Tag Archives: mountains

Floro Flores posts skiing picture on Twitter after telling Granada he was injured

Taking the piste! Granada striker Flores posts skiing pictures after telling club he was injured

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UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 4 December 2012

Off piste! Flores posted this picture of himself going skiing when he told his club he was injured

Off piste! Flores posted this picture of himself going skiing when he told his club he was injured

Note to self: don't post photographs of myself skiing on Twitter, when my team are playing an important league game and I'm supposed to be out injured.

La Liga striker Floro Flores told his club Granada he was too injured to play in their home game with Espanyol on Sunday.

He then went skiing in the nearby Sierra Nevada and after posing for snaps posted the photos, of him grinning broadly ready for an afternoon on the piste, on the social networking site.

The Italian striker is now training
in solitary and the club have told him they will move him on in the
January transfer window.

The
former Napoli forward arrived on a season's loan from Udinese in the
summer but has only scored one goal in ten appearances.

It is understood that the 29-year-old striker has failed to settle in Granada, though he does enjoy the nearby mountains.

Arsenal"s American owner Stan Kroenke buys 80m ranch in the Rocky Mountains

Gunners chief Kroenke in 80m splurge… but let's hope he's got some change for Arsene after buying ranch the size of 71,000 Emirates Stadium pitches

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UPDATED:

23:34 GMT, 3 December 2012

On Saturday Arsenal fans marched against the perceived lack of financial muscle being flexed in the transfer market. How could a club with billionaire shareholders and some of the most expensive tickets in world football be unable to compete in the Premier League

News then, that 5,000 miles away American majority shareholder Stan Kroenke was putting the finishing touches to an 80million deal for a Montana ranch will not sit will with feuding fans.

The billionaire businessman has purchased the 124,000 acre site – enough to fit 71,000 Emirates Stadium pitches – in the Rocky Mountains, a fitting location considering the indifferent form of his team and the size of the task facing them if they are to maintain their place among England and Europe's elite.

Scroll down for video

Stan Kroenke's 80 million farm Broken O Ranch in Montana

Not bad: The 10,000-square-foot main house overlooks the Sun River and comes with indoor pool

River view: 20 miles of the Sun River run through the Broken O Ranch

River view: The main house looks out over the 20 miles of the Sun River that run through Broken O Ranch

Stone floors and hunting trophies give the main house a hunting lodge fee

Welcome: Stone floors and hunting trophies give the main house a hunting lodge feel

Arsenal currently sit tenth in the Premier League having endured their worst start to a season for 18 years. Rumblings of discontent among fans have become roars in recent weeks and much of the ire has been directed at the board.

Ivan Gazidis has bore the brunt of the criticism, though Wenger and Kroenke, who owns 66 per cent of the club, has also been heckled.

Covering the equivalent of 71,000 Arsenal pitches, the Broken O Ranch runs 3,500 mother cows, 800 replacement heifers and 175 range bulls.

Against the tide: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is under increasing pressure from the fans

Against the tide: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is under increasing pressure from the fans

Against the tide: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is under increasing pressure from the fans

Such is the vastness of Broken O that the UK's second largest city, Birmingham, at 103 square miles or 66,174 hectares, would virtually fit into it twice.

Situated along the eastern edge of the stunning Rocky Mountain Front – the Broken O Ranch is regarded as one of the US's most grand and significant ranches.

It was owned by the Moore family who spent around 25 years building it up and includes more than 20 miles of the Sun River coursing through it.

The Sun River corridor provides exceptional brown and rainbow trout fishing, antelope, whitetail and mule deer hunting, as well as extensive upland game bird and waterfowl populations.

The main house looks over the 20 miles of the Sun River

Room with a view: The main house gives panoramic views right up to the Rocky Mountains

Broken O Ranch covers the equivalent of 71000 Arsenal pitches

Huge: Broken O Ranch covers the equivalent of 71,000 Arsenal pitches

Each year the ranch produces 25,000 tons of alfalfa hay and 700,000 bushels of small-grain crops.

