Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 4th 2015 Contents A51
Saturday, July 4, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
UTRECHT---Tour de France
champion Vincenzo Nibali did
not see much of rival Chris
Froome the last time they raced
That s because Froome was a
dot on the horizon.
At the Criterium du Dauphine
race last month, Froome sent out
a major warning to Nibali --- and
others --- that he is in great form,
clinching overall victory on the
back of two dashing stage wins in
the mountains. Nibali, meanwhile,
Their rivalry resumes today,
when the Tour gets underway with
a short and sharp 13.8-kilometre
individual time trial in the cycling-
mad Dutch city of Utrecht.
Froome, the 2013 Tour winner,
is feeling extremely confident.
"I ve come to the start of this
race in perfect condition. I m sur-
rounded by what I think is the
strongest team in the race," Froome
said on Friday. "It s probably going
to be one of the most contested
races in years."
Saturday s opener gives Froome,
the faster rider, a chance to get an
early edge on the Italian.
"I d expect time gaps of at least
up to 20 seconds between the
(main) contenders," the Kenyan-
born British rider said. "So, yes
the race between the (overall) con-
tenders does start in that regard."
The roles are reversed from last
year, with Nibali as the defending
champ, which takes some pressure
"That s definitely a big factor in
how I m feeling," Froome said.
"Certainly not coming in as
defending champion, I ve got
everything to look forward to."
Froome failed to defend his title
last year after crashing early on.
As in last year s race, cobblestone
sections will feature again and
seemingly suit the slick bike-han-
dling skills of Nibali more than
they do Froome.
"I ve been out there and looked
at the cobbles, and I m quite look-
ing forward to that stage," said an
optimistic and upbeat-sounding
Froome, sitting at a pre-race news
conference in the middle of his
Team Sky team-mates.
The race is being touted as a
thrilling four-way scrap, one which
should very much include Giro
d Italia champion Alberto Contador
and Colombian climbing ace Nairo
Quintana, the 2013 Tour runner-
"He is one of the favourites, if
not the No 1 favourite," said Nibali,
who last weekend successfully
defended his Italian national title.
Contador, a two-time Tour win-
ner who was also stripped of his
2010 title for a failed doping test,
hopes to become the first rider
since Marco Pantani in 1998 to
win the Giro-Tour double the same
year. But Nibali and Froome both
expressed reservations as to the
likelihood of that happening.
"It s going to be interesting to
see how much he pulls up (the
mountains) in the third week, see-
ing as he already has a Grand Tour
in his legs," Froome said.
Ending with four straight days
of climbing in the Alps, including
the penultimate stage up the famed
L Alpe d Huez, it is a Tour very
much for climbers. Hence why
Froome s performance in the
Dauphine was so impressive.
At that race, Nibali claimed the
overall lead with two days remain-
ing following a long and rain-
soaked mountain Alpine stage. But
then Nibali cracked in the last two
days, and Froome made the most
"I had a difficult Spring with
no victories," Nibali said. As the
defending Tour de France cham-
pion it wasn t a good way to start
The 25-year-old Quintana,
meanwhile, won his first European
race of the season at the Tirreno-
Adriatico in Italy in Mid-March.
Then, after finishing eighth at
the Tour of Romandie in Switzer-
land, ending early May, he returned
home to train for a few weeks in
Colombia. That decision prompted
Nibali, speaking to reporters during
the Dauphine race, to ask "where
Quintana returned to Europe for
the Route du Sud race in France,
which ended June 21, and where
he placed second behind Conta-
Nibali sought to clarify his pre-
vious comment on Quintana s
"The sense of my question was
that we knew where all the other
riders were ... We get followed
closely," said Nibali, who was
speaking Friday through a trans-
lator. "My remark was that we
hadn t seen Quintana since the
Tour of Romandie. I didn t want
to cause controversy; it was just
to ask where he was."
Nibali rides for the Astana team,
which has been answering many
questions of its own, after five sen-
ior and development squad riders
were caught doping with EPO and
steroids since last August.
Cycling s governing body, UCI,
even said there were "compelling
grounds" to request that Astana,
which is backed by the Kazakhstan
government, be stripped of its
license altogether. (AP)
Nibali hopes to stick
closer to Froome
TOUR DE FRANCE
MIAMI---After 12 years with the
Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade needed a
reminder of how much the franchise
Once he found out, any chance of
him leaving vanished.
