‘Hunted’ Vingegaard buzzing as Tour de France prepares to roll

‘Hunted’ Vingegaard buzzing as Tour de France prepares to roll
Denmark's Jonas Vingegaard, right, waves during the team presentation ahead of the Tour de France cycling race in Bilbao, Spain, Thursday. The race starts on Saturday with the first stage over 182 kilometers (113 miles) with start and finish in Bilbao. (AP)
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Updated 30 June 2023
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‘Hunted’ Vingegaard buzzing as Tour de France prepares to roll

‘Hunted’ Vingegaard buzzing as Tour de France prepares to roll
  • Vingegaard said he was ready to renew his rivalry with two-time champion Tadej Pogacar
  • The 22 teams received a loud reception on their parade in downtown Bilbao

BILBAO, SPAIN: Cycling’s Tour de France, with its caravan of teams, media, publicity and security, was visible everywhere around Bilbao on Thursday, as champion Jonas Vingegaard prepared to start the defense of his title.

The 22 teams received a loud reception on their parade in downtown Bilbao.

Starting in front of the landmark Guggenheim Museum with the tension tangible as riders warmed up beneath low hanging black clouds with the peculiar hills straddling the horizon.

“I feel good, I feel ready, I’m where I want to be,” said Jumbo-Visma rider Vingegaard.

Vingegaard said he was ready to renew his rivalry with two-time champion Tadej Pogacar and laughed off suggestions that the Slovenian would be hampered by a wrist injury suffered in April.

“I expect (him) to attack right from stage one, just like he did last year, and I’ll be there to follow him,” said the Dane.

“As champion, you could say I’m the hunted man, but believe me I’ll be hunting too.”

The 110th edition will spend three days in the Basque country, where cycling is hugely popular and the course should provide for a thrilling start.

Stage 1 is a constantly undulating circuit of 182km starting and ending in Bilbao.

“This kind of start here in the Basque Country means the guys trying to win the race can’t relax at all,” said France’s Julian Alaphilippe, one of the attack-minded riders who could find Saturday’s opening stage attractive.

Jumbo’s Wout van Aert is another rider to watch out for on the first day.

“This is the biggest race in the world and I hope I can start it well because I know how good it feels,” said the Belgian.

Bilbao is decked out with Tour de France images on the sides of buses and flooded with local police wearing the regional red berets.

At Thursday’s reception the riders were given a taster of what is expected along the roadsides of this cycling heartland.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme described the region as “the yellow jersey of spectators.”

Local rider Mikel Landa, of the Bahrain Victorious team, who grew up speaking Basque, beamed when asked how he felt ahead of the race.

“There are seven of us (riders) from the region, the excitement and passion for cycling of the Basque people is huge,” said Landa, who finished fourth on the 2021 Tour and could challenge again this year.

His teammate Pello Bilbao, from the Basque town of Guernica, said he, Landa and the six other Bahrain Victorious riders would be doing their best to honor Gino Maeder, who died aged 26 following a fall in the Tour of Switzerland earlier this month.

“Every day we’ll be riding in memory of Gino,” he said of his Swiss former teammate.

The Tour also takes in the neighboring coastal city of San Sebastian, which hosted the Grand Depart of the 1992 Tour.

Sunday’s second stage embarks from the town of Vitoria and runs to San Sebastian, while stage three starts at Amorebieta-Etxano and takes the peloton away from the Spanish Basque Country across the border with France to Bayonne on a largely flat 185km run.


UAE jiu-jitsu national team passes weigh-in for Grand Prix Thailand Open 2024 

UAE jiu-jitsu national team passes weigh-in for Grand Prix Thailand Open 2024 
Updated 6 sec ago
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UAE jiu-jitsu national team passes weigh-in for Grand Prix Thailand Open 2024 

UAE jiu-jitsu national team passes weigh-in for Grand Prix Thailand Open 2024 
  • 19 Emirati male and female fighters are among more than 300 athletes from 31 nations taking part in the tournament

ABU DHABI: The UAE jiu-jitsu national team completed the official weigh-in on Friday night for the Grand Prix Thailand Open 2024, which run until May 23 in Bangkok.

