Pogacar takes Tour de France lead with stage six win

Pogacar takes Tour de France lead with stage six win
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Tadej Pogacar celebrates as he cycles to the finish line to win the 6th stage of the Tour de France cycling race on July 7, 2022. (AFP)
Pogacar takes Tour de France lead with stage six win
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UAE Team Emirates team's Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar after winning the 6th stage of the 109th Tour de France cycling race on July 7, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 08 July 2022

Pogacar takes Tour de France lead with stage six win

Pogacar takes Tour de France lead with stage six win
  • Pogacar pulled away in the sprint finish on the crest of the Cote des Religieuses to take his first stage victory this year

LONGWY, France: Tadej Pogacar is back in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. And it’s earlier than perhaps even he expected.

On the way to his wins in the 2020 and 2021 Tours, Pogacar took the yellow jersey in the mountains, but on Thursday all he needed was the modest Cote des Religieuses hill in the border town of Longwy.

Asked about the prospect of being back in yellow, which wasn’t confirmed when he was speaking, Pogacar said in televised comments that for now he was focused on the stage win and “anything else is just a bonus.”

After an imposing sixth stage of nearly 220 kilometers (137 miles) through Belgium and northern France — the longest of this year’s Tour — Pogacar pulled away in the sprint finish on the crest of the Cote des Religieuses to take his first stage victory this year ahead of David Gaudu and Michael Matthews on Thursday.

Pogacar now leads the Tour by four seconds ahead of American rider Neilson Powless, thanks to the bonus seconds based on stage placings.

“Every time I win it’s even better,” Pogacar said. “We rode the last two climbs really hard, it was above our thresholds. It was super hard for the final climb and hectic and everything. I guess I had good legs to push in the end.”

Wout Van Aert was the leader heading into the stage and was the focus of attention with a breakaway, but was caught with 11 kilometers remaining. Van Aert dropped off on the hilly final section of the stage and eventually lost more than seven minutes.

It’s the earliest that Pogacar has worn yellow on the Tour after taking the lead on the 20th stage in 2020 and the eighth stage last year.

Friday sees the Tour’s first mountain stage and a return to a place where the UAE Team Emirates rider made his name. The 176-kilometer seventh stage runs from Tomblaine to a summit finish on La Planche des Belles Filles, where he surged to victory to take the yellow jersey from fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic in the penultimate stage in 2020.

Despite the imposing length of the stage, the pace was relentlessly fast from the start.

Van Aert, Quinn Simmons and Jakob Fuglsang broke away and had a four-minute gap to the peloton at one stage, but were gradually reeled back in. Fuglsang dropped back and the advantage was down to two minutes with 50 kilometers to go. Simmons couldn’t keep up with Van Aert, who kept his lead stable at just over a minute with 25 kilometers remaining, but the Belgian didn’t have enough energy left to stay in front on the repeated climbs.

Pogacar said he had thought Van Aert could take the stage win on his own and credited his team’s “incredibly good job” getting him into position to fight for the stage win on the uphill finish of the Côte des Religieuses.

Van Aert had led since the second stage Saturday, with a series of impressive rides and a stage win along the way. The Belgian will now swap his yellow jersey for green as leader of the sprint classification.

“For sure the yellow jersey is nicer than the green one but I’ve enjoyed the yellow and I’ll enjoy the green as well,” he said. “At the end of the day, we were only three at the front, so I was well aware that it would be a mission to stay up there till the end. But I’ve wanted to honor the Maillot Jaune and share the moment with the crowd.”


Sebastien Loeb notches vital stage win to lead in Morocco rally

Sebastien Loeb notches vital stage win to lead in Morocco rally
Updated 15 sec ago

Sebastien Loeb notches vital stage win to lead in Morocco rally

Sebastien Loeb notches vital stage win to lead in Morocco rally
  • Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver grabs advantage in world title race as Qatar’s Al-Attiyah and Saudi’s Al-Rajhi hit trouble
  • Lying second at the end of the first desert stage, Al-Attiyah plunged out of contention after three punctures forced him to wait for assistance

AGADIR: Sebastien Loeb powered his way to a vital stage victory for Bahrain Raid Xtreme to take the lead in the Rallye du Maroc, as the Prodrive Hunters dominated proceedings in the Western Sahara.

