Contador takes overall lead thanks to 'devilish voice'
SPORTS DIGEST: CyclingA surprise attack netted Alberto Contador a stage win and the overall lead in the Vuelta a Espana yesterday.
As the Vuelta began its third and final week, Contador was trailing overnight leader Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain by 28 seconds and seemed to be facing almost certain defeat.
On a seemingly straightforward stage through the hills of Cantabria culminating in a long, steady climb in the Picos de Europa mountains, Contador took off with a group of 18 riders, then shed them one by one to go solo 13 kilometres from the line.
Rodriguez tried desperately to limit the gap with his fellow Spaniard but Contador crossed the finish line alone six seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde and Colombia’s Sergio Henao.
Contador, who completed a doping ban on August 5th, now leads compatriot Valverde by one minute 52 seconds. Rodriguez, 10th in the stage 2:38 back, is third at 2:28 overall.
The 30-year-old Contador told reporters that his attack on the ascent had come after a “devilish little voice in my ear said: ‘Go for it, go for it’.”
- SHANE STOKES
McLaren reject report Hamilton set to leave for Mercedes
Formula OneMcLaren rejected a BBC report yesterday suggesting Lewis Hamilton was set leave them and replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes next season.
“We have been told by Lewis Hamilton’s management team that the story is untrue,” a McLaren spokesman said.
Former Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan, who gave Schumacher his debut in the sport in 1991 and is now an F1 analyst for BBC television, told the broadcaster he had heard talks were advanced with Mercedes.
“I believe Hamilton and Mercedes have already agreed personal terms and a deal could be imminent,” the BBC quoted the Irishman as saying ahead of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
A spokesman for Hamilton said his management was “in advanced negotiations with McLaren regarding a new contract.”
Smith returns to face Argentina
RugbyConrad Smith will return for New Zealand’s Rugby Championship clash against Argentina on Saturday after the centre missed two Bledisloe Cup Tests against Australia due to eye surgery.
Smith and Ma’a Nonu have had a long partnership at Super Rugby and international level and were the first choice centre pairing for the All Blacks during last year’s World Cup campaign, though they have not played together since beating France to win the Webb Ellis trophy.
Smith had two surgeries on a detached retina following the conclusion of the Super Rugby tournament and was unavailable for the All Blacks victories over the Wallabies last month. The 30-year-old Nonu was rested for the June internationals against Ireland. Wellington Hurricanes youngster Julian Savea also returns to the side on the left wing.
NEW ZEALAND: I Dagg; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, J Savea; D Carter, A Smith; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, O Franks, L Romano, B Retallick, V Vito, R McCaw (capt), K Read. Replacements: A Hore, C Faumuina, S Whitelock, L Messam, P Weepu, A Cruden, B Smith.
Heurteau 10th in World Cup rankings
CanoeingIreland’s Ciaran Heurteau has finished 10th in the World Cup standings for 2012 in Canoe Slalom. The man brought up near Paris has been the closest Irish rival in the K1 (racing kayak) in recent years for Eoin Rheinisch, who qualified for the Olympic Games ahead of him.
Heurteau (25) competed in all five World Cups and placed fifth in Pau in France. He was 15th at last weekend’s World Cup in Bratislava. Rheinisch concentrated on the Olympic Games this year and placed 14th there. He competed in just two World Cup events and was ranked 50th. In the latest ICF world rankings, which take a selection of events into account over a two-year period, Heurteau is ranked 47th and Rheinisch 56th. The highest-placed Irish woman is Hannah Craig in 45th.
Meanwhile, the annual Liffey Descent will this year take place on Saturday, September 29th. The organisers plan to establish the last Saturday in September as the new date for the event. The new finishing point will be at the Garda Boat Club.
- LIAM GORMAN