Denver-based Kroenke, who is worth 2.5 billion, is now thought to be the eighth largest landowner in the USA following his latest purchase – owning an estimated 864,000 acres.

Real estate company Hall and Hall managed the sale for Mr Kroenke, who also owns a number of US sports franchises.

VIDEO: A look at the Broken O Ranch:

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Broken O Ranch spans three counties and is 45 miles west of Great Falls

Location: Broken O Ranch spans Lewis & Clark, Cascade and Teton counties and is 45 miles west of Great Falls and east of the stunning Rocky Mountains

 Broken O Ranch runs 3,500 mother cows, 800 replacement heifers and 175 range bulls

Legacy: Mr Kroenke is said to be looking forward to building on the work done by previous owners in making Broken O one of the most significant farming ranches in the US

The UK city of Birmingham could fit twice into the Broken O Ranch

Vast: The UK city of Birmingham could fit twice into the Broken O Ranch

Breeders" Cup 2012: Clouds on horizon as US Dirt puts off European elite

Clouds on the horizon for Breeders' Cup as reversion to US Dirt puts off European elite

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UPDATED:

20:30 GMT, 29 October 2012

A glance across the idyllic scene from the magnificent Santa Anita grandstand suggests all is wonderful in the world of the Breeders’ Cup.

In the foreground, racehorses perform their daily work-out routines on the same circuit where the great Seabiscuit both ran and had his remarkable life committed to cinematic glory.

Not a fleck of white cloud spoils the azure blue sky and in the distance the San Gabriel mountains rise as a striking backdrop as if created by a celestial set designer.

The stage is set: Blue skies bathe the glorious Santa Anita but there may be trouble ahead

The stage is set: Blue skies bathe the glorious Santa Anita but there may be trouble ahead

The stage is set for the 29th Breeders’ Cup, the world’s richest race meeting which will see $25million up for grabs on Friday and Saturday.

But beneath the surface there is a rumble of uncertainty and questions surrounding the fixture which likes to think of itself as the annual world cup of Flat racing.

It may not have the long history of Royal Ascot and the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in Europe or of the prestigious Kentucky Derby Stateside but the most glamorous race meeting on the globe since 1984 has always had glitter.

Horses like 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Zenyatta added the sort of glamour more associated with that showbusiness mecca just a few miles from Santa Anita, Hollywood.

But, Sir Henry Cecil’s Frankel, the A list topper this year, has not made the trip to California.

A combination of the 1.3million British Champion Day at Ascot, run for the second time this year and one of the growing number of global counter-attractions to the Breeders’ Cup, was his preferred target to the feature 10-furlong Classic on Saturday.

That shows the ever-evolving state of global racing – something that meeting promoters constantly battle.

But it was also a factor that Santa Anita, where John Gosden’s Raven’s Pass became the first British-trained winner of the Classic under Frankie Dettori in 2008, has ripped up its synthetic Pro-Ride surface and reverted to the traditional US Dirt so alien to European runners.

The result is that Aidan O’Brien’s 2011 Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame And Glory and Dermot Weld’s Sense of Purpose – both entered in Friday’s Marathon – plus Tom Dascombe’s Ceiling Kitty (Juvenile Sprint) are the only Europeans being raced on the dirt here.

The secret is in the dirt: The traditional American racing surface is putting off European runners

The secret is in the dirt: The traditional American racing surface is putting off European runners

The hope of a synthetic surfaces, similar to those used in Europe, being more widely used across American to provide a more universal playing field appears to be a dashed dream with the US breeding industry fiercely protective of the Dirt which has helped its bloodlines and studs develop.

That money-talks pressure has largely won over against the fears that Dirt is an animal welfare concern with an overly-high risk of attrition.

There is also disagreement surrounding the use of race-day medication – a regime US racing has developed.

