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The Sunday Stroll: 17 July, 2011

July 17, 2011

Where else to start but in France! There was shameful conduct by a Tour de France TV vehicle last weekend, with Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland wiped out by a careless driver, the latter sent flying into a barbed-wire fence. And yet the organisers / French TV have the hypocritical audacity to perpetuate the notion that Mark Cavendish is dangerous. What an absolute joke…

Ben Swift called the incident ‘terrible,’ Fabian Cancellara went further calling it ‘a scandal,’ whilst Mark Cavendish suggested that ‘anyone involved with a bike race (including riders) should take written & practical tests before getting licenses‘. At least Tour organisers had the compunction to award Hoogerland and Flecha the Prix de la Combativité award (the combativity award) in recognition of what these riders were put through. Here’s Hoogerland – in tears! – collecting his award…

And, in case you missed it, here’s the unfortunate moment when Brit Bradley Wiggins exited the Tour last week. The pain on his face is clear to see…

Still, the Tour goes on. Cav’s now picked up three stage victories and might well contest for another later on today. In the yellow jersey competition Frenchman Thomas Voeckler continues to defy the odds after retaining the maillot jaune through the Pyrenees. Indeed the first real mountains of the Tour rendered a couple of exciting stages, but no definitive answers – Alberto Contador, the Schleck brothers, Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso and Samuel Sanchez all look like challenging; Trips up Alpe d’Huez and Col du Galibier later this week should give us further insight and the riders further pain. Meanwhile, here’s Lance Armstrong at his very best decimating Jan Ullrich on Alpe d’Huez back in 2001…

Finally from Le Tour, here is a video whose title says all you need to know about it…

MotoGP’s back this weekend, although on-track action controversy-wise it hasn’t got a patch on this action from the Thai SuperBikes – Marco Simoncelli & Dani Pedrosa/Jorge Lorenzo, eat your hearts out…

Rob Green, Tim Flowers, David Seaman – you’re not alone…

Mind you, if you like howlers – check out this one (although in fairness it was only on Fifa11, but still)…

F1 hit Silverstone last weekend, and Seb Vettel didn’t win for once! Fernando Alonso pipped him to the post after a few pit-stop foul-ups by the Red Bull team. However, what caused consternation amongst F1 fans was when Mark Webber was told by his team to “maintain the gap” to Sebastian Vettel (ie do not overtake him) having closed in on his teammate in the final laps. Now that team orders are permitted again, we have to say that the call by RBR makes total sense. Unlike the controversial ‘Fernando is faster than you‘ incident last season which happened mid-race (which Horner himself called ‘wrong for the sport,’ stating the drivers ‘should be allowed to race‘), they were on their final lap at Silverstone and a big points haul was at risk should Webber and Vettel have collided, as happened in Turkey last season. What frustrates fans, however, is the widely held belief that had the drivers’ postitions been reversed (ie Vettel closing on Webber) then no such order would have been issued. Webber having his new front-wing given to Vettel at Silverstone last year certainly testifies to as much…

Anyways, away from the front, Michael Schumacher once again got himself involved in a clumsy tangle with another driver, this time with Kamui Kobayashi, losing his front-wing and earning a stop-and-go penalty as a result. Schumi’s had enough nose changes to rival Michael Jackson this season…

The Open kicked off this week and concludes later today, with popular Northern Irishman Darren Clarke (-5) leading the field and looking good to claim his first major. One shot off the lead and challenging hard – and with a hole-in-one to his name (see below) – is our tip Dustin Johnson (-4), whilst young American Rickie Fowler (-2) could pose a threat, having carded an impressive 68 in atrocious conditions yesterday.

Highlights earlier in the week included the  first round lead being shared between Thomas Bjørn – who was only playing as a late replacement for the injured Vijay Singh – and young English amateur Tom Lewis, and this second round hole-in-one by golfing legend Tom Watston…

Nothing will come close to beating Miguel Ángel Jiménez’s incredible warm-up routine though. Truly a sight to behold, and all the time done whilst enjoying a big fat cigar. Krusty, you legend…

Fulham’s European adventure / pre-season campaign continued this week with a trip across the Irish Sea to face Northern Irish side Crusaders. The Cottagers were given a bit of a fright by their hosts, before eventually emerging 3-1 winners – a good lead to take into the return leg at the Cottage this coming Thursday. Goals and highlights below… the first two goals (Matthew Briggs for Fulham and Timmy Anderson for Crusaders) are absolute crackers!!

Elsewhere in the world of pre-season football, here is Chelsea’s Yossi Benayoun scoring an outrageously cheeky back-heeled overhead lob against Wycombe…

This one from West Brom’s pre-season schedule will ring a few bells for Paul Robinson and Ben Foster no doubt. Here is Earthquakes goalie David Bingham scoring from his own penalty area against WBA’s Boaz Myhill…

Meanwhile, never one to avoid a headline, Joey Barton has not made Newcastle’s pre-season tour to America after being denied a visa for the US. Strange that, it’s not as if he has a past that includes assaulting members of the public or stubbing cigars out in teammate’s eyes. Oh wait, he does. Ah. Good on Mr Barton though, he showed a commendable measured restraint when commenting on the matter, stating ‘I don’t expect to be treated any differently or more favourably than anyone else in a similar situation.’ Quite. Mind you, one comment left him sounding more like Earl Hickey from My Name is Earl than the loose-cannon he is portrayed as: ‘All I can do is continue to improve as a person‘…

And whilst Joey (bless his little cottons…) is reforming, it seems Toon fans are regressing, with a pitch invasion taking place during their pre-season encounter with Darlington. “When Sammy scores, we’re on the pitch”… genius. Ahem.  Oh yeah, check out the kid in the Magpies top who stacks it around 0:20 into the video, bottom left corner. Priceless…

Just a shame that it led to this. Some “fans” really are idiots, aren’t they…

And finally, wearing a Man United shirt to a Liverpool training session… not such a great idea!…

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