Wade accepted a $20 million, one-
year deal on Thursday to stay with the
Heat next season, ending his latest foray
into free agency, and wrapping up a
weeks-long saga that had him seriously
wondering about leaving for the first
A pair of conversations, first with
Heat CEO Nick Arison and then anoth-
er with managing general partner Micky
Arison, reminded Wade of what he
meant to the team, and from there it
was a matter of just making numbers
"Sitting down with Nick, sitting
down with Micky, and having conver-
sations with them that I ve never had,
that was big for me," Wade said in a
telephone interview. "I ve never had a
business conversation with one of them.
... They got to show me how much
they really wanted me to be here, how
important it was for them that I con-
tinue to wear one jersey."
Without those conversations, Wade
said, "I don t think we would be at this
Per NBA rules, the Heat could not
comment other than saying that they
intend to enter into a contract with
Wade once the NBA moratorium period
ends. Wade cannot sign his new deal
until next Thursday.
"A one-year deal for $20 million, I
could never look at that and roll my
eyes," Wade said. "I am from Robbins,
Illinois. Look at what I ve been through
in my life."
He could have made $16.1 million
this season on the second year of a
two-year deal, but opted out with hopes
of getting a longer-term, more-lucrative
Wade considered other teams --- the
Los Angeles Lakers, in particular --- but
the lure of staying home was ultimately
too strong for the 33-year-old shooting
The 11-time All-Star averaged 21.5
points this past season, third-best
among Eastern Conference players, and
believes he remains one of the game s
top threats when healthy.
Goran Dragic committed to a five-
year deal on Wednesday. With Wade
back, the Heat free agents have decided
their futures, and Miami will look to
The 37-45 season this past year, one
where Wade missed 20 games and Chris
Bosh missed half the season because
of a blood clot on his lung, is only going
to go down as an aberration, the Heat
"We re going to be better. I know
that," Wade said. "Knock on wood, you
stay healthy, I think we re a good team.
I like our chances." (AP)
to stay with Heat
SILVERTSONE---Nico Rosberg pro-
vided further evidence of the threat
he poses to championship-leading
teammate Lewis Hamilton by posting
the fastest times in both practice ses-
sions at the British Grand Prix yes-
After Hamilton s storming start to
his title defense, Rosberg has won three
of the last four races to trim the Briton s
lead to ten points in the standings.
Not even a loss of hydraulic power
early yesterday at Silverstone could pre-
vent Rosberg topping the time sheets
in a morning session that he was forced
to spend mostly off the track.
"It was a difficult start to the week-
end ... but incredible to see the crew
get my car back on track before the
end of the session," Rosberg said.
"I was then able to attack for a few
laps right at the end which was great."
The 30-year-old German completed
the practice double during the 90 min-
utes on the track in the afternoon when
he felt his car was "not quite perfect."
"It s a very demanding track with
lots of different types of corners and
there s still a lot work to do for us to
find the right set up," he said.
Although Hamilton was only fourth
fastest in the second session --- behind
Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebas-
tian Vettel --- the defending champion s
lap in the morning was still the second
fastest of the day.
During afternoon practice, Hamilton
said over the team radio: "The car is
all over the place. I can t go any faster."
"We ve got some work to do
overnight but the pace is decent,"
Hamilton said later in the paddock. "I
didn t have the ideal balance on the
long runs and I ve got a bit of work to
do on setup.
"But otherwise it s all been good.
The tires feel strong. It doesn t take
too long to warm them up which is a
positive. I ve also gone back on clutch
setup which feels really good so far ---
just like it did in the first few races."
That was when Hamilton opened
the season by winning three out of four
races --- with Vettel topping the podium
in Malaysia to deny him a clean sweep.
"Ferrari look strong again here and
they were right there with us today, so
it should be a good battle," said Hamil-
ton, who is chasing a third victory in
his home race.
In his first season at Ferrari, four-
time world champion Vettel sits third
in the drivers standings --- 39 points
"I m not entirely happy with the car
yet," the German said yesterday as he
celebrated his 28th birthday.
"Some of the things we tried were
good and others were not so good."
Rosberg beats Hamilton
in practice at British GP
Italy's Vincenzo Nibali
waits for the team
presentation in Utrecht,
Netherlands on Thursday
ahead of the start of the
Tour de France cycling
race which starts today.
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