Fuglsang to lead Astana
Danish climber Jakob Fuglsang will be the Astana Pro Team’s main hope for competing for the maillot jaune in this year’s Tour de France which gets underway in Corsica on Saturday. Fuglsang, 28, will be the team leader in the absence of Italian Vincenzo Nibali, who was third in the Tour last year for Lampre-Merida, but has already earned his spurs for his new outfit this season with victory in the Giro d’Italia. Fuglsang will be riding in his third Tour, having finished 50th overall on his previous two appearances, the last one in 2011, the year he recorded his strongest showing in a major Tour with 11th in the Vuelta a Espana. “Fuglsang showed in the Criterium du Dauphine [he was fourth overall behind Tour favorite Chris Froome] that he is highly motivated to do well,” Astana sporting director Dimitry Sedoun said. “The Tour de France presents a lot of opportunities for each rider to win a stage.” Should Fuglsang fail to replicate his Criterium du Dauphine form, then Astana have a fallback option in Slovenian Janez Brajkovic, who was ninth in last year’s Tour.
Hong to coach South Korea
South Korea yesterday named former skipper Hong Myung-bo the new coach of the national side, tasked with preparing the out-of-form team for next year’s World Cup in Brazil. The Korea Football Association said Hong, 44, had been given a two-year contract to replace Choi Kang-hee, who quit as manager last week after South Korea scraped through to qualify for their eighth straight World Cup finals. As a player, Hong represented the national team at four consecutive World Cup finals from 1990 and became a national hero as captain of the side that reached the semi-finals of the 2002 competition in South Korea and Japan. He faces a tough challenge in injecting fresh confidence and motivation into the current team, who only managed to qualify for Brazil on goal-difference. Hong began his coaching career as an assistant on the senior national team from 2005 to 2007. He coached South Korea to bronze at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and led an under-23 team to a bronze medal at the London Olympics last year.
Liverpool seal Aspas deal
Striker Iago Aspas became Liverpool’s third summer signing on Sunday when his long mooted deal was confirmed. A club statement said Aspas passed a medical at the Red’s Melwood training complex, with the Spaniard inking a long-term contract — subject to international clearance. The 25-year-old scored 12 goals and provided seven assists in 34 appearances for former club RC Celta de Vigo last season. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ latest signing joins Spanish under-21 player Luis Alberto and former Manchester City defender Kolo Toure at Anfield.
Pietersen hits a century
Kevin Pietersen boosted England’s hopes ahead of the Ashes against Australia with a century for Surrey in his first innings of the season on Sunday. The controversial batsman has been out of action since leaving England’s tour of New Zealand with a knee injury in March, missing the return series and the Champions Trophy. He brought up three figures for Surrey against Yorkshire at Headingley in the County Championship off 106 balls, eventually finishing on 177 not out in a total of 353-7 declared. The Ashes begin at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, on July 10.