The Emirati fighters are aiming to build on their strong performance from May in Abu Dhabi, where they won the Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championship title for the fourth consecutive year.

This championship is crucial for the team, which consists of 19 male and female athletes as it provides an opportunity to test their skills before big events, particularly the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Greece this October and Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Thailand in November. More than 300 athletes from 31 nations are participating in the Grand Prix Thailand Open 2024.

Mohamed Salem Al-Dhaheri, vice chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, expressed confidence in the athletes’ skills and their readiness to compete at the highest level.

“The successful weigh-in reflects the exceptional efforts during training camps and the athletes’ professionalism and commitment to following the technical staff’s directives. The team is all prepared to compete strongly against some of the best athletes in the world,” he said.

“The team aims to maintain their excellence in continental and international competitions and build on their successes in 2024, starting with the recent Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championship win.”

Al-Dhaheri highlighted the importance of grand prix tournaments in improving the team’s standing in the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation’s ranking. This ranking provides advantages in terms of the draw and brackets for the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship. 

Sultan Hassan, of the national team, competing in the 69 kg weight category, said: “We aim to represent the nation well and add another title to our country’s record of achievements. We have prepared intensively over the past weeks and are eager to continue performing well on the international stage.

“We worked hard with the technical staff and underwent an intensive training program, both physically and mentally. Our training included advanced techniques and various strategies, enhancing our preparation to compete at the highest level. We are confident that we can perform well and fly the UAE’s flag high.”

The men’s team delegation includes Rashid Al-Shehhi, Omar Al-Suwaidi and Mohammed Al-Ketbi who will compete in the 56 kg weight division; Mayed Al-Shehhi and Khaled Al-Baloushi in the 62 kg weight division; Muhammad Al-Suwaidi and Sultan Hassan in the 69 kg weight division; Mahdi Al-Awlaki and Sultan Al-Hosani in the 77 kg weight division; Saeed Al-Kubaisi in the 85 kg weight division; and Hazza Farhan in the 94 kg weight division.

In the women’s category, Balqees Alhashmi and Aysha Al-Shamsi will compete in the 45 kg weight division; Maitha Shraim in the 48 kg weight division; Asma Al-Hosani in the 52 kg weight class; Alanood Alhosani in the 57 kg weight class; Shamma Al-Kalbani and Bashayer Al-Matroushi in the 63 kg weight division; and Muhrah Mahfoudh in the 70 kg weight division.


DP World ILT20 franchises retain leading cricket stars for Season 3

 DP World ILT20 franchises retain leading cricket stars for Season 3
Updated 18 min 20 sec ago
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DP World ILT20 franchises retain leading cricket stars for Season 3

 DP World ILT20 franchises retain leading cricket stars for Season 3
  • Franchises had option of retaining maximum of two UAE players, with no limit on retention of international players.
  • DP World ILT20 Season 3 to begin from Saturday, Jan. 11, 2025, with final to be played on Sunday, Feb. 9

DUBAI: The six DP World International League T20 franchises have retained a total of 69 players for the tournament’s third season, which will be played from Jan. 11 to Feb. 9, 2025 in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

The window for retaining players was opened on June 1 with the teams given two weeks to submit the list of the retained players.

Among the 69 players, 26 players were parts of various ICC men’s T20 World Cup 2024 squads.

The retained players include T20 heavyweights such as Andre Russell, David Willey, Sunil Narine (Abu Dhabi Knight Riders), Alex Hales, Azam Khan, Muhammad Amir, Sherfane Rutherford, Wanindu Hasaranga (Desert Vipers), Dasun Shanaka, David Warner, Rovman Powell, Sam Billings, Sikandar Raza (Dubai Capitals), Chris Jordan, James Vince, Shimron Hetmyer (Gulf Giants), Akeal Hosein, Dwayne Bravo, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, (MI Emirates), Johnson Charles and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Sharjah Warriors).