Many want it banned because it allows the fallibility of certain lines to perpetuate with medical protection and penalises the sound and strong during an age where sports across the spectrum are desperate to look clean.

But there are fears from punters that established form will go out of the window and virtually every single racing body in America is keen to keep the status quo for fear of the commercial fall-out.

However, for the first time this year, all the two-year-old races at the Breeders’ Cup will be contested by runners who have been banned from using diuretic Furosemide, something only allowed during training in Britain but which must have cleared the system before a horse races.

Better known as Lasix or Salix – it is used as standard in America as a means of preventing horses breaking blood vessels during racing.

Its Breeders’ Cup ban has infuriated some of the domestic audience. Top New York-based owner Mike Repole has boycotted the meeting in protest.

Marathon runner: Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame and Glory is one of the only European horses this year

Marathon runner: Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame and Glory is one of the only European horses this year

But if the Breeders Cup sticks to its guns, it will also outlaw race-day medication from all races at the meeting next year and that could lead to drastic action, according to British-born trainer Simon Callaghan who is carving out a successful career from his Santa Anita base.

Callaghan said: ‘With no Lasix in the two-year-old races it makes it a fair level playing field, although the American horses have run on it all year and then have to come off it for the Breeders’ Cup.

‘I personally feel that Lasix is something which helps horses and prevents them from bleeding and that would be the feeing of the majority of trainers over here.

'If next year is a totally medication-free meeting, I think some people, although not me, might take a stand and not run their horses.’

Breeders’ Cup President Craig Favel, however, insists there will be no back tracking in their thinking.

Favel said: ‘It has been highly controversial, not so much the Breeders’ Cup but the whole issue of race-day medication.

‘In terms of the Breeders’ Cup, I think the industry has been very supportive but when you put on a championship, you can do it under the rules you present.

‘I talked to (top trainer) Todd Pletcher the other day and thanked him – he disagrees with (the policy) but he is here to run which is a credit to people’s sportsmanship.

‘Life has very few guarantees but our board has made no indication to back off of that.’

If they do stick to their guns, the line up for the 2013 and 30th Breeders’ Cup could be very interesting.

It will be a significant milestone but also a worrying one for the Breeders’ Cup as it strives to maintain its place at the top of the racing world.

Fabrice Muamba to have minor operation

Muamba career still in the balance with Bolton star to have fresh operation

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UPDATED:

06:05 GMT, 9 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Fabrice Muamba has been told he needs more heart surgery if he is to have any hope of resurrecting his playing career.

The Bolton midfielder is in Belgium for specialist treatment, five months after he 'died' for 78 minutes on the pitch at White Hart Lane during an FA Cup match.

The 24-year-old visited leading cardiologist Pedro Brugada in the hope of being told he will one day play football again.

Hoping for more: Fabrice Muamba is desperate to resume his playing career

Hoping for more: Fabrice Muamba is desperate to resume his playing career

While there has been no definitive answer, according to the Mirror newspaper, Muamba is expected to have 'a minor but necessary procedure' on Thursday.

Ahead of the operation, the former England Under 21 international's girlfriend Shauna took to Twitter.

She said: 'Thank you guys for the support if it is Gods will @fmuamba will play again even better and stronger than before. Faith can move mountains.'

She later added: 'For all your kind words thank you so much @fmuamba and I really appreciate it. Promise to update at the end of the week xx.'

Recovery: Muamba 'died' for 78 minutes during an FA Cup match at Spurs

Recovery: Muamba 'died' for 78 minutes during an FA Cup match at Spurs

Speaking in an interview with Piers Morgan on American news channel CNN, Muamba recently revealed he had enjoyed a 'kickabout' with players including Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson and Sunderland's Kieran Richardson during a recent visit to Dubai.

He said: 'I was on holiday and I was staying in a hotel and there were quite a few footballers in the hotel as well. The staff of the hotel usually play against the visitor so I was by the pool and I heard they were playing football.

