By Julien PretotVAL THORENS, France (Reuters) – Climbing phenomenon Egan Bernal was poised to become the first Colombian to win the Tour de France and the youngest race champion in 110 years when he retained the overall lead after Saturday’s 20th stage, a 59-km ride from Albertville.The Team Ineos rider, 22, finished fourth in the stage won by 2014 champion Vicenzo Nibali, the only man to interrupt the British outfit’s reign on the Tour since 2012.His teammate and defending champion Geraint Thomas is second overall, ahead of Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk after France’s Julian Alaphilippe cracked in the final ascent to the ski resort of Val Thorens.Today’s final stage from Rambouillet to Paris is a largely processional ride with only the final sprint being contested.Bernal, who claimed the yellow jersey when he was the first at top of the Col de l’Iseran in yesterday’s truncated 19th stage, was never bothered in a stage that had been shortened due to landslides on the initial course.“It’s incredible to think that I have won my first Tour,” he said. “I just want to get to the finish line in Paris tomorrow and after I’ll be calmer. Colombia is on the verge of winning its first Tour – I feel this is not only my triumph but the triumph of a whole country. ADVERTISEMENT“My dad couldn’t talk at first but when he managed, he congratulated me. He was about to cry. For us, it’s a dream. We used to watch the Tour on TV and we thought it was something unreachable. As a kid, you think ‘how cool it would be to be there one day’, but it looked so far away. Here we are and I’m very emotional.”Three Colombians will feature in the top 10 as former podium finishers Rigoberto Uran and Nairo Quintana lie seventh and eighth overall, respectively.Alaphilippe cracked with 14km to go in the final 33-km climb ending 2,365 metres above sea level and slipped from second to fifth overall.Bernal is 1:11 ahead of Thomas, who was always bested by the Colombian in the mountains and never looked in a position to threaten him on his favourite terrain.Kruijswijk is 1:31 off the pace. FIRST OF MANYThe Dutchman’s Lotto Jumbo-Visma team set a high pace at the foot of the climb to Val Thorens and Laurens De Plus stepped up a gear to trim the peloton as the breakaway riders’ advantage melted.Sensing the main pack breathing down the neck of the breakaway, Nibali, looking to salvage a poor campaign with a stage win, went solo with 12.5km left.He never looked back and held off world champion Alejandro Valverde, who took second place 10 seconds behind, with his Movistar teammate and fellow Spaniard Mikel Landa finishing third.“It was a difficult Tour for me but I never gave up and finally I win again on this race,” said Nibali, who had no huge expectations after finishing the Giro d’Italia second overall this year.Bernal, who will also win the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider in the race, crossed the line 17 seconds off the pace to Thomas’s accolade.In the absence of four-time champion and teammate Chris Froome, Bernal rose to the challenge after winning the Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse weeklong races.He will become the youngest rider to win the Tour de France since the end of the Second World War and the third youngest in its history.As he crossed the line he was congratulated by his teammate and 2018 champion Thomas. Asked what words he used, Thomas replied: “I said to him, ‘Just enjoy it. Soak it all up. And don’t worry about crying, because all real men cry.’”Team Ineos principal, Dave Brailsford, said: “It’s the most exciting Tour de France that we’ve taken part in. A lot of people may have questioned having two leaders; were we hedging our bets and whether it was going to work. It’s worked to perfection and you can’t get better than second and first.”Frenchman Romain Bardet, who dropped out of overall contention early in the race, is set to snatch the polka dot jersey for the mountain classification and Peter Sagan is expected to win a record seventh green jersey for the points classification.