Each of the six franchises have retained two UAE players each.

The UAE players retained for Season 3 include Aditya Shetty and Alishan Sharafu (Abu Dhabi Knight Riders), Ali Naseer and Tanish Suri (Desert Vipers), Haider Ali and Raja Akif (Dubai Capitals), Aayan Afzal Khan and Mohammad Zohaib Zubair (Gulf Giants), Muhammad Rohid Khan and Muhammad Waseem (MI Emirates), Junaid Siddique and Muhammad Jawadullah (Sharjah Warriors).

Following the completion of the players' retention window, the teams can now sign new players in the player acquisition window, which will stay open till Sept. 15.

Each franchise can sign a minimum two additional UAE players to complete their quota of four UAE signings after the completion of the ILT20 development tournament, which will be held in October.

 
Retained players for DP World ILT20 Season 3:

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders: Aditya Shetty, Ali Khan, Alishan Sharafu, Andre Russell, Andries Ghous, Charith Asalanka, David Willey, Joe Clarke, Laurie Evans, Michael Pepper and Sunil Narine.

Desert Vipers: Adam Hose, Alex Hales, Ali Naseer, Azam Khan, Bas de Leede, Luke Wood, Michael Jones, Muhammad Amir, Nathan Sowter, Sherfane Rutherford, Tanish Suri and Wanindu Hasaranga.

Dubai Capitals: Dasun Shanaka, David Warner, Dushmantha Chameera, Haider Ali, Raja Akif, Rovman Powell, Sam Billings, Sikandar Raza, Zahir Khan, Jake Fraser McGurk and Oliver Stone.

Gulf Giants: Aayan Afzal Khan, Blessing Muzarabani, Chris Jordan, Dipendra Singh Airee, Gerhard Erasmus, Jamie Overton, James Vince, Jamie Smith, Jordan Cox, Mohammad Zohaib Zubair, Rehan Ahmed, Richard Gleeson and Shimron Hetmyer.

MI Emirates: Akeal Hosein, Andre Fletcher, Daniel Mousley, Dwayne Bravo, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Jordan Thompson, Kieron Pollard, Kusal Perera, Muhammad Rohid Khan, Muhammad Waseem, Nicholas Pooran, Nosthush Kenjige, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth and Waqar Salamkheil.

Sharjah Warriors: Dilshan Madushanka, Johnson Charles, Junaid Siddique, Muhamad Jawadullah, Kusal Mendis, Luke Wells, Peter Hatzoglou and Tom Kohler-Cadmore.


Impa Kasanganay earns top seed after victory in PFL light heavyweight playoffs

Impa Kasanganay earns top seed after victory in PFL light heavyweight playoffs
Updated 32 min 48 sec ago
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Impa Kasanganay earns top seed after victory in PFL light heavyweight playoffs

Impa Kasanganay earns top seed after victory in PFL light heavyweight playoffs
  • Kasanganay will face Josh Silveira in the 2024 PFL light heavyweight semifinals
  • The 2024 PFL Global Season action continues Friday, June 28 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota

SALT LAKE CITY: Impa Kasanganay emerged victorious on Friday night as the 2024 PFL Global Season resumed from the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The 12-fight Professional Fighters League event card featured the lightweight and light heavyweight divisions.

The evening’s co-main event featured 2023 PFL light heavyweight champion Kasanganay squaring off with Jakob Nedoh. The two battled back and forth until Kasanganay landed a flurry of devastating punches leading to a doctor’s stoppage after the second round. Kasanganay continues his million-dollar journey with a berth in the 2024 PFL Global Season playoffs.