'Then I went across and saw other footballers playing and I told my friends and Shauna – I told her “I am sorry but I am going to play football”. She goes “are you sure” and I say “yes” and I just went in there.'

Tour de France 2012: Bradley Wiggins must prove he is a worthy winner in time-trial

Trial of a champion: As the Team Sky machine delivers him to glory, Wiggins must prove why he is a worthy Tour winner

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 20 July 2012

As the peloton dashed across the finish line, Bradley Wiggins climbed on to the podium, shook hands with French President Francois Hollande and collected his 11th yellow jersey of this year’s Tour de France.

Next stop was the Team Sky bus and a warmdown, a luxury he has not been afforded since he assumed the leadership of this race in the Jura mountains. A quick couple of interviews later and he was gone.

Not because he wasn’t in the mood to oblige but because, in spite of a near-certain triumph as the first British winner of the Tour, he still has something to prove. Every Tour champion passes into its legend with a performance of such crushing dominance that no-one can doubt his success.

Leaders: Bradley Wiggins is congratulated by French President Francois Hollande on Friday

Leaders: Bradley Wiggins is congratulated by French President Francois Hollande on Friday

Where it all started: Bradley Wiggins - aged four - with his new BMX

Where it all started: Bradley Wiggins – aged four – with his new BMX

How it stands

1 B Wiggins 83hr 22min 18sec
2 C Froome +2min 05sec
3 V Nibali (It) Liquigas +2:41
4 J van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto +5:53
5 T Van Garderen (US) BMC +8:30
6 C Evans (A) BMC +9:57
7 H Agirre (Sp) RadioShack +10:11
8 P Rolland (F) Europcar +10:17
9 J Brajkovic (Slo) Astana +11:00
10 T Pinot (F) FDJ +11:46.

Wiggins has done so once, in the time trial at Besancon 12 days ago, yet the unpierced armour of the Sky battalion that has surrounded him for the past 2,100 miles as well as his perceived climbing inferiority to team-mate Chris Froome means he has to do so again.

Saturday's 33-mile flat time trial course from Bonneval to Chartres has become Wiggins’s mountain. He will roll down the ramp at the start line with an unswerving ambition — to show that he is the strongest rider in this race and that he deserves due honour.

Friday’s front page of France’s sports paper L’Equipe carried the headline: ‘The Stroll of the English.’ Inside were two more: ‘The plan is the plan’ and ‘One winner, one question.’

The front page was a reference to Sky’s unrelenting control of this race. The inside pages referred to team orders and the instructions passed to Froome on the upper slopes of first La Toussuire and then Peyragudes to wait for Wiggins.

Sky have now won four stages in the 2012 Tour. With Wiggins and, on Sunday, Mark Cavendish on the Parisian avenue he has made his own — the Champs-Elysees — they may end up with six. Wiggins and Froome will finish first and second overall. The logo of the team sponsors and the pale blue stripe on the black team jerseys have become a symbol of robotic efficiency.

Flower power: Wiggins has rarely been troubled while wearing yellow this summer

Flower power: Wiggins has rarely been troubled while wearing yellow this summer

Tour by numbers

45 – bikes used, along with 59 helmets and 176 wheels

9,000 – calories consumed per day by each rider — three times the recommended amount for a normal adult male

2,173 – miles covered by each rider, the equivalent to three times the length of the United Kingdom

19 – different hotels used by the team in France

2kg – in weight lost by each rider on the Tour, as they simply cannot consume as much energy as they are expending getting over the mountains

Rivals are in awe of the precision of the Sky machine and jealous of the annual budget approaching 20million which has been able to attract the supporting cast including Froome, Michael Rogers, Richie Porte and Edvald Boasson Hagen to assure the inevitability of Wiggins’s success. They are also unsure how to prevent an era of British domination in road cycling.