The nine-time World Rally champion won the 315 km competitive section from Agadir to Tan-Tan on Monday by 10 minutes 15 seconds from BRX teammate Orly Terranova, with Guerlain Chicherit in another Hunter completing the top three on a dramatic day in Morocco.

The result lifted Loeb from seventh overnight into an outright lead by eight seconds from Terranova, with Chicherit just 4:12 away in third place overall.

Most significantly, the French star finished the day with a massive 33:18 advantage over Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, his fierce rival in the battle to become the first World Rally-Raid (W2RC) champion.

While the trio of Prodrive Hunters had all lost ground through a combination of mechanical, tire and navigational problems on the previous leg, this time it was Al-Attiyah and Saudi Arabia’s overnight leader Yazeed Al-Rajhi who found trouble.

Lying second at the end of the first desert stage, Al-Attiyah plunged out of contention after three punctures forced him to wait for assistance, while the same problem late on the stage dropped Al-Rajhi to fourth overall.

For the second day running, Chicherit impressed on his first competitive drive in the Hunter, setting the pace on the early part of the stage.

It was then Loeb’s turn to increase the power and take the stage lead before the halfway point, with Terranova also making good progress to take the Hunters to the top three positions, before the Argentine moved ahead of Chicherit.

Monday’s leg had begun with a 119-km journey from Tan-Tan to the start of the rally’s second desert stage, which included a variety of terrain up to a large plateau at the midway point, followed by a succession of dunes.

The stage finished at the new Laayoune bivouac, located on an imposing site overlooking a wadi, where the Rallye du Maroc set up camp for two nights. Tuesday's 299-km third desert stage follows, with another two set to take place before the finish in Agadir on Thursday.


World No. 3 Casper Ruud to join Carlos Alcaraz at Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi

World No. 3 Casper Ruud to join Carlos Alcaraz at Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi
Updated 04 October 2022

World No. 3 Casper Ruud to join Carlos Alcaraz at Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi

World No. 3 Casper Ruud to join Carlos Alcaraz at Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi
  • The Norwegian is the latest name added to the Dec. 16-18 tournament at the International Tennis Centre in Zayed Sports City
  • Just months after facing off in the US Open final, Ruud and Alcaraz could face each other again in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI: Just a day after announcing World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz will make his Middle East debut at this year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship in December, organizers have revealed World No. 3 Casper Ruud will join the Spaniard in making his first appearance in Abu Dhabi.

Ruud is coming off a stellar season in which he made it to two Grand Slam finals and secured three ATP Tour wins. After reaching the French Open final in June, he reached the final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows where he was narrowly beaten in a thrilling match by Alcaraz.

The 23-year-old Norwegian will arrive in the UAE capital aiming for a maiden MWTC title. In securing the World No. 2 ranking last month, he became the highest-ranked Norwegian tennis player in history. He has nine ATP Tour singles career titles and is looking forward to playing on the hard court at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City.

“I’m really looking forward to visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time to contest the Mubadala World Tennis Championship,” said Ruud. “It’s been a tournament on my radar for some time and I know that the level of tennis is going to be of the highest quality. I’m excited to be involved and play in front of my fans over there in the UAE.”

John Lickrish, CEO, Flash Entertainment, added: “We are delighted to confirm Casper Ruud will be contesting this year’s Championship. To have the World No. 1 and No. 3, and the next generation of tennis superstars, is a real coup for the UAE capital and shows the popularity of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Just last month, these two players were contesting the final of the US Open and now there is every chance they could face each other in Abu Dhabi. That is what we are always looking to produce — an event featuring the very best.”

Ruud, Alcaraz, and female pair Ons Jabeur and Emma Raducanu will be joined by four remaining male players in the event’s star-studded line-up, with one more being announced tomorrow.

Celebrating its 14th edition this year, the MWTC will take place from Dec. 16-18 at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City. As well as witnessing a field comprising six of the world’s top male players, the two female players will face off on the opening day.


Al-Shabab’s Krychowiak voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week after two-goal performance

Al-Shabab’s Krychowiak voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week after two-goal performance
Updated 04 October 2022

Al-Shabab’s Krychowiak voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week after two-goal performance

Al-Shabab’s Krychowiak voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week after two-goal performance
  • Polish midfielder scored twice as league leaders maintained perfect start to season with 2-1 win over Al-Fayha

Al-Shabab’s Grzegorz Krychowiak has been voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week by statistical website SofaScore after a match-winning performance in Round 5 of the season.

