Gerrans wins on Australia Day, Slagter takes lead

Updated 26 January 2013
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Gerrans wins on Australia Day, Slagter takes lead

ADELAIDE, Australia: Local hero Simon Gerrans celebrated Australia’s national day in style with a thrilling win in the fifth stage of the Tour Down Under on Saturday.
Gerrans flashed home to edge out Dutchman Tom-Jelte Slagter, who seized the overall lead from Welshman Geraint Thomas with another superb ride.
Gerrans, the 2012 champion from Australian team Orica GreenEDGE, sent the huge crowd at the finish line on top of Old Willunga Hill into raptures as he passed Slagter with 200 meters to go and held on to win his first stage of the week.
Slagter’s second place was enough to see the Blanco Pro Cycling rider take the ochre leader’s jersey from Thomas, who was well in contention until he ran out of steam 600 meters from the finish line.
Thomas slipped back to 17th place, 28 seconds behind the Dutchman, and now lies in fifth place in the general classification, well out of contention for overall honors with only Sunday’s 90-kilometer (56 miles) stage on the Adelaide street circuit remaining.
Slagter, 23, had celebrated his first win as a professional when he won Wednesday’s second stage to Stirling.
He is now almost certain to be crowned overall winner when the race finishes on Sunday, giving Blanco, formerly known as Rabobank, a win in their first race as a new team.
“This whole week has been amazing for all the team — the first win for me and today I can hang this (ochre) jersey around my shoulders, it’s amazing,” he said.
Slagter said he hoped the success would help attract a new sponsor, following Rabobank’s decision to withdraw funding in the wake of doping scandals.
“For everyone it’s the first race so to go home with the stage win and hopefully the general, it’s the best start you can have,” he said.
“This is the best way to show to the Dutch people and the world how nice cycling can be and what we can do.
“I’m proud of the team and I hope we can find a new sponsor.”
Saturday’s 151.5-kilometer stage from McLaren Vale to the top of Old Willunga Hill saw the riders complete three circuits around Aldinga Beach before two climbs up the infamous Category One hill.
A group of seven broke away on the first of the three beach circuits and at one stage had opened a gap of over four minutes.
But the peloton picked up the pace and gathered them in right at the start of the first climb up Old Willunga.
Movistar’s Eros Capecchi and Jose Herrada Lopez then attacked on the hill along with AG2R La Mondiale’s Guillaume Bonnafond, and they were soon joined by Jurgen Roelandts from Lotto Belisol.
The four riders crossed the top of the hill 300 meters ahead of the peloton and opened a slight lead on the last circuit before the final climb.
However, the peloton closed again and the race was back together at the bottom of the hill, when the final attacks began.
Swiss rider Steve Morabito (BMC Racing), Portugal’s Tiago Machado (RadioShack Leopard) and German Bert Grabsch (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) opened a small break, before Machado tried to go on his own.
With 800 meters to go Gerrans flew from the front of the peloton and passed Machado, only for Slagter to go past them both, leaving a spent Thomas in his wake.
However, Gerrans stayed on Slagter’s wheel and delighted the fans when he overtook the young Dutchman.
“I’ve been really struggling with my asthma and today was the first day that my chest was clear,” Gerrans said.


Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

Updated 22 June 2018
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Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

  • Saudi Arabia's 1996 Asian Cup-winning coach Nelo Vingada backs Pizzi to lead side into next year's Asian Cup.
  • Green Falcons face Egypt on Monday with both looking to land their first point in Russia.

MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s 1996 Asian Cup-winning boss Nelo Vingada has called on the country’s football authorities to keep faith with head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi despite a disappointing showing in Russia.
The Green Falcons still have to face Egypt in the final match of Group A, but have already been eliminated following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Russia in the opening game on June 14 in Moscow and a 1-0 loss to Uruguay five days later in Rostov.
 “I was expecting a little more from Saudi Arabia to be honest,” Vingada told Arab News.
“In the first game they were disappointing but a first game of the World Cup is always hard and especially when it is the first game and everyone is watching. Plenty of teams at the World Cup did not play well in the first game.
“But playing Russia in Russia and to lose is what you would normally expect from Saudi Arabia and while it was far from positive, people should not get carried away.
“The game with Uruguay was much improved in terms of organization and defense and it showed more of the character of the Saudi Arabia team.”
In the past, coaches have been axed following disappointing World Cup campaigns but with the 2019 Asian Cup just seven months away, the Portuguese tactician would prefer to see some stability rather than yet another new man in the dugout.
 “The Asian Cup is in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be one of the contenders,” Vingada said. “It is better to stay with the same coach. He has a vision of how he wants the team to play and he now knows the players and the players know him.”
Constant changing has not helped Saudi Arabia in the past and Pizzi himself has been in the job just seven months.
“The problem is not the coach. He should not be changed, that has happened before but results did not improve, but the mentality has to change.”
Despite that Vingada, who has coached 
Egyptian club giants Zamalek and the country’s Under-23 team, believes that the Pharaohs, also eliminated, will prevail when the two regional rivals meet on Monday in Volgograd.
 “This is an important game for pride, the players and the countries. It is still the World Cup. Egypt have a little more quality I think and have Mohamed Salah too.” 
The Liverpool striker has been recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in late May and missed the opening game 1-0 loss to Uruguay. He played in the second game, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Russia, scoring from the spot late in the match to earn a consolation.
“Any coach would take Salah because he can win you games but overall Egypt have been a little disappointing and a little unlucky.”
The bad luck came when conceding a last-minute goal to Uruguay and a fluke own goal to get Russia off the mark. “Uruguay are a tough team and it is no shame to lose 3-1 to a Russia team at home who are playing to qualify for the next round. It showed that European and South American teams still have a little more quality.”
 “Egypt just made some mistakes at the wrong time but this is football and without mistakes there are no goals.”
Ahead of the clash against Egypt Pizzi confirmed his intention to stay as Saudi Arabia boss, looking to build on the seven months he has had to imprint his ideas on the team ahead of the Asian Cup.