In the night’s other main event, Clay Collard and Mads Burnell went the three-round distance. Burnell took control of the action with a superior ground game, nullifying Collard’s striking advantage. Burnell earned a unanimous decision, playing the spoiler in Collard’s hometown return.

Former lightweight champion Patricky Pitbull faced Bruno Miranda in a lightweight global season bout with Miranda defeating Pitbull by split decision. Unfortunately for both fighters, Miranda and Pitbull were eliminated from the PFL playoffs due to points.

The 2022 PFL light heavyweight champion Rob Wilkinson met 2023 runner-up Josh Silveira in Global Season action. The two battled for three rounds, showcasing their technical acumen. In the end, it was Wilkinson taking the razor-thin, split-decision victory. Both competitors clinched 2024 PFL playoffs berths.

Turkmenistan’s Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov squared off with Cameroon’s Simon Biyong in a light heavyweight PFL Global Season matchup. After three intense rounds, Yagshimuradov was judged as the superior fighter, winning by unanimous decision. As a result, Yagshimuradov clinched a spot in the 2024 PFL playoffs.

“The Professional Fighters League’s debut in Salt Lake City was an unforgettable event featuring the best athletes in MMA as they continued their million-dollar journey,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “The PFL season format makes every fight a must-win, giving us an unparalleled connection to the fans while providing unrivaled action with the highest stakes in the sport.”

“Salt Lake City saw eight athletes qualify for the 2024 PFL Global Season playoffs in a night of non-stop PFL action,” said Ray Sefo, president of fighter operations at PFL. “We look forward to next week’s 2024 PFL regular season finale in Sioux Falls.”

Antonio Carlos Jr. and Alex Polizzi met in Global Season light heavyweight action. Polizzi earned a hard-fought unanimous decision. The decision ended both fighters’ hopes of moving on to the 2024 PFL playoffs.

Brent Primus defeated Solomon Renfro by submission in the third round in a lightweight PFL Global Season matchup. Primus clinched a 2024 PFL playoff berth with the victory.

Sadibou Sy faced off against Andrew Sanchez in a light heavyweight Global Season bout. In an action-packed fight, both men traded strikes until Sy ended the affair in the third round by TKO.

In a lightweight Global Season matchup, it was win-or-go-home time for Gadzhi Rabadanov and Elvin Espinoza. The fight went the distance, with both fighters trading shots for three rounds. In the end it was Rabadanov who left the PFL smartcage victorious after a unanimous decision, earning a spot in the 2024 PFL playoffs.

In lightweight PFL Global Season action, Adam Piccolotti defeated Michael Dufort by split decision in a hard-fought matchup. The victory was not enough to put Piccolotti into the postseason, Dufort however, did eventually earn his first trip to the PFL playoffs.

In an exciting PFL Global Season lightweight alternate bout, Sergio Cossio defeated Anthony Romero by unanimous decision in his PFL debut. The win extends former lightweight champion Cossio’s winning streak to nine.

The first fight of the night, a featherweight showcase bout between undefeated fighters Brahyan Zurcher and Julian Ruiz, resulted in a second-round KO by Zurcher. Zurcher improves to 9-0 as a pro with seven stoppage wins.

The 2024 PFL Global Season continues on Friday, June 28 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota with featherweight and welterweight action.


Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville

Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville
Updated 22 June 2024
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Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville

Ancer leads with 64, DeChambeau 3 back, Fireballs lead team race at LIV Golf Nashville
  • With Ancer leading the way, Fireballs GC lead the team competition by four shots over DeChambeau’s Crushers GC, with Torque GC another shot back in third
  • The crowd support helped keep DeChambeau going, and he acknowledged them at every opportunity — including at the par-3 15th party hole when he made birdie, then cupped his ear to hear the fans cheer

COLLEGE GROVE: In his first round since winning the US Open, a worn-out Bryson DeChambeau continued to thrive off the energy of his growing fan base, shooting a 4-under 67 on Friday at LIV Golf Nashville.

