Kristoff wins stage one as Pinot crashes

first_imgBy Julien PretotNICE, France (Reuters) – Alexander Kristoff won the opening stage of the Tour de France while Thibaut Pinot, who is hoping to end the home nation’s 35-year wait for a local champion, was one of several riders to take a tumble during a rain-hit ride yesterday.Norway’s Kristoff outsprinted Danish world champion Mads Pedersen after 156 km around Nice. Pinot trailed by some distance but was credited with the same time as the winner since the massive crash occurred within three kilometres of the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais.“For the moment he’s fine, but you always need to wait a few days to see if there have been consequences or not,” Pinot’s sports director at Groupama-FDJ, Philippe Mauduit, told Reuters.Dutchman Cees Bol finished third. Colombian Nairo Quintana, twice a Tour runner-up, fell earlier while Pavel Sivakov, one of defending champion Egan Bernal’s key lieutenants, hit the ground twice.Pre-stage favourites Sam Bennett, Caleb Ewan and Giacomo Nizzolo also crashed on slippery roads as rain wreaked havoc during the stage.Organisers postponed the start of the Tour de France by several weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. STRICT RULES The race got off to an eventful start as rain made the roads extremely slippery.“There must have been 100 riders crashing. Everyone struggles, everyone got scared,” said Pinot’s teammate Valentin Madouas.“It was like an ice rink.”The multiple incidents had prompted the Jumbo Visma team to ask the peloton to take it slow in a descent, but Astana refused to take the foot off the gas pedal. Their decision backfired, however, as their team leader Miguel Angel Lopez aquaplaned head first into a road sign. The Colombian got back on his bike.In another descent, Primoz Roglic’s team mate George Bennett also crashed, meaning riders from the top two teams – Jumbo Visma and Ineos Grenadiers – were nursing bruises after the first day.Pinot, who is considered one of the title contenders behind favourites Roglic and Bernal, sustained bruises on his leg and shoulder. The race started in front of scarce crowds in central Nice amid fears of a coronavirus second wave as the number of daily cases has been rising within France at an alarming rate in recent weeks.Riders and their staff are part of a race bubble in order to minimise risks of infections and French health authorities yesterday imposed stricter regulations in the event of coronavirus cases. They ruled that a team should be withdrawn if two or more of its members – including riders and support staff – tested positive within seven days, race organisers said yesterday.Riders, however, put on a brave face.“I think nobody imagined 2020 to be like this. But we have to go through this for the good of everyone and the fact that the Tour is starting is already a good thing,” triple world champion Peter Sagan told reporters.last_img read more

Analysis: A crucial game for the Dragons against Wales!

first_imgThe Dragons will host the internationals of Wales at the Stadium Bilino Polje in Zenica  at 20:45 on the 10th of October. The strong Welshmen will try to secure their place at the European Championship as they are on the brink of qualification being the current leader in Group B. There are only two remaining matches to be played in this qualification round so, in this regard, three points are simply necessary for the Dragons in order to qualify for the play-offs.  The current standings in Group B are as follows: Wales (18 points), Belgium (17 points), Israel (13 points), Bosnia and Herzegovina (11 points), Cyprus (9 points) and Andorra (0 points).Since the performances on the 2014 World Cup, Bosnia dropped from 19th to 30th in the FIFA rankings, while Wales have soared to eighth and are a point away from the Euro 2016 finals. However, there is a strong believe among the Dragons that they will beat Wales following the words of head coach Mehmed Bazadarevic who stated: “we have the strength and quality and we are the better team than Wales. Even though we have a lot of problems, I think the squad we have has sufficient quality to win the next two games. Wales are the group leaders and they are a good team but we will make every effort to get the results we want.” The problems that Bazdarevic pointed out in his statement refer to the struggle of reaching the play-offs in Group B and to a mini injury crisis. Most of these worries refer to SS Lazio player Senad Lulic and AS Roma star player Edin Dzeko. It seems however that Senad Lulic will be able to play and Bazdarevic is also expecting Dzeko to play against Wales. But at the press conference he added: “if it happens that we are missing key players, I think we have the power and we have to look for strength in other players.” Also midfielder Anel Hadzic is optimistic prior to the match as he said: “the team atmosphere is great, and certainly we expect a very tough match. It will be very difficult, but we are optimistic.” However, despite two possible wins, BiH is still depending on Israel who need to lose at least one match so BiH can overtake them and secure the third place in Group B which gives the right to participate in the play-offs.The Dragons will have to keep a strong eye on the Welsh star player Gareth Bale. Although sometimes criticized for his play at Real Madrid, Bale is able to deliver great performances for the national team. He is the kind of player who takes his responsibility at the national team and has led his country, in all probability, to a European Championship for the first time in its history. In terms of international tournaments, Wales only managed to qualify for the World Cup in 1958. One could say that Wales currently has a strong mix of experience and talent. Besides Bale, other star players in the Welsh squad are Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Joe Allen (Liverpool) and captain Ashley Williams (Swansea City). At the press conference, head coach of the Welshmen Chris Coleman emphasized the great position of Wales: “it’s a great position to be in and I’ve said all along that with every game that passes and every time we win the pressure becomes bigger. But we’ve put ourselves in this position so this is the last push. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of us maintaining what we’ve been doing and that’s performing.”The match in Zenica will undoubtedly be an interesting clash where stakes are high. In any case, the Dragons need three points and, at the same time, hoping that Israel will be unable to win their match against Cyprus on the same day.Written by Dustin Giellast_img read more

Wu Lei repeats for the second year and wins the Chinese Golden Ball

first_imgWu Lei has achieved one of the purposes he was looking for in his career. In the next few hours it will be officially announced that the Espanyol striker is chosen for the second year in a row as the player of the Chinese year, an award he already received in 2018 thanks to the 27 goals he achieved in the Super League before his arrival at Espanyol . Lei is an icon in his country and this prize ratifies him as the most relevant player in a country that little by little wants to poke his head internationally.The Espanyol player has imposed himself in the votes to Yan Junling, goalkeeper who even played for the parakeet team when Roberto Jiménez finished his contract, and Elkeson Oliveira Cardoso, Brazilian with Chinese passport. The striker curiously returns this Sunday to the Ceramics Stadium, where he debuted in LaLiga last February.Wu Lei has not only become the first Chinese to score in the Spanish competition, but also to score in the Europa League in a league club and to mark Barcelona in an official match. That last goal earned Espanyol to score a point in the first meeting of Abelardo Fernández and 2020. With the arrival of Raúl de Tomás, the Chinese striker will have more competition in attack, but he hopes to continue contributing with his goals so that Espanyol will achieve salvation. Its signing, strategic at the time, has helped the entity increase revenue and its internationalization.last_img read more