* Injured Etebo, Junior Ajayi also to miss the match in WroclawDuro IkhazuagbeUnless something happens between now and Friday morning, Nigeria is going to play the international friendly with Poland in Wroclaw without her inspirational skipper, John Mikel Obi. The former Chelsea player who moved Far East to team up with Chinese Super League club, Tianjin Teda last season, is believed to be battling hard to renew his work permit in China.With 22 players already in Eaglesâ€™ Radisson Blu Hotel camp in Wroclaw yesterday, training began in earnest ahead of the Friday friendly with the Polish senior national team.Team Administrator, Dayo Enebi Achor, confirmed yesterday that Mikel is not likely to be available for the Friday game.â€œWe all had been hoping that the renewal (of Mikelâ€™s work permit) would come in good time for him to fly to Poland.â€œAs it is now, it is not likely that he would make the trip here,â€ stressed the Super Eagles administrator.Apart from Mikel, two other invited players, Oghenekaro Etebo and Junior Ajayi are also not in Wroclaw.Etebo who plays for struggling LaLiga club, Las Palmas is injured while Egypt-based Junior Ajayi, is also unavailable because of his inability to secure visa into Poland.Ajayi who earned his first senior call-up to the Super Eagles after a number of impressive displays for Al Ahly in the Egyptian league and the CAF Champions League is now expected to link up with his teammates in London this weekend for the Super Eagles second friendly game against Serbia next week Tuesday at The Hive, Canons Park.Eagles camp for the friendly opened on Monday with six players namely, Williams Troost Ekong, Ola Aina, Tyronne Ebuehi, Alex Iwobi, Leon Balogun and Brian Idowu as the early birds.However, full training began with the arrival of goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, defenders Kenneth Omeruo, Elderson Echiejile, Stephen Eze, Abdullahi Shehu and Chidozie Awaziem, midfielders Joel Obi, John Ogu, Ogenyi Onazi, Uche Agbo and Wilfred Ndidi, and forwards Ahmed Musa, Moses Simon, Odion Ighalo, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses yesterday.Nigeria-based goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa and South Africa-based Daniel Akpeyi are expected to arrive camp today.The team trained twice yesterday, with the same schedule for today, before Thursdayâ€™s training at match time inside the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw.The match kicks off at 8.45pm (Nigeria and Poland are on same time zone) on Friday.Fridayâ€™s showdown inside the 43,000-capacity stadium formally opens the first phase of the Super Eaglesâ€™ preparation for the 21st FIFA World Cup finals, taking place in Russia between June 14 and July 15 this year.After Tuesdayâ€™s game with Serbia in London, the three-time African champions will play a send-forth match against the Democratic Republic of Congo in Nigeria, before flying back to London for a prestige clash with Englandâ€™s Three Lions at Wembley on June 2.Four days later, Eagles come up against the Czech Republic at their final training camp in Austria, with another friendly game on the cards before the squad jets out to the World Cup finals on June 11.Nigeriaâ€™s team base camp at the FIFA World Cup finals is located in Yessentuki, Stavropol territory in the southern region of Russia.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram
Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 19, 2014 at 6:53 pm Contact David: email@example.com | @DBWilson2 It’s been an uncharacteristic two games for the Syracuse offense. C.J. Fair, averaging nearly 17 points per game, has scored just 25. Trevor Cooney, who’s shooting 41.2 percent from beyond the arc, has made just four of his last 13 3s.The pair managed just eight combined points in the second half of Syracuse’s (18-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast) 59-54 win against Pittsburgh (16-2, 4-1) on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. In their place was a 16-point day for Tyler Ennis — he scored 12 earlier in the week against Boston College — and Rakeem Christmas, whose shooting percentage continues to climb up toward 75.“I’m just trying to stay big and take up space down low,” said Christmas, who went 4-for-4 against the No. 22 Panthers, “and then go up strong when I have a good look.”Fair rattled off seven quick points to start the game, but finished with just 13 and went just 2-of-6 from the free-throw line. Cooney added just six points with a single 3-pointer in each half.Late in the game, Syracuse turned to Ennis — averaging 11.9 points per game — for its most crucial buckets.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“They’re playing Trevor and C.J. hard,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “We’re trying to give him an opportunity where he can get to the basket. He just has a knack for doing it that’s as good as just about anybody that I’ve seen.”Cooney and Fair still managed to deliver some critical baskets for the Orange, though. The forward hit a 3-pointer early in the game to helped Syracuse establish an early lead. The guard hit a 3 early in the second half to stretch the Orange’s lead to seven before Pitt rallied to lead for much of the second half.As the two teams battled, Fair sunk a jump shot to give SU a 48-46 lead with 6:27 remaining, but he didn’t score for the rest of the game. Ennis took on that burden.“A lot of teams are going to pay a lot of attention to me and Trevor and then he’s making plays,” Fair said. “He’s making the defense pay for not helping off. If he can continue making plays like that it’s going to open up so much more things.” Comments