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Rolland given final whistle

Irish referee Alain Rolland will take charge of the all-French Heineken Cup final between ASM Clermont Auvergne and Toulon at the Aviva Stadium on May 18.

Rolland will be refereeing the final for the second time, having taken charge of the 2004 decider between London Wasps and Toulouse. It will be his 72nd tournament match, which will eclipse the old mark of his compatriot Alan Lewis.

His assistant referees will be Wayne Barnes and George Clancy.

Nigel Owens will referee the Amlin Challenge Cup final on May 17 between Leinster and Stade Francais at the RDS.

Both officials will be fitted with the Ref Cam device, which will enable television viewers to avail of innovative close-quarter footage from the referee's perspective.

Battaglin leaves Wiggins in wake


Enrico Battaglin led an Italian 1-2-3 to win the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia as Britain's Bradley Wiggins lost time in a testing finale.

The Tour de France champion lost 17 seconds as the peloton split in the final kilometres that included a quick descent followed by a flat section, which riders tackled in heavy rain with a cobbled section in the home straight.

Wiggins dropped from second to sixth overall, 34 seconds adrift of Italian Luca Paolini, who retained the pink jersey after finishing safe in the bunch.

The Briton was one of several riders held up behind a crash involving Juan Manuel Garate, Cristiano Salerno and Laurent Pichon, which happened with less than two kilometres left in the stage.

International Cycling Union (UCI) regulations state that a rider who is held up in this way in the final three kilometres – with the exception of uphill finishes – is credited with the same time as the main bunch.

Other pre-race favourites Cadel Evans of Australia, Italian Vincenzo Nibali and defending champion Ryder Hesjedal of Canada came home safe after a 246km undulating trek from Policastro Bussentino.

Paolini leads Colombian Rigoberto Uran of Team Sky by 17 seconds with Spain's Benat Inxausti in third 26 seconds off the pace for Movistar.

Murray gets to grips with clay


Andy Murray shrugged off his slow start to the clay-court season by reaching the last 16 of the Madrid Open with a battling win over Germany's Florian Mayer.

Rebounding from his disappointing loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in Monte Carlo last month, Murray edged Mayer over two tie-break sets to set up a third-round clash with Gilles Simon.

The Scot was pushed to the limit by the world No 26, being forced to save five set points in a marathon first-set tie-break which he eventually won 13-11.

Roger Federer looked as sharp as ever in his first outing after a two-month lay-off as he eased past Radek Stepanek 6-3 6-3.

Moving gracefully around the court, the defending champion secured a 12th victory over Stepanek in 14 meetings to set up a possible third-round clash against friend and Swiss compatriot Wawrinka.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Fed Cup team will have to wait until tomorrow before they open their Europe-Africa Zone Group Three campaign against Kenya in Molodova.

Irish Independent