Italy cheers again as Oldani grabs Genoa Giro victory

Team Alpecin-Fenix Italian rider Stefano Oldani (L) celebrates as he crosses the finish line, ahead of Team Wanty's Italian rider Lorenzo Rota, to win the 12th stage of the Giro d'Italia 2022 cycling race on May 19, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 20 May 2022

Italy cheers again as Oldani grabs Genoa Giro victory

  • The race was conducted at breakneck speed with 53km covered in the first hour, the winner crossing the finish line 30 minutes ahead of even the fastest prediction

GENOA, ITALY: Downtown crowds cheered Italy’s Stefano Oldani home as he broke clear for his first professional win on stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday, while surprise Spaniard Juan Pedro Lopez held the leader’s pink jersey.

Oldani was too fast for fellow breakaway riders Lorenzo Rota and Gijs Leemreize after a breakaway on a high-speed 204km romp from Parma, across the Appenine mountains and north to Genoa.

After making it two wins in two days for Italy, a euphoric Oldani said he joined the early breakaway to aid teammate Mathieu van der Poel, a fan favorite due to his peloton-splitting attacks, but who missed the cut on the last climb as three riders broke off from an original group of 20 escapees.

Stars for the day, the three were cheered home along a festive town center route.

“I wanted it so badly,” said the 24-year-old.

“When I realized that I’d won a stage on the Giro there was a wave of emotion that I couldn’t hold back.”

The race was conducted at breakneck speed with 53km covered in the first hour, the winner crossing the finish line 30 minutes ahead of even the fastest prediction.

Giro rookie Lopez held the race lead for a ninth day, nursing his advantage from his escape to Mount Etna on stage 4.

“Luckily the weather conditions are my favorites, like at my home in south of Spain,” Lopez said, with Italy enjoying warmer than usual May weather.

“Nine days in the Maglia Rosa is a lot! But I wouldn’t mind some more.”

Lopez rolled across the finish line with the main contenders 09min 08sec after Oldani.

Less than 20 seconds separate a clutch of potential Giro winners with Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers, Mikel Landa of Bahrain Victorious and Romain Bardet of DSM the most credible candidates.

In a rare occurence Wilco Kelderman hauled himself back into the overall reckoning reckoning gaining eight minutes as part of the escape to make up for his meltdown on the Blockhaus mountain last Sunday.

Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan left the Giro empty handed ahead of the stage when he became the 14th rider so far to drop out.

Ewan fell on day one and failed to add to his five stage wins here on previous editions.

Along the route for stage 12 the Giro remembered Belgian sprinter Wouter Weylantdt on the Apennine Passo del Bocco, where he died during a stage in 2011.

Friday’s stage 13 is a largely flat 150km run from San Remo to Cuneo, where a sprint finish is the most likely outcome.

Over the weekend Saturday’s treacherous hilly stage should shake up the standings while Sunday’s mountain climb is a slog to a summit finish at over 1500m at Cogne in the Aosta Valley north of Turin.


Malacia becomes Ten Hag’s first signing at Man United

Updated 06 July 2022

Malacia becomes Ten Hag’s first signing at Man United

  • Ten Hag’s recruitment drive is starting to gather pace, with Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen reportedly agreeing to join United on a free transfer after his impressive loan spell at Brentford last season

LONDON: Manchester United completed their swoop for Feyenoord defender Tyrell Malacia on Tuesday as Erik ten Hag made his first signing since taking charge at Old Trafford.

United landed Malacia in a reported £12.95 million ($15.4 million) deal after making a late move for the Netherlands fullback, who had been close to joining French club Lyon.

The 22-year-old has agreed a four-year contract with the option of a further 12 months.

It is a landmark deal for Ten Hag, who had been linked with a host of potential signings before finally making Malacia the first acquisition of his United reign.

Ten Hag arrived at United in May after finishing his successful spell at Ajax, where he had plenty of opportunities to see Malacia’s quality with Dutch rivals Feyenoord.

Malacia, who made 136 appearances for Feyenoord, said: “It’s an incredible feeling to have joined Manchester United. This is a new chapter for me, a new league with new team-mates and a tremendous manager leading us.

