Costa retains Suisse title
Portuguese rider Rui Costa won his second successive Tour de Suisse on Sunday after an impressive ride in the ninth and final stage, a 26.8km time trial in Flumserberg, Switzerland. The 26-year-old, who rides for the Movistar team, timed 51 minutes, 57.58 seconds to easily make up the 13 second gap between him and overnight leader Mathias Frank of Switzerland. “This has been as perfect a day as it could be,” Costa said. “It was touching to see how many Portuguese fans turned out to encourage me, and I have to thank my teammates for riding so well throughout the race and setting up this great finale for me.” Frank, who had led the race since the third stage, faded badly to finish fifth overall and was virtually inconsolable after he crossed the line. Dutchman Bauke Mollema finished second overall, more than a minute in arrears, while the Czech Republic’s Roman Kreuziger filled the final spot on the podium.
Roberts doubtful for first Test
British and Irish Lions center Jamie Roberts is a “grave doubt” for Saturday’s first Test against Australia because of a hamstring strain, team doctor James Robson said yesterday. There was better news about the hamstring injury to Welsh winger George North, who has a “great chance” to play, Robson said, while England center Manu Tuilagi was progressing well with his shoulder problem. Although Robson stressed the briefing was a “snapshot,” he thought only Irish winger Tommy Bowe, who has a broken bone in his hand, was likely to join Roberts in being ruled out when he reports on player availability to Warren Gatland tomorrow. “Jamie’s very well this morning, his scans indicate one thing, his demeanor another, [but] he is a grave doubt for this weekend,” Robson told reporters at the North Sydney Oval.
Kinnear back at St James’
Former Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear on Sunday confirmed he is returning to the club as a director. The 66-year-old left Newcastle in 2009 after suffering a heart attack. He was only in charge for six months, leaving in April 2009 just before United were relegated from the Premier League. “It’s an interesting role for myself and I don’t think I could be at a better club to do it,” Kinnear told Sky Sports News. Kinnear insists he is returning to the club to help manager Alan Pardew achieve success, not to undermine the position of a man who signed an eight-year contract extension in September last year. “Alan’s aware of the situation and I’m hoping to meet Alan sometime on Monday to go through the team itself and where it’s glaringly clear we need to improve,” said Kinnear, who has also managed Wimbledon and Nottingham Forest.
Almeria, Girona in playoff
UD Almeria and Girona will play for the third and final promotion place into La Liga after they eliminated UD Las Palmas and AD Alcorcon respectively on Sunday. Almeria won 2-1 at home to Las Palmas after extra-time in their semi-final second leg for a 3-2 aggregate victory, while Girona saw off visiting Alcorcon 3-1 for a 4-2 aggregate success. The first leg of the final is tomorrow, with the return leg on Saturday. Almeria were relegated in the 2010-2011 season and the south coast club finished seventh in the second division last term. Catalonia-based Girona, founded in 1930, have never featured in the top flight. Alicante-based Elche, the second division champions, and Villarreal secured the other promotion berths.