Meanwhile, a rejuvenated Abraham Ancer continued to ride the form that’s already led to one LIV Golf victory this season, as he grabbed the first-round lead at The Grove with a bogey-free 7-under 64.
 

With Ancer leading the way, Fireballs GC lead the team competition by four shots over DeChambeau’s Crushers GC, with Torque GC another shot back in third. The Fireballs, captained by Sergio Garcia, are seeking their first team title this season after trying for second in each of the previous two tournaments.
 
Ancer opened his round with a birdie, and then took the lead on his final nine with four birdies in a five-hole stretch. He finished by getting up-and-down on his last hole to keep his scorecard clean.
 

“Extremely happy the way I fought today,” said Ancer, the winner at LIV Golf Hong Kong earlier this year in a playoff. “Even the last hole, I put myself in a tough spot and then made a longish putt for par, which was really nice. You don’t want to finish on a bogey.”

One shot back is Legion XIII’s Tyrrell Hatton, the only player this season to finish inside the top 24 in points in each of the first eight tournaments. Hatton leaned heavily on his putter during a round in which he needed just 24 putts. 

“The big thing that I was most pleased with today was just the putter,” Hatton said. “Feel like I holed out really well from inside 10 feet.”

In solo third is John Catlin, a reserve player who is filling in for injured Crushers veteran Charles Howell III for the second consecutive LIV Golf tournament. Catlin’s 5-under 66 was highlighted by a stretch of four birdies in five holes around his turn.

No reserve player has finished inside the top 5 of a LIV Golf tournament, but Catlin, a 13-time winner in his professional career and currently second in the International Series standings, is confident he can continue to make noise this week.

“I feel like if I can go out and play my game, I’m capable of anything,” he said.

DeChambeau is in a four-way tie for fourth with Torque’s Sebastián Muñoz, Fireballs’ Eugenio Chacarra and Majesticks GC’s Sam Horsfield.
 
The last few days have been a whirlwind for the Crushers captain after winning his second US Open with a clutch up-and-down on the 72nd hole at Pinehurst. A media tour in New York followed the next day before he traveled to Nashville for this week’s tournament.
 
“I’m a zombie right now. I’m a dead man walking,” he said.
 
But the crowd support Friday helped keep him going, and he acknowledged them at every opportunity — including at the par-3 15th party hole when he made birdie, then cupped his ear to hear the fans cheer.
 
“It’s quite an honor to be out here and have so much support,” DeChambeau said. “It’s fantastic. This is what LIV is all about.”

Team counting scores

Standings and counting scores for Friday’s opening round of the team competition at LIV Golf Nashville:

 

1. FIREBALLS GC -14 (Ancer 64, Chacarra 67, Garcia 68)

 

2. CRUSHERS GC -10 (Catlin 66, DeChambeau 67, Casey 70)

 

3. TORQUE GC -9 (Muñoz 67, Ortiz 68, Pereira 69)

 

4. LEGION XIII -8 (Hatton 65, Rahm 70, Surratt 70)

 

5. MAJESTICKS GC -7 (Horsfield 67, Westwood 69, Stenson 70)

 

T6. STINGER GC -4 (Schwartzel 69, Burmester 70, Oosthuizen 70)

 

T6. RIPPER GC -4 (Leishman 69, Smith 69, Jones 71)

 

T6. CLEEKS GC -4 (Kaymer 68, Bland 70, Samooja 71)

 

9. IRON HEADS GC -3 (Na 69, Vincent 69, Kozuma 72)

 

10. SMASH GC -2 (Koepka 69, Kokrak 71, Gooch 71)

 

11. HYFLYERS GC E (Mickelson 70, Steele 71, Ogletree 72)

 

12. RANGEGOATS GC +1 (Watson 70, Wolff 72, Uihlein 72)

 

13. 4ACES GC +2 (Varner III 71, Reed 72, Perez 72)


Tom Kim builds a 2-shot lead over Scheffler and Morikawa at Travelers Championship

