Friday 23 February 2018

Sport in brief: Battaglin pips Cataldo in Giro

Italian cyclist Enrico Battaglin sprays champagne as he celebrates his victory in stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia. Photo: LUK BENIES/AFP/Getty Images
Italian cyclist Enrico Battaglin sprays champagne as he celebrates his victory in stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia. Photo: LUK BENIES/AFP/Getty Images

CYCLING: Enrico Battaglin won the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia yesterday while overall leader Rigoberto Uran had a tough day in the mountains.

Battaglin pipped fellow Italian Dario Cataldo at the end of a 164km hilly trek from Aglie after being initially dropped by his breakaway companions.

"I am not used to winning that kind of stage. At the beginning I did not think our breakaway could go all the way," Battaglin said.

Four kilometres from the finish, in the final category-one ascent, Italian climber Domenico Pozzovivo attacked and among the top contenders, only Colombian Nairo Quintana could follow.

Pozzovivo, however, struggled to maintain the pace and gained less than 30 seconds on Uran, second-placed Cadel Evans and third-placed Rafal Majka. Uran, who cracked in the final metres, leads Evans by 32 seconds and Majka by 1:35, while Pozzovivo sits 2:11 behind.

Ireland's Nicolas Roche finished fifth and sits 34th in the general classification 33 minutes and 18 seconds behind.

Compatriot Philip Deignan, of Team Sky, is 1.11.08 behind Colombian Uran in 66th position.

Today's 15th stage takes the peloton over 225 km from Valdengo and Plan Di Montecampione.

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Britain's Liam Holohan raced to victory in Baltinglass yesterday to take stage seven of the An Post Rás.

A breakaway group of seven riders, including Holohan, led for the majority of the 147km stage from Carrick-on-Suir, with Holohan attacking the break just inside the 20km mark and held on to claim a magnificent victory.

Hamish Schreurs (New Zealand National Team) won a close sprint with Robert Partridge (Velosure Giordana) to take second place.

Austrian Clemens Fankhauser (Tirol Cycling) remains the yellow jersey leader going into the final stage today.

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GAELIC GAMES: Gemma Begley played a captain's part as Ulster claimed a third successive MMI Interprovincial ladies football crown on Saturday.

Tyrone star Begley scored 2-3, including 2-1 from play, as Paula Cunningham's Ulster repeated last year's final victory over Connacht on a 2-8 to 2-7 scoreline.

Not even a personal haul of 1-7 from Mayo ace Cora Staunton was good enough to prevent defeat for Connacht.

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FORMULA 1: Nico Rosberg took pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix in controversial circumstances yesterday, ahead of his unhappy Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

The Mercedes pair went out for one final qualifying lap with less than a minute remaining and Rosberg lost control coming out of the Mirabeau turn, sliding down an escape road.

After Rosberg backed out onto the circuit, a yellow flag came up which meant that Hamilton could not improve on his time.

Rosberg's leading time was 1:15.989 seconds, with Hamilton clocking 1:16.048 and Ricciardo third at 1:16.384.

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TENNIS: Sam Barry yesterday kept firmly on course to chalk up his second doubles title success in the space of a fortnight.

Partnering Italy's Claudio Grassi, the 22-year-old Limerick native scored a 7-5 6-0 win over French duo Remi Boutillier and Maxime Tchoutakian in the semi-finals of the ITF Futures event in Tunisia.

Yesterday's contest in the outdoor hardcourt tournament in Sousse was delicately balanced, when the partnerships were tied at 5-5 in the opening set. But then top seeds Barry and Grassi considerably upped their game, reeling off the next eight games on the trot to leave no doubt about their superiority.

In today's decider the Munster man and Grassi will face unseeded Tunisian duo Moez Echargui and Slim Hamza.

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Andy Murray is hoping to carry his encouraging form in Rome into the French Open as he searches for consistency in his game.

The Scot has been up and down since returning from back surgery at the start of the season and is looking for his first title since winning Wimbledon last summer.

"I was fairly happy with the start of the season with how I responded from the surgery in Australia.

"I thought I did pretty well there. I thought I played a fairly high level in the quarter-finals against Roger (Federer)," he said.

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RACING: My Titania has been declared a non-runner in the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh today.

With heavy rainfall yesterday making conditions testing, trainer John Oxx has decided not to take any chances with the well-regarded filly.

The daughter of Sea The Stars has had no luck this season after an unsatisfactory scope also saw her miss the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

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RUGBY: Wasps have taken the 20th and final place among Europe's elite next season after seeing off Stade Francais with an impressive 20-6 second-leg win in Paris.

The English side edged last week's first leg 30-29 at home but got their second leg game off to a flying start when Tom Varndell scored a try in the corner after six minutes.

Guy Thompson scored a second try for the London side and Andy Goode was accurate with the boot in hitting two penalties and two conversions.

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