Andersen stuns favorites to take Oman stage

Denmark's Kragh Soren Andersen, right, from Team Sunweb takes the lead in the last hill ahead of ahead of UAE Abu Dhabi's Portugese cyclist Rui Costa, center, and BMC's Belgian Ben Hermans from BMC, left, before Andersen won the 3rd stage of the cycling Tour of Oman between Sultan Qaboos University and Quriyat on Thursday in Quriyat. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2017
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Andersen stuns favorites to take Oman stage

QUIRAYAT, Oman: Denmark’s Soren Kragh Andersen won the third stage of the Tour of Oman on Thursday as Belgian Ben Hermans retained the overall lead.
Andersen edged out former world champion Rui Costa on the uphill finish at Quriyat at the end of the 162km run, with Hermans, winner of Wednesday’s second stage, in third.
Other contenders for the overall victory including Frenchman Romain Bardet, second at last year’s Tour de France, and 2015 Vuelta a Espana winner Fabio Aru of Italy, finished in the top 10 in the same time as Andersen.
Friday’s fourth stage is a hilly 118km that finishes on the flat but the overall winner should be decided on Saturday’s Queen stage with it’s finish on The Green Mountain, a 5.7km climb with an average 10.5 percent gradient.

Pinot wins Andalusia second stage, Contador in overall lead
French rider Thibaut Pinot won the second stage of the Tour of Andalusia on Thursday ahead of Alberto Contador, but the Spaniard is now the overall race leader.
Pinot, of the FDJ team, crossed the line first at the summit finish at Pena del Aguila above Mancha Real, beating Contador by two seconds, with Alejandro Valverde seven seconds off the pace.
Contador had attacked less than three kilometers from the end of the 178km stage from Torredonjimeno but Pinot overtook the former Tour de France winner with just 200 meters left.
Nevertheless, Contador seizes the red jersey ahead of Friday’s third stage, an 11.9km time-trial in Lucena.
The Tour finishes in Coin following Sunday’s fifth and final stage.


Others can moan but forward-thinking Wolves have used Jorge Mendes to great effect

Updated 30 min 34 sec ago
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Others can moan but forward-thinking Wolves have used Jorge Mendes to great effect

  • English club have traded cleverly to reach the Premier League
  • Star player Ruben Neves earns considerably less than John Terry

On July 8, Wolverhampton Wanderers signed Ruben Neves from FC Porto for a club record transfer fee of €16 million ($19.5 million). On July 17, Middlesbrough signed Britt Assombalonga from Nottingham Forest for a club record transfer fee reported as “more than £15 million ($21 million)."
Forty-four Championship matches later Wolves have won the division and promotion to the Premier League with their 21-year-old Portugal midfielder contributing six goals and being elected into the Professional Footballers' Association team of the year. Middlesbrough are scrambling for a playoff place with their 25-year-old DR Congo centre forward contributing 14 goals. Assombalonga just scrapes into the Championship's top ten scorers. He did not make his fellow pros' divisional best XI.
Neves is admired by Manchester United. He is envied by much of the rest of the Championship. Under-pressure owners such as Leeds United's Andrea Radrizzani have publicly complained that Wolves are owned by a company that is also a minority shareholder in the football agency that represents Neves, Gestifute.
Leeds have joined other Championship clubs in requesting that the English Football League investigates whether Fosun's relationship with Gestifute breaks the competition's rules. One of their arguments is that Gestifute principal Jorge Mendes' influence on Wolves' promotion campaign represents unfair competition.
“No club may enter into an agreement which enables any party, other than the club itself, to influence materially the club’s policies or the performance of its teams or players in matches and/or competitions,” read a draft letter to the EFL published last month by an English newspaper. “Given the broad interpretation of ‘agreement’ in the FA’s regulations, which can be any ‘agreement, arrangement, obligation, undertaking or understanding whether oral or written, formal or informal or otherwise’, I would invite the FA and EFL to consider whether Mr Mendes does indeed materially influence Wolves’s policies or the performance of its teams or players in matches and/or competition.”
Mendes advised Fosun on their July 2016 takeover of Wolves. The agent advised on the appointment of coaches, initially moving to secure Julen Lopetegui before the Spaniard was offered his national team's top job, and last summer securing Nuno Espirito Santo. And Mendes has worked on some (by no means all) of the transfers with which Wolves built a promotion-winning squad.
All of this is by no means unusual in the world of football. Mendes is recognised as one of the most successful individuals in his profession. His clients including Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho, winners of FIFA's world player and coach of the year awards.
The Portuguese agent works with multiple clubs, and has a history of advising owners on the recruitment of multiple key individuals. He helped Chelsea secure more than one Premier League title by bringing Mourinho to the club and following it up with the transfers of players such as Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Deco, Jose Bosingwa and Diego Costa. His work with Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Monaco led to domestic and European success.
For Mendes, the Wolverhampton project falls into a similar category. The idea is to place a coach and footballers in an environment where they can demonstrate their talent and develop their careers. Having owners that buy into this plan allows someone like Neves, who played just 626 minutes of league football in his final season at Porto and was rejected as a transfer option by a number of Premier League and Championship clubs, the platform to rapidly develop into one of the division's most decisive performers.
The approach is logical, intelligent and long-term. It has benefited both the clubs who sign Gestifute players and the players who ask Gestifute to represent them. And at Wolves it has allowed the club to build a team capable of holding Manchester City to a goalless draw on the Premier League champions' own ground then reaching the top tier itself on a controlled budget.
Neves was paid a net wage of €12,500 a month by Porto. At Wolves his remuneration has been greatly improved yet still falls below the club's top wage of £25,000 a week. According to a study by the Sporting Intelligence website, the average Championship first-team salary stands at an annual £631,000. Top earners like Aston Villa's John Terry are said to be on more than three times Wolves ceiling wage.
One club has got its recruitment right and will start next season in football's most affluent league. Others clubs have not recruited as efficiently and are left complaining about an “unfair playing field."
You'd be forgiven for wondering if their energies (and transfer budgets) would be better spent elsewhere.