| 12.5°C Dublin

O'Sullivan sets points record

SNOOKER: Ronnie O'Sullivan wowed the crowds at Alexandra Palace with a perfect display of snooker and admitted Ricky Walden had been unfortunate to come up against him in such a mood.

The five-time world champion was always the favourite ahead of the Masters quarter-final but few would have predicted the 6-0 whitewash that unfolded in front of a stunned crowd.

O'Sullivan rattled in 556 unanswered points to set a new snooker record, beating the previous best of 495 that was set by Ding Junhui in 2007.

The Rocket looked in shock after the win which was wrapped up in just 58 minutes and 31 seconds, giving television schedulers plenty to ponder as they had been due to broadcast for three and a half further hours.

"Those matches don't come along very often and when they do you want to enjoy them," O'Sullivan, who joked he would now have the time to pick his children up from school, said.

"You wonder how many performances like that you have left in you. I was pleased to do that and hopefully people enjoyed it."


RALLY CAR: Eleven-time champion Stephane Peterhansel won yesterday's 12th and penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally to take the overall lead by only 26 seconds ahead of fellow Mini driver Nani Roma.

Peterhansel finished 3:38 ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah and 5:58 clear of Roma. It was a two-car race between Peterhansel and Roma going into today's last stage to Valapariso, with Al-Attiyah 54:07 behind.

The bikes race seems settled, with Marc Coma leading by almost 2 hours overall ahead of fellow Spaniard Jordi Viladoms. Cyril Despres won Friday's stage, 2:17 ahead of Coma.


CYCLING: Former world champion cyclist Alessandro Ballan was banned for two years yesterday for blood doping and fired by the BMC team.

The Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping court announced the decision after Ballan was indicted on doping charges by a general court in Mantova for alleged team-wide drug use by Ballan's former team, Lampre.

Ballan said in a hearing on Thursday that he used banned drugs to treat an illness. He is banned to January 16, 2016, and the suspension thus could end the 34-year-old rider's career.