Tom Kim builds a 2-shot lead over Scheffler and Morikawa at Travelers Championship
Updated 22 June 2024
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Tom Kim builds a 2-shot lead over Scheffler and Morikawa at Travelers Championship

Tom Kim builds a 2-shot lead over Scheffler and Morikawa at Travelers Championship
  • Kim already is a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, though he has only one top 10 in his last 19 starts worldwide
  • Morikawa, like Kim, did most of his work on the front nine by rolling six birdie putts

CROMWELL, Connecticut: Tom Kim is looking at the long term with his golf game and is getting short-term results at the Travelers Championship, where he followed an opening 62 with a 5-under 65 on Friday for the lowest 36-hole score of his career and a two-shot lead.
Kim had to settle for eight straight pars on the soggy TPC River Highlands and still finished at 13-under 127, two shots ahead of a group that includes Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa.
Scheffler, coming off his first middle-of-the-road performance of the year at the US Open, had to wait through a storm delay of more than three hours to finish his last two holes. He made an 8-foot birdie on the 18th for a 64.
Morikawa (63) and Akshay Bhatia (65), who also was two behind, finished before the storms.
Kim and Scheffler both celebrated birthdays during the second round — Kim is 22 and Scheffler is 28 — and did their birthday damage earlier in the week with a trip to one of the Connecticut’s best known pizza joints.
Kim already is a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, though he has only one top 10 in his last 19 starts worldwide since his victory in Las Vegas last fall.
“I think the work I’ve been doing has ... the past few months it’s just been kind of like making sure that I feel confident out in the competition, not practice rounds,” Kim said. “So I think this stretch is making me sharper and more ready and I think it’s kind of time to show.”
There certainly should be no rust for the 22-year-old Kim. He has not missed a tournament dating to the Byron Nelson, making this his eighth consecutive tournament.
Scheffler tied for 41st last week in the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2, a course he never quite figured out. It was the first time since the fall of 2022 that he was outside the top 40.
He looks like the No. 1 player this week, missing only one fairway and one green in the second round. That was key to scoring because officials allowed players to lift, clean and place their golf balls provided they were in the short grass.
“Definitely better than last week,” Scheffler said. “I felt like I found a little stuff in my swing and feel like I’m seeing the breaks a lot better on these greens. Definitely feeling some good momentum from the last two days.”
Scheffler birdied four of his last six holes, the final two after the rain delay. He left his approach below the hole on the 18th to set up his final birdie.
Morikawa, like Kim, did most of his work on the front nine by rolling six birdie putts. He picked up his final birdie on the par-3 16th and will be in the final group with Kim on Saturday.
Morikawa, a two-time major champion, has been getting himself in the mix at the some of the bigger events over the past few months. He played in the last group at the Masters and the PGA Championship until falling back.
This round was largely about putting. Morikawa made a pair of birdies from the 15-foot range early punctuated by a 30-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole. His swing looks to be back to be as consistent as ever.
“I know where the ball’s going, so that helps,” Morikawa said. “Obviously, I want to be able to get the win and that’s kind of what’s stopping me from being on a great run. It’s a big mental mindset. When you know where the ball’s going it’s a lot easier to play golf, and I’ve kind of been able to trust that.”
PGA champion Xander Schauffele had another 65 and was alone in fifth place, three shots behind. Another shot back were Shane Lowry (62) and Justin Thomas (63).
Lowry hit a magnificent approach with a 5-wood on the par-5 13 and rolled in the long birdie. That put him at 8-under par for the day, with a couple of good birdie chances on the in. But the Irishman had a couple of pedestrian wedges — from the fairway, one a pitch — for pars.
And then the horn sounded to stop play, and Lowry had to settle for three pars.
Thomas, who chipped in for eagle on the 13th, had his lowest score since a 61 in The American Express in the California desert to start the year.
The signature event has no cut — the field is 70 players — and a $20 million purse.