“I know from playing against his teams in the Eredivisie, the qualities that he has and what he demands of his players.

“While I know that I am still young and will continue to develop, I can promise the United fans that I will leave everything on the pitch every time I pull on the red shirt.”

Malacia, who plays largely at leftback, is expected to be part of the United squad that leaves for the pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia on Friday.

“I’ll always be thankful to Feyenoord for all they have given to me and my family. None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for them,” Malacia said.

“Now I’m ready to focus on the future with United, and help my new club achieve success.”

Capped five times by the Netherlands, Malacia is likely to compete with England leftback Luke Shaw for a place in United’s starting lineup.

“Tyrell is an exciting, dynamic young footballer with excellent experience for his age, including five seasons in the Eredivisie, a European final and full international honors for the Netherlands,” United football director John Murtough said.

“We look forward to seeing him continue to develop under the guidance of Erik ten Hag and his coaching team in the years ahead.”

Ten Hag’s recruitment drive is starting to gather pace, with Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen reportedly agreeing to join United on a free transfer after his impressive loan spell at Brentford last season.

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie De Jong and Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez have also been linked with moves to Old Trafford.

As well as overhauling a squad that finished a disappointing sixth in the Premier League last season, Ten Hag must resolve the future of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo missed training for “family reasons” on Monday after reportedly asking for a transfer following United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League.

United are said to be determined to hold onto the Portugal striker, who finished as their top scorer last season.


Van Aert wins stage 4 in style and extends Tour overall lead

Updated 06 July 2022

Van Aert wins stage 4 in style and extends Tour overall lead

  • The 27-year-old Van Aert is considered one of the best multi-skilled riders in the world and is a former three-time cyclo-cross world champion and a one-day classics specialist

CALAIS, France: Belgian rider Wout van Aert won the hilly fourth stage of the Tour de France and extended his overall lead after attacking strongly on the day’s final climb on Tuesday.

The Belgian rider kept the leader’s yellow jersey for the Jumbo–Visma team after taking it for the first time on Saturday. He also extended his lead in the green jersey contest for best sprinter.

Van Aert shook up the peloton when he surged ahead up the last of the five climbs — a 900-meter ascent up Cote du Cap Blanc-Nez at a gradient of 7.5  percent — about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the end.

The 27-year-old Van Aert is considered one of the best multi-skilled riders in the world and is a former three-time cyclo-cross world champion and a one-day classics specialist.

The Jumbo-Visma rider flapped his hands like a bird’s wings as he sat up on his bike. He crossed the line eight seconds clear of countryman Jasper Philipsen of the Alpecin–Fenix team, with Jumbo-Visma teammate Christophe Laporte taking third place in a sprint finish.

Van Aert picked up a 10-second time bonus and is now 25 seconds ahead of Yves Lampaert in the overall standings and 32 seconds clear of two-time defending champion Tadej Pogacar.

Pogacar’s rival Primoz Roglic, the 2020 Tour runner-up and Van Aert’s teammate, stayed seventh overall and remained nine seconds behind Pogacar, with both finishing in the main pack.

After a travel day, riders tackled a sunny 171.5-kilometer (106.3-mile) route from the coastal city of Dunkirk to Calais, where riders could see the English coastline when they arrived into the much-used port location. Van Aert completed it in 4 hours, 1 minute, 36 seconds.

Danish rider Magnus Cort, who thrilled crowds with his breakaway rides during three intense days in Denmark, was again in the early breakaway — this time alongside Anthony Perez.

Perez pulled ahead some 45 kilometers (28 miles) out and Cort was caught by the peloton shortly after. Cort picked up more points in the polka-dot jersey bid but much more difficult climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees are still to come.

Wednesday’s fifth stage is a flat stage for sprinters over 157 kilometers (97 miles) starting at Lille Metropole and going over some of the feared cobblestones that feature on the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic.

The race ends on July 24 in Paris.


