Alessandro Petacchi produced a sparkling sprint to grab his second victory of this year’s Tour on Wednesday in the 153.5km fourth stage to Reims, the home of champagne. \nAt the start of the Tour in Rotterdam, sprinter Mark Cavendish was expected to outshine the rest of the field, but it is the Italian who has emerged as the strongest finisher in the race so far. \n“To win two stages on the Tour de France means a lot, especially at this time in my career,” said Petacchi, also victor of the first stage in Brussels. “I had nothing to lose, so I launched the sprint from far. I stayed close to Cavendish, I marked [Robbie] McEwen and that was it.” \n“My experience of more than 200 sprints made the difference,” he said. \nSwitzerland’s Fabian Cancellara retained his overall lead at the end of a quiet ride in the sun after two incident-packed days marred by crashes. \nThe day was also quieter for seven-time champion Lance Armstrong until after the finish when he was booed by a spectator at his team bus and driven away in a car. \n“We couldn’t have a third [chaotic stage] in a row, it’s good for everybody,” the American told reporters. \nWhile Cavendish, set up for the final showdown by teammate Mark Renshaw, was unable to move up a gear when the action started, the other stage honors went to New Zealand’s Julian Dean and Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen. \nPetacchi’s form allowed him to strengthen his position as the most successful active rider on 156 wins, including six Tour stages. \nHis last laurels on the Tour dated back to 2003 when he won four stages. \nWhile there were bubbles for Petacchi, there was more struggle for Cavendish. \n“It’s not so much we who lost it, but the others who improved,” Renshaw said. \nGerman Erik Zabel, Team HTC Columbia’s adviser for sprints, said the absence of Australian Adam Hansen, forced out of the Tour with a broken collarbone, was a major factor. \n“Adam is an engine and the team picked him up for this specialty in doing the lead out in the last six to three kilometers,” he said. “The team did a great job. The only thing we missed today was Cav’s sprint legs from last year.” \nThe Briton, who was the first to hit the canvas in the Brussels stage, has a third chance in the 187.5km fifth stage between Epernay and Montargis, but it could also be third time lucky for Petacchi.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Coming from the business world, New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai (蔡崇信) did not understand why his WNBA franchise did not have a chief executive officer similar to the team’s NBA counterpart the Brooklyn Nets, which Tsai also owns. For Tsai, it was about equality, so he did something about it. The 56-year-old Taipei-born billionaire businessman and philanthropist promoted Keia Clarke to the position last week — making her the first chief executive officer in the team’s history. The WNBA veteran became the third black woman to currently be in charge of a franchise in the league, joining Los Angeles Sparks president
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
MONEY MATTERS: While COVID-19 played a major role in the decision, the CTBA also found it hard to secure sponsorship, and ticket sales would have been affected The Yonex Taipei Open badminton tournament has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a funding shortfall, the CTBA said yesterday. This was the first time that the tournament, a Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Super 300-level competition, has been canceled since it began in 1980. The Taipei Open has been held annually since 1980. The tournament was to be played at the Taipei Arena from Sept. 1 to Sept. 6, with total prize money of US$500,000. The CTBA said that it was deeply concerned about whether the Taipei Open would proceed as scheduled after the BWF announced changes