Loeb extends lead
Nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb of France won two of Friday’s three stages to extend his overall lead on the third day of the Monte Carlo Rally. Loeb, competing in one of only four races he will contest this season after going into semi-retirement, has won six of the past seven Monte Carlo Rallies and looks set for another win. The Citroen driver leads countryman Sebastien Ogier by 1 minute, 47.4 seconds. Loeb won stages one and three to add 13 seconds to his overnight lead over Ogier, who also drives a Citroen. Norway’s Mads Ostberg won the other stage of the day. The 38-year-old Loeb will not secure a 10th straight world title as he will race only in Sweden, Argentina and France this year after Monte Carlo.
Lyon held to a draw
Olympique Lyonnais made hard work of keeping their challenge for a first French league title in five years alive when they were held to a goalless draw at home by Evian Thonon Gaillard on Friday. The visitors, facing a relegation battle as they sit third from bottom, defended doggedly for long periods and denied Lyon the chance to open up a five-point gap over title rivals Paris Saint-Germain. In near freezing conditions, but with the pitch showing no trace of the day’s snow, Lyon just about took the first half honors, with Brazilian Michel Bastos causing Evian all manner of problems down their right flank, but failing to find the opening. Just after the hour mark Lyon wasted their best chance to take the lead as Bastos again threaded a neat ball through the center for Steed Malbranque to run on to and he unselfishly switched it to Alexandre Lacazette, clear on the right of the area, but he sent a tame effort beyond the far post.
Pinturault wins third race
France’s Alexis Pinturault made the most of his all-round talent to clinch his third World Cup race in a men’s super-combined in Wengen on Friday. The 21-year-old, one of the most exciting prospects to emerge in the sport in recent years, outclassed his rivals in the afternoon slalom to win in a combined time of 2 minutes, 41.62 seconds. While he limited the damage by finishing 22nd in the morning’s downhill, 2.07 behind Italy’s Christof Innerhofer, Pinturault left his nearest rival, Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, 1.15 adrift after the slalom leg. Local favorite Carlo Janka, in the doldrums for nearly two years, finished third, 1.49 behind the Frenchman.
Phoenix, coach part ways
The Phoenix Suns have ended head coach Alvin Gentry’s tenure of almost four years in charge of the Western Conference strugglers after both sides “mutually agreed to part ways,” the team said on Friday. The Suns have made a poor start to the campaign and sit bottom of the Pacific division with a 13-28 record, which is also the poorest in the conference. “All of us, including Alvin, realized that the pieces weren’t fitting,” Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby said in a statement. “To be sure, integrating nine new players was a challenge.” In his time as head coach of the Suns, Gentry compiled a 158-144 (.523) record, earning one playoff appearance and a trip to the 2010 Western Conference Finals. “After nine years with the Suns, the organization and I came to a mutual agreement to go in different directions,” Gentry said.