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The Sunday Stroll: 24 July, 2011

July 24, 2011

The 2011 Tour de France finishes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris later today with Mark Cavendish hoping to not only win the prestigious stage but to win the Green jersey as best sprinter (most points) for the first time in his career. Cav’s had a stormer with four stage victories to his name, although he and a number of others (approx. 88!) were docked 20 points for finishing outside of the time-limit on the savage stage 18 – a stage that featured three hors catégorie climbs (‘without category’) including Col du Galibier. Truly monstrous.

Andy Schleck won that day with a stunning breakaway ride – one of the all-time great rides. Earlier in the week, Andy revealed what he and his teammates eat each day whilst on tour…

Quite a feast. Friday’s Alpe d’Huez stage entertained with numerous attacks from Alberto Contador, the three-times former winner who is controversially racing under appeal following a positive test for clenbuterol last year. His dramatic front-running on Friday was astonishing considering he looked dead on his feet the previous day, sparking memories of turnaround performances by Floyd Landis five years ago (he won in Morzine ‘after a disaster in the Alps the previous day […] but a urine sample taken from him in Morzine was later found to contain an anomalous testosterone reading‘) and Alexander Vinokourov in 2007, whose topsy-turvy Tour (won the stage 13 time trial by an absrud margin, then lost 30 minutes on the first day in the Pyrenees (stage 14), but then won the very next day etc) resulted in a positive test for an illegal blood transfusion. As the Guardian’s Richard Williams notes (re Contador), ‘the Tour does not need any more such ‘miraculous’ performances,’ so it was gratifying to see Contador struggle and fade as the stage finished…

Meanwhile, here’s the controversial Spaniard punching a fan in the face. In fairness, the chap was dressed as a doctor holding a fake ‘drugs’ needle…

Alas the yellow jersey was decided by Saturday’s Time Trial, with Cadel Evans crushing his opponents to claim the win. What proved key however were the two minutes he took out of Schleck’s lead on the final climb up the Col du Galibier on stage 18 – a mighty fine effort. Here he is interviewed after putting on the revered maillot jaune

After England skipper Andrew Strauss bagged a century whilst guesting for Somerset against India last week, the eagerly-awaited Test series got under way on Thursday. Stuart Broad got the nod over Tim Bresnan, although it was a double ton by KP that really caught the eye…

Just to get you in the mood for the series, here is a very young Sachin Tendulker scoring his maiden Test hundred came against England at Old Trafford back in the early 90s…

And to show that the boot of success can be on the other foot, here is England’s James Kirtley taking one of the all-time great catches against India a few years back…

MotoGP action last weekend saw Dani Pedrosa claim the win ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner, although it was the 125cc race which grabbed everyone’s attention with a seven-way battle for the lead, numerous lead-changes and an eventual dead-heat/photo finish on the line! Gripping…

Excuse the poor quality on that clip, it’s all we could find. If you’re in the UK however, you can see it perfectly via this link

This weekend they’re off to Laguna Seca in the States. You can read about our trip there last year via this link, but it promises to be a great race. Watching the bikes attempt to negotiate the impossibly-steep cliff-dropping corkscrew is truly a sight to behold…

And here’s the iconic Rossi-Stoner Laguna Seca duel from 2008…

This time around the Yamaha team have gone all retro on us…

F1 headed to the Nürburgring in Germany this weekend, with Lewis Hamilton winning a fascinating and hard-fought race earlier. After leading following a great start he was harried by Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, briefly reliquishing the lead after a pit-stop before a retaking it off Alonso with stunning round-the-outside pass. A well deserved win at the ‘Ring for Lewis. Although the current ‘Ring isn’t a patch on the iconic 14.7 mile monster of old, here’s a fascinating insight into Jackie Stewart who won in atrocious conditions at the ‘Ring in 1968 by a scarcely believable margin of four minutes. Oh, and he did it with a broken wrist…

Meanwhile, ex-driver and current commentator David Coulthard took time out last weekend for a spot of DTM racing. And crashed. Smooth…

Intriguingly, the F1 Institute have been testing the concept of sticking a canopy over the drivers as a possible future safety measure. Well worth a quick watch…

The big news from the golf world obviously was Darren Clarke’s triumph at the Open – a very popular victory. Here’s the moment he clinched it…

He had his fair share of luck en route to claiming the Claret Jug, although all champions need to ride their luck occasionally! No shame in that. Talking of luck, check out this shot from Darren Clarke back in 2005…

So Brazil eh: Pelé, samba football, and five World Cup trophies in their cabinet… success and Brazil go hand-in-hand. Their Copa América clash with Paraguay went to penalties this week. No sweat, surely…

And there were we thinking that it was just the English that struggled with spot-kicks (ahem, Messrs. Pearce, Southgate, Batty & Ince, Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard & Carragher ad infinitum). Anyways, here’s how to take a penalty with flair and accuracy. Awana Diab, take a bow…

Pre-season, Werder Bremen style: pony-racing…

And whilst Mo Farah was busy setting a new British record in the 5,000m over in Monaco at the latest Diamond League athletics meeting, two French 1,500m runners – Mehdi Baala and Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad – were engaged in a cheeky bout of rather poorly-aimed fistycuffs. In the words of Morpheus, ‘stop trying to hit me, and hit me’…

As ever folks, thanks for reading. All the best…

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