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Cycling: Roche loses more ground to Wiggins

Nicolas Roche lost more time on the uphill finish to Mende yesterday as Bradley Wiggins finished third on stage five of Paris-Nice to retain the yellow jersey of race leader.

Roche drifted off the pace on the 3km climb to the finish as Richie Porte set a blistering pace at the bottom for his team Sky leader Wiggins.

Porte could do nothing, however, about a late attack by Lieuwe Westra of the Vaconsoleil team, the Dutchman soloing clear in the final kilometre to end the stage with a six-second ahead of Alejandro Valverde and Wiggins. Westra moved into second place overall.

Roche finished 34th on the stage and lies in 22nd place overall.

ATHLETICS

SPAIN'S European cross-country silver medallist Ayad Lamdassem and Jesus Espana will lead the European challenge against Ethiopian superstar Kenenisa Bekele in next month's Spar Great Ireland Run.

Lamdassem pushed Haile Gebrselassie hard in the Great Manchester Run in 2010 and has improved since, while Espana won in the Phoenix Park race last year.

Ireland's Mark Kenneally, Linda Byrne and Ava Hutchinson, who have all achieved the Olympic marathon qualifying standard for London, will be leading the home challenge on April 15.

soccer

THE Irish U-15s were twice pegged back by Belgium as the teams played out a 3-3 draw in Killarney yesterday.

Malike Benrouggibbi fired Ireland into a 26th-minute lead and skipper Dan Casey added a second from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.

After Belgium had drawn level, substitute Sean Byrne restored Ireland's lead from a free-kick in the last minute only for the visitors to equalise in stoppage-time.

Clare Shine and Amber Barrett were on target as the Irish U-17 women's team drew 2-2 with Belgium in Liege.

ST AIDAN'S CC from Cork booked their place in the final of the FAIS Tony O'Neill Senior Cup final by defeating St Mary's, Galway in a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 draw in Tullamore yesterday.

The Leesiders raced into an early lead when skipper Sean O'Callaghan headed home Darren Murphy's cross, but St Mary's hit back through David Mooney, before Evan Kearney (St Mary's) and Sean O'Flaherty then exchanged goals.

With the game level after extra-time, Anthony McAlevy slotted the decisive penalty for the Cork school to set up a March 21 showdown with Malahide CC at Tallaght Stadium.

Irish Independent