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Volume 6 No. 217

Events and Attractions

British cyclist Mark Cavendish's anger at Saturday's Tour de France chaos had not subsided Sunday morning "as the riders prepared for what they hoped would be a more straightforward second stage," according to Ian Parker of the PA. Cavendish "was left fuming when his hopes of wearing the famous yellow jersey for the first time in his career were ended amid carnage in Bastia, where a team bus became lodged under the finish line gantry, in turn causing organisers to initially move the finish line by three kilometres before restoring the original route." With those decisions "made as the peloton was baring down on the town," the confusion was blamed for a major crash 6km from the line which ended the chances of not only Cavendish but also rivals Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel, with Marcel Kittel taking the stage win instead (PA, 6/30). In London, Mike Walters reported the Orica-GreenEDGE team support bus got stuck under the finish line on Bastia's "pictureSque waterfront." With the leaders "only 10km from the end of their 213km journey from Porto Vecchio, officials were plunged into panic, frantically relaying ­messages via team radios to the ­peloton that the finish might be brought forward by 3km." When the stranded coach was freed from its wedge under the finish-banner arch with only minutes to spare, "race­ ­marshals reinstated the original ­winning post as the designated finish." Cavendish then ground to a halt behind the spectacular pile-up -- which brought down around 25 riders (DAILY MIRROR, 6/30). REUTERS' Julien Pretot reported line manager Jean-Louis Pages said, "When a bus arrives near the finish line the driver must ask the permission to cross it. Since this bus was late (and others had been through the finish already) we had already lowered the banner." Pages said that "the driver had not asked for authorisation to go through." Pages: "Everybody helped out. We deflated the tIres of the bus so we could move it away as the peloton was fast approaching" (REUTERS, 6/29).

DRIVER DEFENDS ACTIONS: In Sydney, Rupert Guinness reported Gary Atxa, the Orica-GreenEDGE driver the behind the wheel of the team bus that got stuck in the finishing arch of the 213km first stage of the Tour de France, "defended his actions in the incident before the race resumed for stage two on Sunday." Atxa: "I was a bit late and when I arrived at the finish I followed the instructions that were given to me. When I arrived at the finish line I saw that it was a bit low, but they said, 'Advance, advance!' I saw that the others had passed before me, so I did exactly the same thing; but it was bad luck that it [the finishing arch] was a little low and what happened happened" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/1).

'PANIC TOOK OVER': In London, Jeremy Whittle reported the "policing of the 4,500 vehicles on the route du Tour as it approached Bastia was confused and chaotic, with many vehicles being sent the wrong way by a panicking and overwhelmed local gendarmerie." The prospect of 198 riders speeding toward the finish line, at 50 miles an hour, "hellbent on winning the first yellow jersey, with a huge bus in their path, was unthinkable." And as the race organization fought to dislodge the Orica-GreenEDGE bus from the finish line gantry, "panic took over." A decision was made that the finish line "would be moved, to a point three kilometres earlier." The riders were told through race radio, but some of them couldn’t hear what was being said. Kittel said, "I didn’t know the bus was stuck. About six or seven kilometres from the line, our director was shouting in the radio, but the sound of the TV helicopters and the fans was so loud, I couldn’t hear what he was saying" (LONDON TIMES, 6/29).

Following its annual conference in London, the Int'l Cricket Council announced on Saturday that England and Wales will stage the inaugural World Test Championship in June and July '17, according to the AFP. The WTC will replace the Champions Trophy. India will stage the second edition of the Test Championship in February and March '21 (AFP, 6/30). The PTI reported the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will also host the 2019 World Cup and Cricket Australia "got the right to host the 2020 World Twenty20." The ICC Board supported the strategy of ensuring an optimum balance between the three formats of the game -- especially Test cricket -- and approved the recommendation that the full member-countries should play a minimum of 16 Tests in each four-year cycle. To ensure that all One-Day Int'ls played over the four-year cycle between ICC Cricket World Cups count toward a team's ranking, "the ICC Board agreed to change the ODI rankings period from three years to four years" (PTI, 6/30).  The HINDUSTAN TIMES reported the ICC has also confirmed support for 'zing wickets' -- which have flashing LEDs in bails and stumps -- for ODIs and T20Is. Other recommendations included reiterating that umpires will take a call on the ball tampering issue. It "gained prominence during the recent Champions Trophy when umpire Aleem Dar changed the ball during an England-Sri Lanka game" (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 6/30).

Berlin's Olympic Stadium "is expected to host the 2018 European Athletics Championships after competing candidate Budapest dropped out," according to the BERLINER MORGENPOST. German Athletics Association (DLV) President Clemens Prokop said, "I'm expecting we will be awarded the event." The official decision "will be announced in Zurich, Switzerland in early November." The last athletics event that the Berlin Olympic Stadium hosted was the 2009 IAAF World Championships (BERLINER MORGENPOST, 6/28).

Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond "will not attend this year's Open championship in protest at the host club Muirfield's men-only membership policy," according to Ewan Murray of the London GUARDIAN. The return of the Open to Muirfield in mid-July "will put the issue of the club's attitude towards women back in the spotlight." Salmond said, "I think it's just indefensible in the 21st century not to have a golf club that's open to all." When "last pressed on the routine selection of clubs such as Muirfield as Open venues," Royal & Ancient CEO Peter Dawson said, "To think that the R&A might say to a club like Muirfield 'you are not going to have Open any more unless you change your policy' is frankly a bullying position that we would never take" (GUARDIAN, 6/28).

Organizers of Yorkshire, U.K.'s two Tour de France stages next year "hope to use the event as a catalyst for cycling improvements" in the U.K., according to Sean Ingle of the London GUARDIAN. It will be the first time the Tour has returned to Britain since '07. Some believe "the Tour's visit push-started Britain's cycling boom." It also spooned £88M ($134M) into London's economy. The organizers, who "are busy pressing palms in Corsica this weekend, have grander ambitions still." They plan to use the Tour's sojourn "as a catalyst to provide a free bike-lending service to every child in the county -- as well as making the region the European capital of cycling." Welcome to Yorkshire CEO Gary Verity reports that preparations for next year's two stages in the county "are so advanced they could have been held this weekend." Verity: "The feedback from Tour officials is that we are in a good place." There is also "hope of a stimulus for the country, not just in 2014 when the hotels and B&Bs will be packed and the routes will be thronged, but in the years ahead" (GUARDIAN, 6/29).