo victory. Nibali is clearly the strongest at the moment but behind him are a host of evenly matched riders fighting for the minor spots on the podium.

In the first Alps stage it was Alessandro Valverde who was the best of the rest. On the second it was Christophe Peraud, who was able to follow Nibali’s wheel all the way to the finish. But this time they didn’t catch Majka. Majka lost a lot of time in the opening week and after Contador’s crash the Saxo rider is now free to ride for himself. He joined the breakaway and paced himself perfectly on the final climb to record a well deserved win. Romain Bardet and Thibault Pinot remain locked in a fascinating battle for not only third position but also the best young rider and best Frenchmen. American Tejay Van Garderen is another of the contenders for the podium. He doesn’t have the acceleration of some of the others but is able to set a steady pace that has seen him slowly climbing the standings. The long time trial still to come should play into Van Garderen’s favour and this could see him climb on to the podium.

As if to emphasis the fickle nature of cycling tipping the two riders I highlighted in the Friday Forecast had a terrible time of it. Daniel Navarro was clearly in distress when he abandoned mid stage. He was clearly unfit to continue and it was a surprise he stayed upright all the way to the waiting team car. While Richie Porte was able to continue he was dropped early on the final climb and fell from second position outside the top ten. He faired little better on the second stage in the Alps, later citing a chest infection as the cause of his demise. Stage 15 on Sunday showed the cruel side of cycling. Martin Elminger and Jack Bauer broke away at the beginning of the stage only to be caught by the onrushing peloton inside the final few hundred metres. Alexander Kristoff won the sprint ahead of Henrich Haussler and the ever consistent Peter Sagan

Rory Mcllroy led by one shot after the first round of he British Open and he went from strength to strength as the tournament progressed. Ricky Fowler was his closest challenger for much of the weekend but it was Sergio Garcia who mounted the most serious challenge. Hoping to shed the tag of the “best player never to win a major” the 34 year old Spaniard closed with a six under 66 but he will rue a bogie on the fifteenth when he took two shots to escape the clutches of the greenside bunker. He ended up in a tie for second two behind Mcllroy. Mcllroy’s final round of one under 71 wasn’t anything special but the hard work had already been done. He was 12 under before the weekend and four shots clear and extended his lead on Saturday. he played steady golf on the final day and always had at least a two shot buffer. Adam Scott and Marc Leishman were the best of the Australians in a tie for fifth five shots behind Mcllroy. Both shot great closing rounds and will wish they could have been close enough to have a proper chance of winning.

Neither the Brumbies nor the Sharks found the going easy in their Super 15 elimination finals but both home sides did enough to win and stay alive. In Canberra the Brumbies jumped out to an early lead when a man up but then had to withstand a Chiefs fightback when the momentum changed and they were a man down. The Chiefs managed to level the scores, fell behind again to a converted try and then had a kick to level the scores but Aaron Cruden was unable to convert. The Brumbies moved to within one win of a second consecutive final but in their way stand the table topping Warratahs. The battle for Australian super rugby bragging rights should be one worth watching. The Sharks had Frans Steyn to thank as his two late penalties guided them to a come from behind win against the Highlanders. next up is a trip to New Zealand to take on the Crusaders.

Its hard to believe that the Commonwealth games start in only three days. Up until now the clothing and uniforms of the participants has attracted more attention than their actual performances. It has been a low key build up with little to no media coverage (in Australia at least) but that will all change when the action starts. While Australia will be expected to win gold medals in the pool expectations are always much lower on the track. Sally Pearson is the obvious exception. She fine tuned her preparations with a third place in London. Pearson has had a number of injuries this season but says she is feeling stronger each race and her confidence is growing. Alex Rowe is less well known, but that could all change. At the prestigous Diamond League meet in Monte Carlo on the weekend he equalled one of the oldest records in Australian sport. In running one minute 44:40 he equalled Ralph Doubell’s 46 year old Australian 800 metre record. Doubell’s time was enough to win gold at the 1968 Mexico Olympics and while Rowe is still a couple of seconds off the best there is every chance he can go quicker.

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Comments
  1. Julian S says:

    In other exciting news I just managed to hold a 3 minute conversation with someone about rugby and make it look like I knew what I was talking about … I am awesome! … Where do the Warratahs come from? And why don’t have an opinion on the Warratahs-Brumbies game yet? And where are they going to play the final, against whom and who will win and who is form … so many questions!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sportussion says:

      Well played Julian, I am proud of you!

      In short, the Warratahs are from Sydney. If they win they will host the final. If they lose the winner of the Crusaders versus Sharks clash will host the final. The Warratahs and Crusaders were the two best teams during the regular season and will rightly start as favourites. But anything is possible.

      Like

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