Wiggins is seen as the leader of a team which could not have been beaten this year. The competition is thinner without the unpredictable brilliance of Alberto Contador to jump out of his saddle, on to his pedals and accelerate up the steepest mountains with utter disregard for gradients which defy those who would follow him.

And without the grinding rhythm of Andy Schleck to maintain a tempo which no-one but Contador can support, there has been nothing to disturb Sky’s equilibrium.

What has been absent, however, is excitement over the identity of the yellow jersey wearer. Tour history is filled with tales of derring-do, of riders desperately trying to break their rivals, of epic battles on bikes with altitude starving the brain of oxygen and the legs of strength. It is why Wiggins will not be saluted as the winner of a great Tour de France.

Rock solid: Wiggins has enjoyed superb support from his Team Sky pals

Rock solid: Wiggins has enjoyed superb support from his Team Sky pals

Marc Madiot, the man who gave him his professional road-race contract at the French team Francaise des Jeux and who still manages the team, is a Wiggins admirer, but even he cannot see the 2012 race as one which illuminates the 99-year history of Le Tour.

Madiot said: ‘I have a photo at home of Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor shoulder-to-shoulder on the Puy de Dome, bare-headed, not even glancing at each other. Nowadays, the riders fiddle with their earpieces and ask their computer if they can accelerate or not. Everything is antisepticised, put within parameters, informed by machines.

‘The riders check their heart-rates, their watts and tell themselves they will climb this or that mountain in 40 minutes. Everything is pre-ordained, whereas before it was all about intuition and having a go without knowing whether you would crack or not.

‘It will be great to see an English rider on the podium, especially Bradley, but everything fell into place this year. For him, it was this year or never.’

In the age of the computer Team Sky have become masters of the cycling universe. Their superiority is overwhelming. Wiggins needs to display the old-fashioned virtue of courage without limitations to seize his place in the annals of this great race.

Froome the servant shows he's ready to be a master
Chris Froome

Chris Froome, the man who has inspired and on occasions dragged Bradley Wiggins around France, was a journeyman cyclist before joining Team Sky in 2010.

Born in Kenya and raised in South Africa, Froome, 27, has an English father and grandparents. He represented Kenya in the 2006 World Championships time trial but his early years as a professional road cyclist for the Barloworld team were blighted by a lack of support and injury.

He finished second in last year’s Vuelta a Espana, showing his ability to climb as well as emerging as a time-trialist. It is this magic combination which has marked him out as a contender for this year’s Tour and a potential future winner.

His burst to the line up the lung-bursting climb of the Planche des Belles Filles earned the Stage 7 victory. His ability at altitude means that Froome’s role has been to guide team leader Bradley Wiggins up the final climb of the day in the mountain stages.

As a super-domestique (a luxury servant), Froome has to obey team orders and thus sacrificed his chance of a stage victory on the climbs to La Toussuire and Peyragudes to safeguard Wiggins' position.

Tour de France 2012: Bradley Wiggins in yellow jersey as Thomas Voeckler wins stage 16

Voeckler earns stage win as Wiggins holds off dogged attacks from Italian rival Nibali

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UPDATED:

14:59 GMT, 18 July 2012

Bradley Wiggins remains in the yellow jersey following stage 16 of the Tour de France after holding off the challenge of Italian Vincenzo Nibali.

The Liquigas-Cannondale rider attacked three times in the Pyrenees but each time he was pegged back by Wiggins and his Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome.

Home favourite Thomas Voeckler won the stage and took over at the head of the King of the Mountains classification.