The Polish midfielder, on loan from Major League Soccer club New York City FC, managed a rating of 8.6 after scoring two goals from outside the penalty in his team’s 2-1 win over Al-Fayha on Sunday.

Team of the week for Round 5 of the Roshn Saudi League. (SofaScore)

The team of the week included Damac goalkeeper Moustapha Zeghba, who scored a historic goal in the 2-0 win over Al-Tai; defenders Saeed Al-Mowalad (Al-Ettifaq), Mohammed Salem (Al-Raed), Djamel Benlamri (Al-Khaleej) and Tawfiq Buhumaid (Al-Fateh); midfielders Aschraf El Mahdioui (Al-Taawoun), Faycal Fajr (Al-Wehda), Lucas Souza (Al-Khaleej), Abdullah Al-Ammar (Damac) and Krychowiak; and finally Alexandru Mitrita (Al-Raed) in attack.

The fifth of the Rosh Saudi League concluded with Al-Shabab top of the table with a maximum of 15 points, Al-Hilal in second with 12 and Al-Ittihad in third with 11.


Tennis star Kyrgios to fight assault charge on mental health grounds

Tennis star Kyrgios to fight assault charge on mental health grounds
Updated 04 October 2022

Tennis star Kyrgios to fight assault charge on mental health grounds

Tennis star Kyrgios to fight assault charge on mental health grounds
  • Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law

CANBERRA: Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios will apply to have an assault charge dismissed on mental health grounds, his lawyer told an Australian court on Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared on behalf of Kyrgios in a court in the tennis star’s hometown of Canberra and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.

The 27-year-old Australian tennis star will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and dealing with an allegation in that way would benefit the community and the defendant.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December.

The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.

Kukulies-Smith told the court his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the application appropriate, citing a number of public statements made by Kyrgios.

In February, Kyrgios opened up about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life had been “one of my darkest periods.”

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.”

Kyrgios made further references to his mental health struggles during his runs to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the US Open.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s US Open title defense last month to reach the quarterfinals, Kyrgios expressed pride at lifting himself out of “some really tough situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the court.

Theakston questioned whether Kyrgios would need to appear in court for the February hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios was scheduled to play at the Japan Open later Tuesday against Tseng Chun-hsin of Taiwan.

Speaking in Tokyo before his matter returned to court, Kyrgios said it was “not difficult at all” to focus on tennis despite the pending charge.

“There’s only so much I can control and I’m taking all the steps and dealing with that off the court,” he told reporters. “I can only do what I can and I’m here in Tokyo and just trying to play some good tennis, continue that momentum and just try to do my job.”


Saudi Arabia to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at NEOM

Saudi Arabia to  host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at NEOM
Updated 04 October 2022

Saudi Arabia to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at NEOM

Saudi Arabia to  host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at NEOM
  • NEOM is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s most ambitious project under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it has won a bid to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at a planned mountain resort in the Gulf Arab state’s $500 billion flagship NEOM project.

The TROJENA development is expected to be completed in 2026 and will offer outdoor skiing, a man-made freshwater lake and a nature reserve, according to the project’s website.

In August, a letter of interest to the Olympic Council of Asia included a brief of Saudi Vision 2030, which will support TROJENA host one of the most significant sporting events in Asia in which more than 32 countries are expected to participate.

The Olympic Council of Asia welcomed the official request. The decision was made during the council’s executive board meeting and general assembly being held in Cambodia on Oct. 3-4.

“With the unlimited support by the Saudi leadership & HRH Crown Prince to the sport sector we are proud to announce we have won the bid to host AWG TROJENA2029 as the first country in west Asia,” Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said on Twitter.

NEOM is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s most ambitious project under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan to reduce reliance on oil and transform the economy, including by developing sports.

NEOM, a 26,500-square-kilometer high-tech development on the Red Sea, will include zero-carbon city The Line, as well as industrial and logistics areas.

Saudi Arabia will be the first West Asian nation to host the Asian Winter Games.

with Reuters

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