Korda sisters set for sun-drenched showdown at the $1m Aramco Team Series Sotogrande

Updated 05 July 2022

Korda sisters set for sun-drenched showdown at the $1m Aramco Team Series Sotogrande

  • Nelly and Jessica Korda to compete at La Reserva Club, Aug. 18-20
  • First time the pair will have played in Spain; their second Aramco Team Series event

JEDDAH: American sisters Nelly and Jessica Korda are heading to Spain for the first time, with both confirmed for next month’s $1 million Aramco Team Series Sotogrande.

The siblings will tee off in front of their maiden Spanish crowd at La Reserva Club, Aug. 18-20, in what will be their second Aramco Team Series event presented by the Public Investment Fund.

Both Nelly and Jessica were part of history when they played in last year’s debut Aramco Team Series New York, the first-ever Ladies European Tour event to be played on US soil.

For older sister Jessica — a six-time LPGA-winner — that was just the start of a history-making week, as she captained her team to victory in the event’s unique four-ball format.

Former world No. 1 and US Olympic gold medalist Nelly was one shot shy of bagging the same tournament’s concurrent solo contest. 

Nelly Korda at the Aramco Team Series New York. (Supplied)

Now, both will return to battle it out against the biggest and best names on the Ladies European Tour under the Sotogrande sun this summer.

“I’m so excited to be heading to play in Spain for the first time,” said major-winner Nelly, currently ranked world No. 3.

“It’ll actually be my first ever time visiting Spain, so I’m really looking forward to getting there and seeing and experiencing what I’ve always imagined to be this amazing culture. The golf course at La Reserva looks incredible too so it should be a great week.

“Jess and I both played in the Aramco Team Series event in New York last year and loved the format. It’s something different having the separate team-individual formats going on at the same time which is fun,” she continued. “With the Solheim Cup taking place just round the corner from Sotogrande next year, this will also be the perfect opportunity for me and some of the other Americans in the field to get a bit of a lay of the land and a feel for playing in Spain, with the hope of being back there 12 months later. I’m excited to get out there and can’t wait to see what Sotogrande has in store for us.”

Jessica — who has finished in the top 10 in all five women’s majors — said: “New York’s Aramco Team Series was a great event. Having won the team side of it was a lot of fun. I am looking forward to getting a chance to play that same format again.

“I’ve never actually played in Spain — this will be my first time. Spain has had such a massive influence on golf, from big name players like Seve (Ballesteros), Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm to Carlota Ciganda and the many Spanish girls making an impact on both the LPGA and LET.

“The Spanish fans are known to have some fiery passion too, so I can’t wait to tee it up in front of them for what should be a pretty special atmosphere in Sotogrande.”

The pair will be joined by a host of big-name Spanish golfers, including Solheim Cup hero Ciganda, rising talent Ana Pelaez Trivino, Nuria Iturrioz and Carmen Alonso, as part of a field packed with global stars, more of whom will be announced in due course.

To secure tickets — which start at just €5 ($5.14) — or to find out more, visit aramcoteamseries.com or follow the event on social media @aramco_series.

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Jabeur makes history as 1st Arab woman to qualify to Grand Slam’s last four

Updated 05 July 2022

Jabeur makes history as 1st Arab woman to qualify to Grand Slam’s last four

  • Jabeur will next face close friend and mother-of-two Tatjana Maria
  • Djokovic said he had to give himself a talking to after going two sets down