More to follow…

Cagey: Bradley Wiggins held off the challenge of Vincenzo Nibali in the mountains

Cagey: Bradley Wiggins held off the challenge of Vincenzo Nibali in the mountains

Winner: Thomas Voeckler (right) broke away to win stage 16 and take the king of the mountains jersey

Winner: Thomas Voeckler (right) broke away to win stage 16 and take the king of the mountains jersey

Stunning: The Tour de France entered the Pyrenees for the first of two days in the mountains

Stunning: The Tour de France entered the Pyrenees for the first of two days in the mountains

Tour de France 2012: Bradley Wiggins retains lead after 10 stages

Great Briton Wiggins retains yellow jersey after 10 stages of Tour de France

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UPDATED:

16:28 GMT, 11 July 2012

Briton Bradley Wiggins successfully defended the yellow jersey for a third day as the Tour de France headed towards the Alps and Thomas Voeckler won the 10th stage in the Jura Mountains.

The 194.5-kilometre route from Macon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine featured the first hors categorie (beyond category) ascent, the 17.4km climb of Col du Grand Colombier, and had the potential to shake up the general classification.

But Wiggins, with Team Sky colleague Richie Porte strong throughout the day, finished three minutes 16 seconds behind Voeckler to retain a 1min 53secs lead over second-placed Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). Chris Froome (Team Sky) stayed third, 2:07 behind.

Glamour game: Bradley Wiggins on the podium after stage 10 of the Tour de France

Glamour game: Bradley Wiggins on the podium after stage 10 of the Tour de France

Defending champion Evans attempted to claw back some seconds in the finale but Wiggins was alert and stuck to the Australian's wheel to roll in one place behind him in 13th place.

Voeckler (Europcar), who wore the maillot jaune for 10 days of the 2011 Tour, finished ahead of Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), with Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) third. It was the Frenchman's third Tour stage success.

Wiggins will on Thursday become the first Briton to wear the maillot jaune for four days in one Tour, beating the previous best of three days set by Chris Boardman in 1994 and David Millar in 2000, but keeping it in Paris on July 22 is his main goal.

Fan-tastic: Wiggins and his fellow Brits are cheered on by a colourful character during stage 10

Fan-tastic: Wiggins and his fellow Brits are cheered on by a colourful character during stage 10

The 148km 11th stage from Albertville to La Toussuire features two hors categorie (beyond category) climbs and ends with an 18km category one ascent to the finish.

It is a day when his lead in the general classification could come under threat.

A 25-man break including Britons Steve Cummings, Millar (Garmin-Sharp) and points classification leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), a winner of three stages thus far, established an advantage of more than five minutes 70 kilometres into the stage.

All smiles: Bradley Wiggins (right) and team-mate Mark Cavendish at the start of the 10th stage of the Tour de France

All smiles: Bradley Wiggins (right) and team-mate Mark Cavendish at the start of the 10th stage of the Tour de France

Cummings is a BMC Racing team-mate of Evans and was joined by another colleague, Marcus Burghardt.

It was perhaps an indication as to Evans' tactics, with the duo in position to potentially support the Australian later in the day.

The escape group splintered as soon as
they began long ascent of the Col du Grand Colombier, at an average
gradient of 7.1 per cent.

Scenic route: The riders make their way from Macon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine

Scenic route: The riders make their way from Macon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine

The summit came 43km from the finish, but the tempo set by Team Sky limited the prospect of attacks.

Luis-Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) was the first to attack from the escape group, 11km from the summit, and he was joined by Voeckler, Scarponi and Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) by the top.

Behind the quartet, Edvald Boasson Hagen was at the front of the Team Sky-led peloton, with Porte and Michael Rogers ahead of Wiggins, pedalling serenely in the maillot jaune, and Froome behind.

Catch me if you can: Wiggins holds on to the yellow jersey after 10 stages of the Tour de France

Catch me if you can: Wiggins holds on to the yellow jersey after 10 stages of the Tour de France

Evans was sticking to the wheel of Wiggins, who had yellow handlebar tape to accessorise with the maillot jaune, watching every revolution.

Porte took control and successfully snuffed out two attempted attacks by Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol).

The long descent saw Vincenzo Nibali forge forward and establish a lead over Wiggins of almost a minute, but it proved fruitless come the day's final climb.