LONDON: Ons Jabeur has become the first Arab woman to book a place in the last-four of a Grand Slam after the world number two, of Tunisia, defeated Marie Bouzkova on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, defending champion Novak Djokovic battled back from two sets down to reach an 11th Wimbledon semifinal.
Djokovic triumphed 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 over Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner, recovering from a two-set deficit for the seventh time in his career.
The Serb will face Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who also needed five sets to get past David Goffin of Belgium, 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.
As for Jabeur, she defeated Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
She will next face close friend and mother-of-two Tatjana Maria, who defeated fellow unseeded German Jule Niemeier, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
Djokovic, a 20-time major winner, said he had to give himself a talking to after going two sets down.
“The first two sets compared to the next three were like two different matches,” he said.
“But at the end of the second set I took a toilet break, gave myself a little pep talk, tried to gather my thoughts.
“I broke early in the third set. I saw a little bit of doubt start to come into his movement. I have many years’ experience of playing on these courts and coping with the pressure.”
Djokovic is no stranger to Grand Slam adversity, having twice come back from two sets down as recently as last year’s French Open.
The second of those stunning recoveries was in the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
After Tuesday’s bathroom break, he returned to court and grabbed a break in the fourth game of the third set as he trimmed his quarter-final deficit.
In control, the 35-year-old levelled the tie with a double break in the fourth set as Sinner took a worrying tumble on his ankle scrambling to the Center Court net.
Djokovic carved out two more breaks in the decider, the second off the back of a stunning, cross-court backhand on the stretch to go to 5-2 before calmly serving it out.
“I played well but he raised his level,” said Sinner, who had never won a grass-court match before Wimbledon.
Ninth seed Norrie got the better of 58th-ranked Goffin to make the last four of a Slam for the first time.
Left-hander Norrie said he was struggling at the start of the match, admitting he was forced to dig deep.
“It was all just adrenaline, using my legs and trying to put the ball in the court, and it’s great to get over the line,” he said.
Norrie, the first British man to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since Andy Murray in 2016, said he was going to “take it” to top seed Djokovic.
The result was tough on Goffin, who made the quarter-finals on his last appearance at Wimbledon in 2019.
The Belgian hit more winners, 49 to 38, and won more points, with his 151 trumping Norrie’s 145.
Jabeur, the only top 15 seed to make the last-eight in the women’s tournament, battled back to see off 66th-ranked Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.
The Tunisian was broken twice as she lost the first set but lost only two games after that to power to a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 win.
Jabeur described semifinal opponent Maria as her “barbecue buddy.”
“It’s going to be tough to play her, she is a great friend,” she said.
“I am really happy she is in a semifinal — look at her now, she is in a semifinal after having two babies. It is an amazing story.”
Maria, 34, who saved two match points in the previous round against Jelena Ostapenko, made her Grand Slam debut in 2007 and had never progressed beyond the third round at a major before this year’s Wimbledon.
“I have goosebumps everywhere,” said the world number 103, who returned from maternity leave just under a year ago.
“My two little girls, it’s a dream to live this with my family, to live this with my two girls. Almost one year ago I gave birth, it’s crazy.”
The remaining quarter-finals take place on Wednesday.
In the men’s event, Rafael Nadal faces Taylor Fritz of the United States while Nick Kyrgios takes on Chile’s Cristian Garin.
Simona Halep, the 2019 women’s champion, tackles Amanda Anisimova of the United States while Ajla Tomljanovic takes on big-serving Elena Rybakina.


Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kyrgios due in court in Australia

Updated 05 July 2022

Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kyrgios due in court in Australia

  • Attorney Pierre Johannessen wrote that “the allegations are not considered as fact” by the court
  • The Canberra Times reported that Kyrgios is supposed to appear in court on Aug. 2

WIMBLEDON, England: Wimbledon quarterfinalist Nick Kyrgios is due in court back home in Australia next month.
A lawyer representing him said Tuesday the “precise nature of” the allegations “is neither certain at this moment nor confirmed by either the prosecution or” the 27-year-old professional tennis player.
“While Mr. Kyrgios is committed to addressing any and all allegations once clear, taking the matter seriously does not warrant any misreading of the process Mr. Kyrgios is required to follow,” attorney Pierre Johannessen wrote in a statement emailed to the media.
Johannessen wrote that “the allegations are not considered as fact” by the court, and Kyrgios is not “considered charged” with an offense until a first appearance in court.
The Canberra Times reported that Kyrgios is supposed to appear in court on Aug. 2. The newspaper cited local police as saying that a 27-year-old Australian man is involved in a case about “common assault following an incident in December 2021.”
Canberra police did not immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment emailed by The Associated Press.
Kyrgios is scheduled to play Cristian Garin at Wimbledon on Wednesday. It’s the third Grand Slam quarterfinal of the Australian’s career — he is 0-2 in the others — and first in 7 1/2 years.
An ATP spokesperson said: “The ATP is aware of the Australian case involving Nick Kyrgios but as legal proceedings are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”