Thirsty work: Wiggins takes a bottle from Cavendish during stage 10

Thirsty work: Wiggins takes a bottle from Cavendish during stage 10

With Porte looking strong, dragging his Team Sky colleagues along, Nibali was caught midway up the 7.2km category three Col de Richemond.

The summit of came 20.5km from the finish, but Nibali opted not to take the opportunity to seek to break clear.

Up ahead, Voigt joined the leading quartet before Devenyns attacked on his own with 2.5km to go.

The gap was bridged and Voeckler made his move with less than 1km to go solo to victory.

Evans made a number of bursts in the closing moments, but Wiggins played a watchful role to hold on to the overall lead.

Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) finished in the same group to stay fourth overall, 2:23 behind.

Still trailing: Cadel Evans remains in second place behind Wiggins

Still trailing: Cadel Evans remains in second place behind Wiggins

London 2012 Olympics: Samuel Sanchez unlikely to defend road race title

Olympic champion Sanchez unlikely to defend title in London after Tour crash

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UPDATED:

15:15 GMT, 8 July 2012

Defending Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez has withdrawn from the Tour de France after a crash during the eighth stage in which he sustained injuries that could rule him out of the London Games.

Sanchez was involved in a spectacular crash that occurred 35 miles into a stage that took the riders into the Swiss mountains on Sunday.

Doubt: Samuel Sanchez (centre) is unlikely to be fit to defend his Olympic road race title

Doubt: Samuel Sanchez (centre) is unlikely to be fit to defend his Olympic road race title

Sanchez, who won a Tour stage last
year on his way to winning the best climber's polka-dot jersey, fell on
his side before two other riders landed on him.

A tearful Sanchez sat on the ground,
clutching his left shoulder and arm, as medical teams tended to him
before he was put on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital in
Montbeliard by ambulance.

Tour doctor Florence Pommerie said Sanchez had broken his right hand and injured his left shoulder.

Going well: Sanchez started the day in 12th before the crash

Going well: Sanchez started the day in 12th before the crash

'We suspect a dislocated or a broken
shoulder,' she said. 'He also lost consciousness for a couple of
seconds, probably because of the pain.'

Alejandro Valverde of Spain, one of the two riders who fell on Sanchez, sustained a cut on his shin in the crash.

Sanchez was set to defend his Olympic
title later this month in the road race which is scheduled for July 28.
It is not clear if Sanchez will recover from his injuries in time to
compete.

Sanchez had started the day in 12th position, just over two minutes behind leader Bradley Wiggins.

He said earlier this week that
winning the Olympic road race at the Beijing Games was the pinnacle of
his career, and said he is eager to defend it.

Crashes have marred the first week of the Tour and Sanchez became the 20th rider to drop out of the three-week race.

The 98 mile ride on Sunday from
Belfort to the Swiss town of Porrentruy features seven climbs – two of
which are among the steepest on the whole Tour.

Smith confident that South Africa will scale the heights on tour in England

Smith confident that South Africa will scale the heights on tour in England

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UPDATED:

20:39 GMT, 7 July 2012

South Africa captain Graeme Smith denies his team will be undercooked for the forthcoming Test series, claiming they have been hardened by a high-altitude training camp.

Peak practice: Smith

Peak practice: Smith

The Proteas arrived in England on Friday after a gruelling three-day camp in Switzerland.

With warm-up matches against Somerset starting on Monday, and Kent next Friday, the tourists have only five days of cricket to prepare for the opening Test against England at the Oval on July 19.

India were humiliated 4-0 by England following a similar build-up last summer, but Smith insists his team will be ready.

‘We have toured a lot better than India in the past,’ he said. ‘We haven’t lost a series away from home since 2006. That shows we know how to prepare.

‘The coaching staff set out our training camp in Switzerland and that was pretty tough.

‘They are the sort of things most of us have seen only in movies.

‘We climbed a few mountains. Whether it was on bikes or in the snow, we scaled a few Alps. We gained the confidence to come away and perform.’